The Big Story Blog

Do online retailers hold an unfair edge on taxes?

Posted at 6:20 AM on November 17, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Taxes

You buy a TV on, click to check out and see there's no sales tax charged. You think to yourself, "cool." Had you bought the same product at the local Target, Minnesota sales tax would have been added to the tab. Online? No.

It's a reality that's angered brick-and-mortar businesses in Minnesota and across the nation for more than a decade -- Amazon and other online retailers aren't required to collect local sales taxes in states where they don't have a physical presence. It's effectively a better deal for consumers who buy online but don't pass the sales tax onto the state.

But things might be ready to change.

A push in Washington to let states collect sales taxes through a new, uniform system is gaining support. It's also divided the electronic retailing industry -- Amazon is for it while Ebay and others remain opposed.

We'll look today at the issues surrounding online retailers and taxes and the changes that might be coming. You can help. Tell us your experience with online retailers and sales taxes.

About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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