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Friday, July 8, 2011: Sales tax, food bank and respect


Internet tax burden

I couldn’t disagree more with the OpEd by Dan Crippen (“Internet sellers’ free tax ride,” BDN, July 5) in which he advocates taxing sales made through the Internet.

Historically, sales made through the mail have been exempt from sales taxes unless you had a physical presence in the state the goods were being shipped to. With the development of the Internet this was extended to Internet sales. The point is that Internet sales are still mail sales, you just order online instead of through a catalog.

I am a small, part-time stamp dealer who sells over the Internet (mostly through eBay). There are several thousand different taxing authorities (states, counties, cities, towns, etc.) all of which tax different items with different tax rates, filing procedures and reporting times.

While Mr. Crippen is correct that a computer could easily be programmed with the rates, he completely ignores the cost in both time and dollars to small businesses such as mine in having to apply for licenses and keep track of sales and file tax reports in all those jurisdictions. The postage cost alone for just the 56 states and territories would amount to several hundred dollars a year.

If this ever came about it would put me out of business. If a state such as New York has a sales tax, it should enforce its own laws and not burden a small business in Maine with being its tax collector. It is bad enough that I have to be a tax collector for Maine.

Timothy Grant


Controversy damage

After reading the many articles related to Good Shepherd Food Bank, I can’t help but wonder how much damage this controversy about food prices and operating costs has done to the good name of this organization. Perhaps it is about time the board of directors ask Rick Small to step down from his leadership position at least until this matter can be resolved to the satisfaction of the many area food pantries that rely on GSFB.

Dan Bernard


With all due respect

My grandmother was one of the most beautiful and spiritual people I have ever met. She gave me many words of good advice. One I’ll never forget is: “Always give respect, always demand respect.” I am thinking of her words today.

The same-sex marriage vote is being revived in Maine. In 2009 there was a horrible display of undignified name calling from both sides. Both sides wanted respect but failed to give it in return.

I urge advocates for same-sex marriage to fight with dignity. We have truth on our side. We have facts. Fight with dignity. We can’t ask others to respect our beliefs if we don’t respect theirs.

If statistics are used to state facts then use statistics from a better source to state yours. If the Bible is used, use it to prove your side also. This country has a process that has to be followed. Don’t focus on opinions. Focus on hard work, determination and facts.

Don’t attack others, whether in the media, online or in person. Don’t desecrate their signs, don’t protest their places of worship.

All people in the United States should have the same rights. Isn’t that what we are fighting for? In order to achieve respect it must be given regardless of whether we feel the person deserves it. Fight with truth and respect for all. Hardworking, taxpaying American families in Maine are counting on us to do the right thing.

Nancy Rotkowitz


Honor first, market second

If you’re going to be in a parade celebrating the Fourth of July, Veterans Day or Memorial Day here in Bangor, have a flag or some red, white and blue on your vehicle. The blatant commercialism of car companies and oil company trucks detracts from the mission of the parades, which is to celebrate the sacrifices and determination of people who made and keep our country free. It’s not to sell your cars or get more oil business.

My father served in the Navy for many years. My mother was a Navy Wave. Both are part of the original group of Troop Greeters. My husband served in the Army, as did I. My brother has served in both Middle East wars and is still an Army soldier.

I am proud of my family’s service and proud of our service members, veterans, young scouts with their heartfelt homemade decorations and marching bands who practice patriotic music just for these parades. Cheap car and oil commercials cheapen our parades. Decorate your entries appropriately, reflecting the intent and honor of the event, or do not be in the parade.

Karen Beane


Sharing blame

I read the recent article concerning the town clerk Cindy Dunton’s theft of $200,000 over a three year period. It is my firm belief that the Town of Newburgh is complicit in that robbery and must share some of the guilt with her.

I was a town manager in two towns that suffered robberies. In one town, Etna, prior to my employment there, a town clerk was convicted of theft and she tried to burn down the town office. In the other town, when I realized that daily receipts were kept in a closet with a wood frame door, I decided that receipts would be accounted for on a daily basis and that money would be deposited nightly in the bank. Since the town clerks were reluctant to take the funds to the bank daily, I did the transport nightly. Sometime after I left, the daily receipts were kept in the closet once more and a robbery took place. I don’t know the amount of cash taken.

What I do know is that town employees are honest trustworthy people. The towns do not have the checks and balances for the tax and auto registration receipts, nor do they account for these funds properly, thereby providing a great temptation for honest people to become thieves.

That is why I am very disturbed to see people like Ms. Dunton be subjected to a bad reputation which could have been avoided by the town of Newburgh.

Robert G. Sharkey


Counties should step up

Regarding Diana Bowley’s article on tax liens in Piscataquis County: 181 liens in Milo, 104 in Brownville, etc. and then the fact that Milo selectmen reduced the mill rate to help taxpayers.

Considering that mill rates are going up every year, isn’t it time to abolish the multitude of town offices and employees and start saving a ton of money that could reduce property taxes by at least having county government assess property taxes? There should be one county office, not dozens of town offices.

Where my money is concerned, I want no part of open-ended expenses over which I have no control. Maybe Piscataquis County residents, hundreds of them now in foreclosure, had no idea what their future taxes were going to be. How many town employees in Maine are being supported by residential property taxes anyway? Hundreds? Thousands?

If the U.S. government can handle millions of income tax forms, I’m sure Maine is up to handling property taxes more efficiently and more cheaply by county rather than by town, by town, by town.

Pat McCutcheon


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