Pa. wants its fair share of taxes from Internet sales

    Pennsylvania’s Department of Revenue is making itself clear when it comes to online retail and sales tax.

    Department officials are honing in on “remote sellers,” those out-of-state businesses that sell things to people in Pennsylvania but do so by phone, or catalog, or the internet.

    State Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser said such businesses have to pay sales tax if they have any kind of physical presence in the state, such as a warehouse or delivery trucks.

    He said the agency’s announcement was prompted by brick-and-mortar store owners who feel that e-commerce businesses are getting off scot-free.

    “We felt that they were right in feeling as if they were not playing on a fair playing field,” Meuser said. “And that’s why we felt like a reasonable approach was to issue a clarification of the law as very much of a reminder to all businesses.”

    If a business ignores the latest bulletin, the department can legally check its tax-collection history going back three years.

    Meuser said consumers will also be able to submit a “use tax” starting next year on the state personal income tax form.

    Use tax is paid on e-commerce items that don’t include a sales tax.

    The commonwealth estimates it will lose $380 million this year because of unpaid sales tax on items purchased online.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Help us get to 100% of our membership goal to support the reporters covering our region, the producers bringing you great local programs and the educators who teach all our children.