Congress has been reluctant to pass e-tax legislation, and while several states have approved or debated such bills, they all but invite a court fight and a hard-press lobbying effort by big online retailers.
The General Assembly passed a bill in 2012 aimed at getting Amazon.com to start collecting sales taxes, and in 2013 the company decided to do so. Three years later it announced plans for a distribution center in Jackson County, which means it might have fallen under the Supreme Court ruling anyway.
Powell said many other e-retailers still don’t collect or remit the taxes to the state.
“Part of what we are trying to do is collect the sales and use taxes (state and local governments) are entitled to but find hard to collect,” Powell told his committee this week. “Part of this is a fairness issue.”
He added that state sales tax collections have been relatively flat since the end of the Great Recession in part because online, tax-free sales have continued to increase.
A report suggests collecting those taxes could mean an extra $274 million in revenue for the state and $200 million for local governments. Not surprisingly, a lobbyist for Georgia’s cities told the committee his organization supported Powell’s efforts.
The committee chairman said he expects the issue will wind up in court if HB 61 passes. But his committee sounded ready to get that legal debate started.
"We're not here to give one business an advantage over another," said state Rep. David Knight, R-Griffin. "The government shouldn't say one business should be paying taxes and one shouldn't. We shouldn't be choosing winners or losers on taxes."
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