S ay what you want about the different forms of taxation we're all subjected to because we're citizens of this country, this state, this county, this school district and this municipality, but the fairest of all -- in my mind -- is the state sales tax.
There are more forms of taxation in this country than you can count on all of your fingers and thumbs -- income, property, sales, imports, estates, gift, gas, tolls, user fees and on and on and on.
Generally, I'm pretty fond of user taxes on the theory if you use something, you should pay for the privilege. If you don't want to pay for it, don't use it.
That won't apply to everything, of course, but it touches most things.
Same goes for sales taxes.
I know my choice of sales taxes over, say, federal and state income taxes will not sit well with some people. They believe federal and state income taxation is the fairest tax of them all because people are assessed according to their ability to pay -- the more money they earn, the higher their taxes.
In theory, that might be true. But in reality, it doesn't work that way. Millions of people either pay no taxes at all on their income or don't pay as much tax as their income calls for.
They avoid paying income taxes by using the loopholes built into the tax code or they simply choose to cheat on their taxes.
There is nothing fair about that. Not to me, not to anyone who pays their taxes. I don't like paying taxes, but I consider it my responsibility as a citizen to pay my fair share of the cost of government. Add it all up, and I believe I pay my fair share and then some.
So I do not consider income taxes fair. Not even close. It could be fair, but only if everyone participated the way they should. They don't, so it isn't. Thank the federal tax code for that.
State sales taxes, however, touch everyone equally. Never mind your level of income, your social status, where you live, what you drive, how much money you have saved, how many children you have, how many kids you have in college or anything else.
In this state, if you buy something you pay a 6 percent sales tax on it. No loopholes. No exemptions. No nothing.
I don't know how it gets any fairer than that. And it doesn't matter if you're buying a CD, a cell phone, a car, a boat or an airplane, it's still 6 percent.
It is, in fact, the only time people who avoid paying taxes on their income -- especially those living in the underground economy and tax cheats -- are forced to contribute to the system.
There's no cheating sales tax -- except shoplifting, I guess.
Which is more than I can say about income taxes.
So in 2012, when the state decided it was going to enforce a 60-year-old law by collecting sales taxes that were not paid when residents of Pennsylvania purchased something online, I was in favor of it.
The state decided it would give taxpayers an opportunity to voluntarily report their online purchases and pay their sales tax when reporting their income taxes for the year.
I might have been one of, hmmmmm, maybe 50 people in the whole state who actually reported online purchases on my state income taxes, and paid the sales tax at that time. OK, maybe one in 50 is a slight exaggeration, but I'll bet not by much.
At 6 percent on about $1,000 in online purchases -- I paid about $60 or thereabouts. And I thought that was more than fair.
Fair to me, and fair to the thousands of merchants and retailers located in York County who lose sales to online businesses because they're forced to charge and collect sales tax on a purchase at the point of sale.
As taxes go, sales taxes are relatively painless. At least that's how I see it.
And now the feds are hoping to make life easier on states by mandating that online sellers must collect state and local sales taxes on all online purchases.
That piece of legislation sits in the U.S. Senate right now. It'll be voted on this week. Then on to the House. It's likely to become the law of the land.
Which is fine with me because it does level the playing field for local merchants who are forced to do the state's bidding, while online businesses do not.
It's a fairness issue in more ways than one.
And it's about time.
Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.