The Norman Transcript

Opinion

December 3, 2013

Taxes on cyber shopping

NORMAN — We look for states like Oklahoma to renew their interest in collecting sales taxes on items sold online. The Supreme Court this week declined to get involved in a New York state fight to collect taxes on Amazon.com and Overstock.com.

That means the states and some localities will push the issue in Congress, which could decide if online sellers should be subject to the same rules that brick-and-mortar stores live with.

The court’s refusal to intervene on “Cyber Monday,” a shopping promotion intended to drive website commerce. If Congress acts, it could be the last time such sales are made without sales taxes collected.

Like many similar states, Oklahoma does not collect sales taxes on a company’s commerce unless that company has a physical presence here. A state legislature trade group estimates U.S. states lost $23.3 billion in 2012. No such number exists for cities and counties.

Oklahoma has a big dog in the fight, since much of state government and the biggest revenue item for cities and towns is sales taxes. Counties are in on the act, too, as numerous Oklahoma counties have temporary sales taxes.

Local retailers say they often are used as showrooms for web shoppers who look at products, buy online and then are expected to fix or replace faulty items.

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