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
    Armchair Lawyer, 6 Feb 2008 @ 11:40pm

    Re: Yes another example of the Gov't double, tripl

    "Now, if I want to sell it, I'm being told that I should for out for taxes AGAIN? I thought this country stood for FREE TRADE."

    No, you are not being told that. The buyer is the one who is responsible for paying the sales tax. When you buy from a brick and mortar store they COLLECT the sales tax from you and pass it along to the state, they don't pay it themselves. When you buy something online "tax free" (such as from Amazon, Newegg, etc.) you are legally required to report your purchase and submit the appropriate sales tax to your state (of course none of us do that but it is the law).

    Also, the term "free trade" does not mean that trade is free of charges, it refers to the freedom to engage in trade.

    Also your argument about double dipping is flawed, have you ever bought a used car? When you purchase something that is new to you (even if it's used) sales tax is still owed to the state (it is a tax on the sale of goods, hence the name). Maybe this doesn't seem fair but if you use cars as a simplified example to deconstruct it, the manufacturer paid sales tax on the materials used to make the car so does that mean you shouldn't have to pay sales tax?

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