Reporting Larry Richert
PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) - So you buy something online- maybe shoes from Zappos.com, or a new comforter on Overstock.com. Not only have you shopped around for the best price, but- score!- you didn’t have to pay sales tax.
Not so fast, savvy shopper. If you pay attention to your state income tax forms, you’ll notice there’s a section on claiming items bought online. Legally, you have to keep track of all of your Internet purchases, and for the ones that didn’t take sales tax, you’re supposed to claim those purchases and pay the sales tax. Brian Rider, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Retailers Association, says that all that revenue lost is hurting the state and local retailers.
“It has placed brick-and-mortar stores, whether it’s a small mom and pop store or big box chain store, at a competitive disadvantage for years,” says Rider. “When individuals shop online, and unless your state has done something to enforce this, customers are not paying the sales tax. These online remote sellers have a competitive advantage.”
Rider tells KDKA-AM’s Larry and John that it’s all about market fairness and enforcing the law that says we all must pay sales tax on eligible items. He says that the U.S. Senate is currently debating the Marketplace Fairness Act, which will require all online sellers to collect sales tax in the state they operate in.
“I truly believe the support is there for the United States Senate to pass this,” says Rider. “It may have an uncertain future in the House, though.”
Despite what happens in Washington, D.C., Rider says Pennsylvania already has a law on the books to collect online sales tax.
“Any remote online seller that has a physical presence in Pennsylvania is required to collect and remit the sales tax. If they’re not doing it, the consumer still owes this tax via the use tax,” says Rider.