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E-Commerce creates new challenges to the tax systems. One of the challenges derive from the fact that a business can engage in e-commerce without having a physical presence. This is way beyond what was imagined during the formative states of present tax laws. However, some major issues which raises tax issues are unresolved. These issues may create problems for the authorities and they also could generate opportunities for legitimate tax planning so that businesses can reduce their tax payments in some, most or all the countries in which they operate. Businesses could also face risks in the tax treatment of their methods and structures.

Some of the key reasons that E-Commerce raises tax issues are as follows:

1. Location. Existing tax systems tend to determine tax consequences based on where the taxpayer is physically located. Hence, existing laws relating to Direct and Indirect taxes have developed definitions of what constitutes the location of suppliers and consumers of goods and services. There are small differences between the definitions for the two types of taxes. Generally the location is determined by reference to whether there exists a "permanent" or "fixed" place of business or, where there is no business, the usual residence. The presence of a network server might constitute a place of business, but probably only where it is part of a range of human and technical resources used to deliver a complete business transaction i.e. it is used to advertise, take orders, process payments and make deliveries.

2. Types of Products. E-commerce allows for some types of products, such as newspapers and music CDs, to be delivered in digitized form, rather than in tangible form. The digitized products raise issues at the state level as to whether sales tax applies and in which state income is generated for state income tax purposes. It also raise federal issues regarding the type of revenue generated and how it is to be reported. See Overview to Federal Domestic Tax Considerations for an Internet Company, by Professor Annette Nellen, San Jose State University.

3. Latest Marketing Techniques. The Internet has introduced new ways of selling and buying goods and services. For instance, anyone no matter where they located can offer their unwanted items to a worldwide group of potential buyers via auction sites, such as E-Bay. Also, the Internet can be used to link business buyers and sellers through exchange web sites where sellers post what they have to sell and buyers post what they need to buy. Almost, all of these sites can operate without human intervention . Additionally, the Internet has increased the use of bartering, with respect to exchange of web banners that serve as advertisements. These new marketing techniques raise various tax issues at all levels. At the federal domestic level, issues include whether an exchange intermediary or broker should be accounting for inventory, and what amount of information reporting should be required for low-value bartering transactions? See Overview to Federal Domestic Tax Considerations for an Internet Company, by Professor Annette Nellen, San José State University.

4. Types of Transactions. Because, the Internet allows paperless transactions and use of electronic cash, thus it raises administrative concerns for the Internal Revenue Service as to whether transactions were properly reported, whether an audit trail exists, and whether new reporting rules are needed. The U.S. Treasury is aware of the looming tax compliance problems. In its 1996 report, the U.S. Treasury expressed its fears of this as follows:

"The major compliance issue posed by electronic commerce is the extent to which electronic money is analogous to cash and thus creates the potential for anonymous and untraceable transactions."

These anonymous transactions, and the use of anonymous money, create a huge problem for tax compliance. The U.S. Treasury rightly sees this as one of the most important issues in the taxation of e-commerce. Another significant category of issues involves identifying parties to communications and transactions utilizing thesenew technologies and verifying records when transactions are conducted electronically. In a speech entitled, "Tax Administration in a Global Era," Treasury Secretary Summers stated:

"The Internet provides new ways for tax administrations, such as the IRS, to improve the ease and transparency of tax collection. But new technology also raises certain problems. In a world where cyber-transactions are growing at a rapid pace, tax administrations face the challenge of adapting existing tax systems to an economy that increasingly ignores physical borders. In such a world, it will be easier for companies to avoid tax collectors by operating worldwide through web-sites based in jurisdictions that are unwilling to share taxpayer information."


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