The U.S. Senate is expected to vote soon on allowing state sales taxes on Internet orders. Both of Tennessee’s Republican senators are for it. Each year Tennessee misses out on hundreds of millions in sales taxes that aren’t collected from online shoppers.
Senator Bob Corker argues taxing sales online levels the playing field for brick-and-mortar retailers. In a statement this week he framed the matter as one of “states’ rights,” as did Senator Lamar Alexander at a press conference:
“I don’t like it when Washington experts want to force governors to play ‘mother, may I?’ to the United States Congress about whether they can collect taxes from everybody who owes taxes.”
A year ago Governor Bill Haslam lobbied Congress for the power to collect sales taxes from the likes of Internet giant Amazon. Opponents have sometimes argued the change amounts to a tax increase. Whether the proposal before the Senate could get past the U.S. House is uncertain.
It includes an exemption for smaller sellers bringing in less than $1 million from out of state.