Amazon, online retailers start collecting Pa. sales tax

Pennsylvania residents are now paying a little more for their online purchases from Internet retailing giant Amazon.com and other online merchants. On Saturday, rules requiring some online retailers to collect the state’s sales tax took effect.

 

The state Department of Revenue released instructions in December requiring retailers who have any physical presence in the state to collect the tax. That presence includes distribution centers, employees, or using their own shipping trucks.

The change creates a level playing field for brick-and-mortar businesses, says Dan Meuser, secretary of the Department of Revenue.

“Some say that they have turned into showrooms for e-retailers. And that’s not fair and that’s because, frankly, the department hadn’t been doing its job as well as it should have been in the past, by enforcing this law,” he said.

The state anticipates bringing an estimated $42 million from now until the fiscal year ends June 30.

Amazon is one of the most visible businesses that now must collect Pennsylvania’s 6 percent sales tax. The company collects sales tax in just five states. New Jersey will join that number next summer. And Delaware doesn’t have a tax.

But the state-by-state tax collection approach is untenable, online retailers say.

“The sales tax issue ultimately must be resolved at the federal level,” said Scott Stanzel, an Amazon spokesman.

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