Kansas: onerous sales tax law

Neil Diamond and Deep Purple

This is a bit arcane, especially if you’re not in the United States. On October 1, “Texas and Kansas will be the latest states to tax remote sales – think online/mail order purchases – “leaving only two holdouts (Florida and Missouri) among the 45 states with sales tax.”

A business “must have nexus — a connection with a state — for the state to require the business to collect and remit sales tax.” It used to be that “sales tax nexus was based solely on physical presence: States couldn’t require an out-of-state seller with no physical presence in the state (remote seller) to collect and remit sales tax.”

Got that?

The Supreme Court’s 2018 “ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. enables states to tax remote sales… Wayfair authorizes states to require remote sellers in one state to collect and remit sales tax” based on their sales volume or the number of transactions in another state, what they call “economic nexus.”


Up until now, every state has had a minimum dollar amount or number of transactions before a business, say in New York, had to collect sales tax from Connecticut residents. New York business then sends that sales tax money to Connecticut, but only if that New York business had 200 transactions AND $100,000 in sales in Connecticut.

This generally exempted tiny businesses, such as most folks with an Etsy account.

“Many retailers are hoping Kansas will enact a small seller exception because as of this writing, it doesn’t have one.” This would be onerous for someone outside of Kansas selling online products to people in Kansas. This is especially true because each state has different sales tax rates and rules.

Why would the state enact such a draconian measure? The state is recovering from the multiple rounds of devastating budget cuts that occurred under former governor Sam Brownback.

On the other hand, there are the Eight Wonders of Kansas. There’s the world’s largest hand-dug well, the largest freshwater marsh in the interior U.S. and a massive underground salt museum.

KS Kansas – Abbreviation is the first and last letters, traditionally Kan. or Kans. Its capital is Topeka and its largest city is Wichita. I have never been there.

My favorite song by the group Kansas is Carry On, Wayward Son (#11 pop in 1977).

KY Kentucky – abbreviation the first and last letters, traditionally Ky., Ken., or Kent. Kentucky is one of four states designated as a Commonwealth.

I’ve been to Kentucky once, I think, to an ASBDC conference in 1993(?)

My favorite song about the state is Kentucky Woman, recorded by Neil Diamond, who wrote it (#22 pop hit in 1967), and Deep Purple (#38 in 1968). Considering the frequency I heard both versions in the day, their disappointing chart action surprises me.

The letter K for ABC Wednesday.

Librarians in America (and everywhere)

Working at FantaCo, the comic book store et al., has been very helpful in my current job. I know about balancing a checkbook, applying for a business loan, trying to get a better rate on a credit card.

Berkeley Lab Librarians Peter Palath and Michael Golden
Berkeley Lab Librarians Peter Palath and Michael Golden at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on Friday, October 6, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif.
My dear friend Deborah wonders if Asking Roger Anything would include her son asking me questions about finding work in libraries in America? (He is, last I knew, in France.)

Why, yes, it would. We should set up some online dialogue. Meanwhile, let me give you some general thoughts about being a librarian.

Whatever he already knows, in whatever field, is good. It’s because it will be useful in some yet unexplained way.

Working at FantaCo, the comic book store et al., has been very helpful in my current job. I know about balancing a checkbook, applying for a business loan, trying to get a better rate on a credit card.

Late last month, I gave a webinar about sales tax. It was, well, pretty damn good, according to the reviews.

My interest in such an arcane topic came from realizing that a comic book is a periodical and not subject to sales tax in New York State. But if you sell that same comic book for more than the cover price, it is then a “collectible” and therefore IS subject to sales tax.

(I know that last paragraph was REALLY exciting. Riveting, even. My friend Dave and I talked sales tax that very evening. Seriously. Of course he WORKS for the tax department.)

Working as an enumerator for the 1990 Census was likewise of great value to my current work. If you know the questions they ask, it informs what data might be available.

Librarians HAVE to be curious. You have to want to, no, need to know. You can be trained to do that, I suppose, but it REALLY helps if one is innately so disposed.

This is why my friends Judy and Jendy and Broome nagged me to go to library school in 1990. They KNEW. It was patently OBVIOUS to them, and eventually to me, that my mind works in a particular way. Ask my sisters; I’ve ALWAYS had a need to know.

He doesn’t have to be up on EVERY topic, just his areas of interest. But it is an occupational hazard that other people think librarians know everything about EVERYTHING, when it’s merely ALMOST everything.

This notion, BTW, is laid out in the book called The Library Book by Susan Orlean. Your son probably should read it. I’m about 2/3s of the way through.

Coffin doors and sales tax on bagels

“Guests would open a compartment on the ‘room’ side of the door and hang the clothes they wanted washed.”

On the 25th of April, the family stopped at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, NY. It was worthwhile trip, highlighted by seeing several quilts, one signed by over 100 country music artists.

We traveled on to Syracuse and stayed overnight. We had a lovely time at the Onondaga Lake Park on a beautiful Sunday, though I would have felt better had I remembered my sunglasses. Unfortunately, the Salt Museum wasn’t open yet for the season.

Then I was dropped off at the “newly restored” Marriott Syracuse Downtown, originally opened in 1924 as the Hotel Syracuse. It’s true that it had a lot of old structure style, such as elevator design, though I must say they operated much faster to the 10th floor than the elevators on the previous night traveled only a couple levels.

The Daughter was jealous of my view, and my room was only on the third floor. She was particularly fascinated by the coffin doors on many of the rooms. “The doors are unusually thick because they contain an interior space for guests to hang clothes they wished to have washed or dry-cleaned in the hotel’s laundry overnight.

“Guests would open a compartment on the ‘room’ side of the door and hang the clothes they wanted washed. Without disturbing the guests, hotel employees would come around at night and remove the clothes through a compartment on the side of the door facing the hallway.”

I was in Syracuse for the agency annual conference, about the only time during the year I actually see the people for whom our library provides reference services. There were several workshops, almost all of them informative.

The librarians also conducted a session. One talked about business apps, another talked about programmatic issues. I talked about sales tax. Boring, you say? Maybe, but sales tax in New York is weird.

For instance, is a bagel taxable? “Food that is prepared and arranged on a plate or platter by the seller, and that is ready to be eaten is taxable. It doesn’t matter whether the food is sold to be eaten at the store or another place, or whether it’s served hot or cold.” (Times Union, April 28, 2011.) So if a plain, unadorned bagel had been put in a bag, it would NOT be subject to sales tax.

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