Back in December I opened the floor for a debate over whether or not Georgia should require online retailed like Amazon to collect sales taxes. The debate was lively. Recently Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform weighed in and he didn’t like it. Nevertheless some in the House appear ready to move forward with a bill:
Taxing the Internet is a complicated chore. According to current federal law, a company is obliged to pay a sales tax only if it has an actual presence in that state – a “physical nexus.” Amazon.com has no facility in Georgia.
A bill in the works will attempt to tax Amazon.com’s advertisers – “affiliates” that have a physical presence in the state, said state Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, who is drawing up the measure.
He has small shop owners in Fayette County who complain that they now serve as showrooms for their Internet competitors. Shoppers will come to their stores to get a feel for the item – a grill, a drill, a toaster – and then place their order, via their smart phones, with an Internet store for the tax-free discount.
“That’s just not fair to me. I think that is tantamount to corporate welfare,” Ramsey said. The lawmaker said the bill will include an offset so that the state posts no revenue gain from the bill. Perhaps, Ramsey said, the state will reinstate those sales tax holidays that disappeared at the start of the recession.
I should point out that current Georgia law requires people who purchase items online to remit the sales tax themselves.