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In a World Without Borders: The Impact of Taxes on Internet Commerce

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  • Austan Goolsbee

Abstract

The rapid rise in sales over the Internet and the fact that most Internet buyers pay no sales tax has ignited a considerable debate over taxes and the Internet. This paper uses new data on the purchase decisions of approximately 25,000 online users to examine the effect of local sales taxes on Internet commerce. The results suggest that, controlling for observable characteristics, people living in high sales taxes locations are significantly more likely to buy online. The results are quite robust and cannot be explained by unobserved technological sophistication, shopping costs, or other alternative explanations. The magnitudes in the paper suggest that applying existing sales taxes to Internet commerce might reduce the number of online buyers by up to 24 percent.

Suggested Citation

  • Austan Goolsbee, 2000. "In a World Without Borders: The Impact of Taxes on Internet Commerce," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 561-576.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:2:p:561-576.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1162/003355300554854
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