As lawmakers continue to debate loads of tax legislation this session to cope with the state’s massive budget shortfalls, one bill aiming to expand online sales tax collections in the state, a.k.a. the Amazon bill, has quietly made it through a House committee.

A 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling determined that companies are only forced to collect state sales taxes if they have a physical site in the state. It’s this high court decision that’s given popular mega Web stores like Amazon and Overstock an edge over other retailers by not having to collect sales taxes.

The Pelican Institute for Public Policy reports that Louisiana, faced with a $1.6 billion budget shortfall, is joining a slew of other states in trying to come up with a way to collect sales taxes from the online giants by tying them to their in-state “affiliates,” or Web companies that profit from advertising or linking to another retailer’s merchandise.

House Bill 641 by state Rep. Rosalind Jones, D-Monroe, would force online retailers like Amazon to collect online sales taxes if their affiliates have physical ties to Louisiana:
HB 641’s objective is to open new revenue streams, close the budget deficit, and create a level playing field between brick-and-mortar and online retailers.
The Pelican Post says similar laws have been approved in New York, Texas, Rhode Island, and Illinois, but have done little to increase revenue for the states.

According to a report from The New York Times, Amazon is fighting back on the new laws popping up across the country, even shuttering a warehouse owned by its subsidiary to avoid paying a $269 million tax bill sent from the state of Texas.

Jones’ bill is awaiting a full House vote, though it was not yet on the calendar as of Friday morning.

Read more on the online sales tax issue here and here.

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