Retailers want Amazon sales tax - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Retailers want Amazon sales tax

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If you buy a book or an album on Amazon.com, you may have noticed you didn't have to pay any sales tax. That might change soon. 

Amazon announced just last month it would open two new distribution centers - one in Chesterfield and the other in Dinwiddie. Now retailers want to use that big announcement to force the online giant to charge its customers sales taxes, just like everyone else.

Jay Leavitt runs the record store Deep Groove in the Fan. He hopes forcing Amazon to charge its customers sales tax could help his business.

"It certainly would level the playing field," Leavitt said. "I think maybe someone might decide to shop locally versus going through Amazon. It might make a difference in that regard."

He says right now Amazon has a leg up on its competition.

"I know that's an advantage of buying online," he said. "You don't have to pay sales tax but taxes are taxes. Nobody likes to pay taxes and locally, we have to pay our taxes."

Retail groups are hoping to use Amazon's recent expansion in Chesterfield and Dinwiddie to its advantage.

Amazon opened a similar facility in Texas. Lawmakers there were able to successfully pass legislation to force Amazon to pay that state's sales tax because it had a plant in that state.

Jodi Roth is with the Virginia Retail Merchants Association. She wants to copy what Texas did here in Virginia. Her organization is lobbying for legislation during this session in the General Assembly that would close the loophole.

"As it stands right now, Amazon has a sales tax holiday every day, a five percent advantage," Roth said. "We welcome the competition, we just want to make it a fair and level playing field."

The Virginia Retail Merchants Association says it plans to introduce legislation later this week.

We called Amazon's corporate headquarters in Seattle for a response, but our calls were not returned. 

The distribution centers should create about 1300 jobs in Chesterfield and Dinwiddie. They should be up and running this fall. 

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