October 7, 2011 In good news for the state’s bricks-and-mortar bookstores and other local retailers, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced yesterday that Amazon.com has agreed to begin collecting sales taxes from buyers in the state on January 1, 2014.
Amazon had argued that federal law protects vendors from the need to collect taxes on online sales unless they also have a retail presence in the state, but Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper ruled on Wednesday that an existing state law already requires sales-tax collection from any online outlet with distribution facilities or warehouses in Tennessee. Amazon is in the process of building three distribution centers in the state.
Nevertheless, a spokesman for the Alliance for Main Street Fairness in Tennessee, a coalition of bricks-and-mortar stores fighting Amazon’s exemption from the requirement to collect sales taxes, did not express jubilation at Amazon’s capitulation of the point: “If Amazon can agree to start collecting the sales tax in one year in California, why should we have to wait one day longer in Tennessee?” asked Mike Cohen. “How many Tennessee jobs are lost, how many Tennessee businesses will close because the state grants Amazon a huge price advantage by not having to charge sales taxes?”
To read more about the dispute between Amazon and other Tennessee retailers, click here.
For more updates on Tennessee authors, please visit Chapter 16’s News & Notes page, here.