It's not uncommon to read stories about companies that stretch the rules to avoid paying taxes. But currently there's a tax that many companies are already paying, though at present they have no legal obligation to do so.The Streamlined Sales Tax Program, the tax designed to recoup perceived lost state tax revenues due to online and other out-of-state sales, is chugging along, even though federal legislation to institute it on a permanent basis appears to be standing still.

As of Jan. 1, 2007, 21 states will be officially participating. The program, which was roughly five years in the making, was to formulate an interstate agreement for a simplified sales and use collection system that could be used by retailers regardless of location.

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