Texas auditors go after Amazon.com for sales tax revenue

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by Joe Conger / KENS 5

Bio | Email | Follow: @joe_conger

kens5.com

Posted on October 26, 2010 at 4:44 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 26 at 7:34 PM

SAN ANTONIO --  “I lifted that foot too high, and it grabbed the thread wrong.”

As a modern-day cobbler working out of his garage, Dave Piper’s got a thriving business: making more than 50,000 sandals in 39 years. Piper has clients in Switzerland, France, Germany and Australia. He says the internet is his shop’s door. And it’s always open.
 
“The magic thing about the web is that it opens the world to you,” said Piper.
 
Dave Piper’s e-commerce means he collects sales tax for every pair he sells and ships in Texas. Piper says it is part of doing business.
 
He added, “Sales tax to me is the fairest tax. It’s the most legit of them all.”
 
But Piper’s Sandals are underfoot when compared to Amazon.com: The nation’s number one online retailer sells everything from books to car brakes, with a distribution center in Irving, Texas.
 
That’s billions of dollars in revenue each year.  And state officials say Amazon hasn’t paid the state of Texas any sales tax… yet.
 
“Whether online, or if you’re a regular brick and mortar with a shop on the corner, you’re required to pay a sales tax,” said Allen Spelce, a spokesperson for the Texas Comptroller Public Accounts.
 
The state has slapped Amazon with a $269,000,000 tax bill, which the online giant is fighting.
 
Spelce said for the state Texas, with its budget shortfalls, internet sales tax is money worth going after.
 
“We estimate that we’re losing about 600 million dollars a year in internet sales tax,” he said.

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