April 22, 2013
Your tax-free days of online shopping are numbered. If S743, also known as the Marketplace Fairness Act, becomes law, the millions of Americans who have been able to avoid sales tax online will have to start paying it. Given the broad support shown by today’s US Senate vote, some version of it is likely to come to fruition.
The bill will compel companies having annual online sales of more than $1 million to collect sales tax on those purchases. Interstate sales have long been exempted from sales tax, but brick-and-mortar businesses have just as long complained about the edge that online businesses have since they avoid collecting taxes. A key opponent of online taxation, retail giant Amazon, recently switched sides after losing some key legal and political battles over taxation. Amazon already collects taxes on sales in nine states, including California, New York, and Texas.
Technically this wouldn’t be a new tax, since California residents who make purchases from an online company are responsible for paying those taxes. But there’s never been an efficient way to collect such taxes so it rarely happens.