By Mike Luery
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) â€“ With California deep in debt, a controversial plan has emerged that calls for private vendors to monitor what you buy on the Internet.
TheÂ Board of Equalization (BOE) says it could raise a billion dollars a year in previously uncollected use taxes, but critics call it haunting to hire â€œInternet Policeâ€.
One of those critics is Monique Bell, who startedÂ My Kid Sister Clothing Company, three years ago in Stockton.
â€œIf you wear it, we sell it,â€ Bell told CBS 13 inside her Stockton home.
Bell is the owner of My Kid Sister Clothing Company, an Internet portal that allows her customers to find clothes for kids â€“ and the whole family at a discount. Sheâ€™s concerned by the BOE plan â€“ a staff proposal to identify Internet buyers who use her site and others, to purchase things from out-of-state vendors.
â€œI think itâ€™s like Big Brother. Itâ€™s definitely very chilling,â€ said Bell. The Internet entrepreneur told CBS 13, â€œI think our customers are just going to stop buying from us. Weâ€™re going to see a dramatic drop in sales.â€
Under state law, if you buy something online from an out-of-state company with no physical presence here â€“ since you are not paying sales tax, you are supposed to pay a use tax to the State of California, but many people never do.
That could change however, under the BOE proposal, which would authorize California to spend up to $10 million to hire private vendors to track down what you purchase over the Internet.
Runner is fighting the Boardâ€™s staff proposal. CBS 13 asked him to explain how it was pitched to the Board:
â€œOne of the ideas is well, we think there might be some people who will sell us data,â€ Runner warned about the proposal. â€œThat will tell us what kind of credit card transactions or private transactions that a Californian may have made in purchasing something out of state,â€ he told CBS 13.
Under the plan, California could generate up to $1.1 billion in uncollected taxes by monitoring what you buy online. Anyone purchasing more than $5,000 a year would be fair game. But active Internet users like Dan and Amber Campbell of Sacramento worry about government watching over their shoulders.
â€œI just really think itâ€™s an invasion of privacy and it should be back in the hands of the retailer, not the consumer,â€ Amber Campbell told CBS 13. HerÂ husbandDan Campbell has similar concerns.
To read more, visit:Â http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2011/05/03/on-the-money-internet-police/
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