Thursday, May 9, 2013

Government's Online Sales Tax Bill Might Put Me "Out of Business"

I express my title with tongue-in-cheek, because a recent visit with an accountant about my "business" pretty much had him choking on his bottled water.

He was very kind and didn't deride me out loud, but I could see it made no sense to him that I wasn't interested in making a profit with this blog or book sales.

I hope you've noticed that all along. I'm not after your money. The Lord has blessed me with a husband who fully supports this venture by listening and encouraging me, by joyfully praising the Lord when I tell him about God's work in widows, and by freely providing the capital to publish Postcards from the Widows' Path and get it from the print shop into your hands.

Sure, he'd also be happy to see Postcards ... on the New York Times bestseller list and become a kept man! But the reality is that we're just trying to get the book to pay for itself. I don't draw a salary or even an hourly wage for my full-time hours of devotion to you. Talk about operating on a shoestring!

So, on Tuesday when the Senate passed the online sales tax bill, my blood chilled. If this bill passes the House, it could affect my online bookstore, drain my time and create a lot of hassle for me. Right now I  remit sales tax each month to the state of South Carolina for the number of books I sell within  her borders. I had to pay South Carolina $50 for a vendors license and become a sole proprietor, fill out a Schedule C tax form, and if I ever do turn a profit on this I'll have to pay my own self-employment tax too. Please don't read a complaining tone into my words. I'm just informing you of what goes on behind the scenes here.

Can you imagine if I have to remit sales tax to every state from which I receive a book order? Would I have to pay $25 (like in Ohio) or $50 (like in SC) for a vendors license in each state? Would it eat up an extra hour or so each month for each state to pay the bit of sales tax I'd collect? With 50 states to consider, I don't think I want to think about it!
Right now I don't know the answers to these questions, but passage of the bill in the House will require me to work them out. The outcome might be a whole new field of opportunity that forces me to really expand and grow and---oh, bother---make some money. Or I could try to go with a non-profit status and create a board of directors and meetings to attend. Or---most appealing--- maybe a larger ministry would like to add on a widows ministry and I could come under their authority and resources. Or maybe I'd venture out for speaking engagements and only sell books that way. Or maybe I'd "retire," I hope not. With so many unknowns, I'm so glad to know The God Who Knows!

And I'm so glad I can share my concerns with you. Would you please pray about this? Obviously, pray that it doesn't pass. Contact your state representative and let them know what you think. And if it does pass, pray for how this bill will affect not just me, but also all small online businesses. Many small online businesses (think of ebay and etsy people) originated because of folks who lost their jobs, and stay-at-home moms and widows who had the gumption to try to support themselves. It doesn't seem fair that they get bled with out-of-state sales tax and the extra hours of non-income producing work it will create. I can see the merits (and greed) of large online businesses paying sales tax, but maybe there can be some grace for us little ones and for you---the tax-payer!


  1. Hi Ferree,

    I am completely with you on NO Internet Sales Tax. Hopefully the house will shelf this monster tax.

    If the worst happens and the tax goes in place one other possibility for you to consider would be selling your books through Amazon or another online book sale site. You would still be charging tax but they would do all the calculating and collecting etc. Atleast, I would like that is how it goes but then that makes too much since!! I have an account for used books that has worked for me. I probably sell a couple of items a month. They collect a small fee and credit me back for most of the shipping cost. So it works well for me.

    Enjoying your book a lot by the way. <3 Denise

  2. Oh! Good to know, Denise! I'm all about letting them do the work. Just have to get my costs down on the production side. I really appreciate hearing from you, especially since you've got experience with it. Thanks!

  3. I have a small Etsy shop that I temporarily closed when DH passed away. I haven't opened up again because of the sales tax issue. I think I had 5 small sales last year, I don't have a license yet, because I wasn't sure how this was going to go, and I'm still not sure. What I would like, is for someone to buy my pieces wholesale and they deal with all of the taxes etc. Something I need to lay before Jesus. I love to create, but the selling of the items is not enticing to me at all.

    I enjoyed your book and thank you for putting it on sale this last time.

    Love and hugs to you as you do your part to encourage widows.


  4. Dear Lorraine, I love to visit your blog because your creativity shines bright. I'm with you, tho, I wish we could just create and someone else could do the sales and accounting. With all the changes for you this year it's good to let things sort out before you decide how you want to invest your time and talents.

  5. Dear Ferree,

    Thank you for opening up to us about all of this and for sharing your concerns.

    I will Pray of course that this bill will not be passed. This goes for you and others who would be affected by this.

    Whether or not this bill is passed; I know that God will be there to guide you where you need to be. He has already shown himself through all that you do to help others. Your devotion to everyone here is such an amazing gift.

    ~Cathy ♥

  6. Dear Ferree, Don't stress too much: the new law only applies to those whose sales exceed a million dollars! I don't think you're there quite yet.. lol


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