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
    I wish people knew what they were talking about be, 10 Jan 2009 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Do I need a yardsale license

    In Ohio, you do need a license to hold a garage sale. It's only $.50, but you do need one. They tend to "look the other way" for people who don't, but if you are selling your junk every weekend, they can close you down.

    Same goes for any business. No, Ebay isn't a real "auction" but people who sell on Ebay are sellers. That means they own a business and should pay taxes on it and (depending on the state) should have a vendor's license to do so. Just like the garage/yard sales, if you only sell one or two things the government won't say much, but if you are selling daily then you should be paying taxes and have a license.

    I buy and sell occassionally on Ebay, so I know how they work. Ebay cannot legally send out forms to the IRS (or anyone else for that matter) from sellers, because they don't know how much money is exchanged. There is no way for them to prove that money was received or sent. That is the way they stay out of any legalities regarding licenses.

    I do have a problem with Paypal, though. Ebay is now demanding that buyers and sellers only go through Paypal and the fees are outrageous. There is no way that sellers can even make money without charging huge fees to the buyers because of all of the fees. Ebay also likes to raise their fees every now and then, so I'm sure eventually we will no longer have to worry about Ebay because noone will be able to make any money because they will be paying too much money in fees.

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it! :)

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