Retail: A more level playing field
Massachusetts retailers are looking forward to a more even field in 2013 by forcing online merchants to collect taxes on all purchases.
The effort to adopt a national Internet sales tax law appears to be gaining momentum, as the world’s largest online store, Amazon.com Inc., has expressed support for it while major retailers, such as Walmart, push legislation to eliminate what they see as an unfair advantage for online-only competitors.
Online retailers have been protected by a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that requires e-tailers to collect taxes only in states where they have a store or other outpost. This loophole cost Massachusetts $387 million in taxes in 2011 and nearly 2,000 jobs, according to a recent study by the Massachusetts Main Street Fairness Coalition, a group of retailers, elected officials, and labor unions.
The coalition and the Patrick administration plan to lobby the federal government to adopt a national Internet sales-tax law that would require all online merchants to collect and remit sales taxes.
But even if these efforts fail, the Patrick administration recently succeeded in getting Amazon to collect the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax from Massachusetts customers beginning in November. - Jenn Abelson