Pennsylvania Sues Woman For Selling Goods On eBay Without A License

from the if-we-don't-understand-it,-it's-probably-illegal dept

A few years back we wrote about states that were passing inexplicable laws requiring anyone selling goods on eBay for others to get an auctioneer's license, something that can be quite costly and sometimes requires a long-term apprenticeship. It appears just such a law is being used in Pennsylvania to go after a very successful eBay seller (via the Agitator). The story in that case is even more ridiculous, since the woman in question only began selling goods on eBay in order to be able to stay at home with her young daughter who was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Even though the woman stopped (and got a job outside the home) as soon as the state notified her that she was illegally selling goods, the state is still moving forward prosecuting her. While the state told the reporter that the maximum fine the woman faced is only $2,000, her lawyer read the charges in a way that suggested she could be on the hook for up to $10 million. The whole thing seems pretty pointless. Selling on eBay is quite different from running an auction house. If anything, laws like these seem designed to limit competition in an effort to protect an incumbent industry. As another eBay seller facing similar charges notes in the article: "It's like the buggy-whip manufacturer's deciding whether these newfangled automobile manufacturers can do it without a buggy-whip license."

Filed Under: auction license, pennsylvania
Companies: ebay

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  1. identicon
    WhoBeThere, 1 Feb 2008 @ 7:23pm

    Re: Re: hrmm... nope


    I don't agree with AC's "You are an idiot", but you certainly seem to make a compelling argument that you are grossly ill informed and perhaps even lack some critical reasoning skills. I simple Google for “eBay Fraud Statistics” will help you see the err of your logic (one would hope).

    The vast majority of eBay sales are legitimate. According to fewer than 1 in 10,000 sales are “frauds” (~13,000 in 2005 out of many millions). eBay, it turns out, has a much lower fraud rate than newspaper ads had. Please note, I'm not much of an eBayer, I generally prefer other means to purchase and/or sell on-line, but requiring auction licenses is truly indefensible.

    As for taxes, you already have to pay taxes, whether you sell one item for profit, or 500,000 on eBay or in a yard sale. There is no IRS exemption on income from sale of goods or services. It just so happens that the IRS will probably not come after you for selling lemonade at your lemonade stand, but by law, that is taxable income (if your total income exceeds the blah blah blah).

    As for stating that they should have to pay Business Taxes, I say: what planet do you live on? I have owned or been a partner (or still own/am) in 3 LLCs, 1 LLP, 1 PLLC and 2 S-Corps. The 2 S-corporations paid business (read "corporate") taxes, but they were pre 1996. All 5 of my other companies paid zip, nada, nil in taxes. Individuals paid on the distributed income, but there were no business taxes. What have you been smoking for 10+ years? If your business has

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