On any given subject, we have real live experts among our readership. Hence, it would be interesting and valuable to offer for discussion issues that may (or may not) make their way to the Capitol for consideration. I’ll be posting topics for debate from time to time and I hope these posts will lead to a vigorous and informative discussion.
Today I want to offer for discussion the idea of requiring online retailers such as Amazon, to charge state and local sales taxes on their sales. As I understand it, current Georgia law requires individuals who purchase items online to pay Georgia sales tax. However, the online retailer does not collect the tax, it’s up to the purchaser to calculate and remit payment on their own. That’s simply not going to happen very often and it’s difficult to enforce that law.
Advocates of taxing internet sales will point to what they say amounts to a competitive advantage for a company that sells their merchandise only online. If you are a small retailer, doing business in Georgia with Georgians, you collect state and local sales taxes while your internet only competitor doesn’t have to. In a competitive market, small differences in price can have a huge impact on people’s purchasing decisions.
Opponents would say that since they have no retail location and may in fact have no physical presence in Georgia they should not be required to collect these taxes. In addition, collecting sales taxes in all fifty states, and being required to deal with the variations of local law could be expensive.
This issue is not going away. As more people purchase items online, many brick and motar retailers will face increasing competition from their online only retailers. Thusfar this holiday season, online sales are approaching $27 billion.
For the first 42 days of the November to December 2011 holiday shopping season, online spending (through Dec. 12) online spending has reached $26.8 billion, up 15 percent from the same time period last year.
Where do you stand on this issue?
UPDATE: I received an email from a reader telling me I better pay my taxes or he was going to report me for tax evasion. He helpfully provided a link to the form I need to fill out. Thanks for contributing to the discussion sir.
UPDATE 2 11Alive: State reminds consumers to pay tax on online purchases