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
    blahblah, 14 Sep 2009 @ 7:25pm

    why get a license is not collecting tax?

    Why should the lady have a reseller license if she is not collecting local sales tax?? A reseller license is good for two things: for buying wholesale so you don't have to pay tax when buying materials to sell and to use when submitting local sales tax payments.

    If she was selling on consignment, she had no upfront expense since the items were still the property of the owners and not her (that's what consignment is). and since she was selling online, the chances are slim that she had many (if any) sales in PA, not to mention that she could have just denied any PA sales altogether.

    This is illogical - almost as bad as many of the rediculous comments on this post.

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