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."

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  1. identicon
    Rose M. Welch, 1 Feb 2008 @ 10:00pm

    I work for the so-called 'little guy' and it's not eBay. It's a very small family-owned and operated business that's been in business for sixty years. We collect sales tax for the our state, and we pay local, state, and federal taxes so that we can operate a business, and make profit to pay our bills, like our owner's daughter's cancer treatment.

    Our money pays for our roads, libraries, police force, and so on up the line. I have no problem with people getting rid of things they don't need, selling a regular inventory over a long period of time is not like having a yearly Internet garage sale. Even if it was, in Oklahoma, you have to pay five dollars for a garage sale permit. In most states, once you start selling over a certain monetary amount, you are in business and you must pay taxes, just like everyone else.

    I'm not saying that the case mentioned in the article is great, but the roads and services that we all use will be out of business if the little tax-evading guy has his way.

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