Nevada sales tax plan targets Amazon, other e-companies


RENO -- A coalition of hotel-casinos and small businesses is launching a $50,000 advertising campaign to build support for a change in tax laws so Amazon.com and dozens of other e-commerce companies would have to collect state sales taxes when they sell goods to Nevadans.

Leaders of the Retail Association of Nevada and the Nevada Resort Association planned a formal announcement today detailing the proposals they hope to persuade state lawmakers to consider as amendments to pending legislation as early as this week.

Projecting increased annual revenue of at least $16 million, they argue the move would only change the way the taxes are collected, not implement additional taxes in contradiction of Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval's opposition to any new taxes.

"It is not a new tax. It is a collection issue," said Bryan Wachter, president of the Nevada Retailers Association .

Under current law, Amazon.com is not required to collect the sales tax in Nevada. Amazon.com customers here must fill out tax forms concerning their purchases and send their sales tax payments to the Nevada Taxation Department.

The problem, Wachter said, is few people are aware of that, and even fewer actually do it. Meanwhile, Amazon.com Inc. and others refuse to collect the sales tax in Nevada at a cost of millions to the state.

Amazon has argued for years that without stores and offices in the state, it has no obligation to collect sales taxes .

Wachter said the current system is unfair to traditional retail outlets that collect state sales taxes. They do so because they also sell through retail stores in Nevada.

The Nevada coalition suggests a variety of ways to make the change in state tax law based on variations recently enacted in New York, Texas, Colorado and Illinois, all of which Amazon maintains are unconstitutional.

Amazon maintains the only legal way to require collection of the sales taxes is for Congress to mandate a uniform system across the country, something Congress has been reluctant to do.

Amazon "supports a truly simple national solution, evenhandedly applied," said Paul Misener, Amazon's vice president for Global Public Policy.

"Other state-by-state legislation is clearly unconstitutional," he said in an emailed statement Sunday.

 

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