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Amazon tax expands to 3 more states

By Kay Bell · Bankrate.com
Thursday, January 2, 2014
Posted: 4 pm ET

Attention online shoppers in Indiana, Nevada and Tennessee. I hope you stocked up on your orders from Amazon before 2014 arrived.

As of Jan. 1, the online retail giant is collecting taxes on products purchased by residents of those three states.

That brings the number of states in which Amazon collects sales taxes to 19. The others are Arizona, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

More state sales taxes coming?

Will shoppers in the rest of the United States see a sales tax line added to their Amazon and other online invoices in 2014? Possibly.

In the states where it has agreed to collect sales taxes, Amazon has expanded its physical presence, generally by building warehouses or distribution centers. Those structures provide the necessary legal nexus for states to demand tax collection.

In New York, however, where Amazon has no physical facilities, the Seattle-based company lost its bid to prevent the Empire State from requiring it to collect sales taxes on shipments. New York tax officials' justification is the Amazon affiliates who live in the state and receive commissions for their online links to the retailer.

Overstock.com had joined Amazon in seeking Supreme Court intervention to stop the law, but the nation's high court in December refused to hear the case, leaving the New York statute in effect.

In its appeal filings, Overstock had argued that the New York law "functionally abrogates the physical-presence requirement." Now in order to avoid the New York sales tax requirement, Amazon, Overstock and similar online sellers must end their affiliates programs.

Nationwide law pending in Congress

Online retailers also must keep an eye on Congress.

The Marketplace Fairness Act, which would require online sales tax collection across the United States, was approved by the Senate last year. The House Judiciary Committee chairman is seeking input on his seven principles for Internet taxation, indicating that chamber might move the legislation this year.

Do you shop online? Is it still tax-free in your state? Will your shopping habits change if nationwide collection of sales tax on online purchases is enacted?

And you do know that you're probably supposed to be paying use tax to your state for those tax-free online purchases, right?

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Veteran contributing editor Kay Bell is the author of the book "The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes" and co-author of the e-book "Future Millionaires' Guidebook."

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21 Comments
Pat Drew, Encinitas
January 10, 2014 at 3:29 pm

I have to agree with Cted, as much as I dislike paying taxes. But, it is the only fair way to go. We do need to protect our local small business retailers.

Cted
January 07, 2014 at 8:07 pm

About time. It makes sense to make it fair. Brick and mortar stores have to pay sales tax and Amazon doesn't that gives online retailers an advantage they simply shouldn't have. Local stores will become more competitive. IF we continue to give online retailers all the advantages local stores will dry up.

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