Amazon and Its Fight To NOT Collect Sales Tax: Great Tax Planning???
Amazon and its fight to NOT collect sales tax - the battle across the country that seems to be in the press constantly. Is it great tax planning or aggressive tax planning? Is it "tax avoidance" or "tax evasion"?
I know those are strong terms, but I just want to raise the discussion. I am a taxpayer advocate, I fight for taxpayers every day. With that said, I wonder if Amazon's efforts are really helping or hurting the Internet or remote retailer community at large? Has it helped limit the methods that states have tried to utilize to reach Internet and remote retailers? Or has it brought a lot of extra attention to this industry, which in turn has made it an easy target for states that are hurting for money. For example, since January 1, 2011, 10 or so states have introduced "amazon.com" nexus or "click-through" nexus standards. In addition, a few other states have introduced nexus presumption standard legislation and notice requirement legislation.
The use tax "gap" will continue to grow as online sales continue to grow. Unfortunately, I think something is going to have to change to allow states to collect the sales tax or use tax that is due, in an easier manner. I know constitutional nexus standards and court case nexus standards should not be quickly overturned or disregarded, but like I said, something needs to change.
One final note, regardless if what the press is saying is accurate or not regarding the situation, the press does not paint a "nice" picture of Amazon to the tax-paying community.
What do you think?
Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State Tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website: www.leveragestateandlocaltax.com
You can reach Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because state and local taxes are deceptively simple and endlessly complicated.