By Erin Mansfield
For Vermont Digger
Amazon.com began collecting sales tax from customers in Vermont starting on Feb. 1, a decision that political and business leaders said they have been working for years to achieve.
The online retail giant said it would start collecting the taxes five months before a new Vermont law would have required the company to start notifying customers every year that they should be paying sales tax.
Erin Sigrist, the president of the Vermont Retail and Grocers Association, called Amazon.com’s announcement “a welcome message for us.”
“We represent a significant portion of small businesses across the state, and many online retailers that don’t charge (customers) sales tax are basically reaping an unfair advantage over Vermont-based businesses and denying the state revenue it should be receiving,” Sigrist said.
“Vermont retailers work hard to provide quality products, meet the needs and price points of customers, and support our communities in a way that no online retailer will. Leveling the playing field by requiring all online retailers to collect the sales tax will allow all of our members to better serve Vermonters,” she added.
Despite selling to customers in Vermont for several years, Amazon.com has not been collecting the state’s 6 percent sales tax, according to Rep. Janet Ancel, (D-Calais,) the chair of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
Small businesses routinely collect sales tax from Vermont customers because they have bricks-and-mortar operations here, Ancel said, but Amazon.com has not been forced to comply because it does not have a physical presence in the state.
The Legislature passed language in its 2016 tax legislation requiring “noncollectors” such as Amazon.com to send annual letters to customers notifying them how much they need to pay the state in sales taxes. That law goes into effect for noncollectors July 1.
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