Taxing electronic commerce : the end of the beginning?

This article examines the taxation of electronic commerce and looks at what this "new frontier" in the fiscal wars may mean for future fiscal developments. The article first sketches three views on what the growth of e-commerce means for taxation and makes the obvious, but still important, point that, as yet, the fiscal implications of such commerce in practice remain limited, though the future may be different. The article then discusses what appear to be some of the key points at issue with respect to consumption taxes, noting some differences in the situations facing the United States, the European Union and Canada. As regards income taxes, the article notes that everyone seems to be in generally the same boat. The article also considers whether the new technology may offer solutions as well as create problems for those in the tax business. The article concludes that, on the whole, the sound and, at times, the fury of the international discussion on the taxation of electronic commerce have until now considerably exceeded its real significance.