Last year, the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon.com, entered into a voluntary agreement with the state of Texas that included their creation of at least 2,500 jobs and $200 million in capital investments in the state, as well as the collection and remitting of Texas sales tax on July 1, 2012.
It is important to note this is not a new tax. The Texas Use Tax is outlined under Tax Code 151.101 and 151.102 and has been on the books since 1961. The Tax Code is clear: if a retailer has a physical presence in this state, they must collect Texas sales and use taxes. As a state officer, I have taken an oath to uphold the laws of Texas, and I can’t choose to enforce them selectively.
While our national economy remains rocky at best, Texas continues to attract companies wanting to do business here. Amazon is a perfect example. Per the agreement, Amazon is moving facilities to Texas, so the law requires them to collect local sales and use taxes.
Local retailers in Texas applaud this agreement. Many of these local businesses have faced a competitive disadvantage because they have collected local and state sales taxes, while out of state e-tailers have not. These employers create local jobs, contribute to state and local services, and invest in the local community. Now they will no longer be at a competitive disadvantage with the largest online retailer.
As a fiscal conservative, it is my goal to keep the tax burden low. However, when the state taxes certain transactions, we have a duty to make sure it is fairly applied so that we don’t pick winners and losers in the marketplace.
I applaud Amazon for making this commitment to Texas and collecting sales tax like thousands of retailers across this state. Many vital, day-to-day functions that touch every Texan are supported in part by sales taxes. If we want to keep them healthy Internet sales must be treated like any others, particularly given the skyrocketing growth of e-commerce.
The Comptroller can be reached at P.O. Box 13528 Austin, TX 78711-3528
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