Arizona Commerce Authority Director Don Cardon is incorrect in stating that Arizona does not tax Internet sales. The fact is that Internet sales ARE taxed in Arizona.
Purchase a flat-screen TV from bestbuy.com, you’ll pay sales tax. Buy a new patio set from homedepot.com, you’ll pay sales tax. Get a new laptop from walmart.com, you’ll pay sales tax. Order chlorine tablets for your pool from lesliespool.com, you’ll pay sales tax. Do some shopping at target.com, you’ll pay sales tax. Order a book from barnesandnoble.com, borders.com, or changinghands.com (your Arizona local independent bookseller) — and guess what — you’ll pay sales tax.
Order any of these items from Amazon.com, however, and sales tax is still OWED, but Amazon expects the consumer to be responsible for sending the corresponding sales tax to the State of Arizona. Really?
This tax evasion is what Amazon has termed a “favorable business climate.” How is this inequity favorable for any business but Amazon? Why would the State of Arizona not expect Amazon to play by the same rules as all other retailers in the state?
The fact of the matter is that when we allow Amazon to play by different rules, we lose…and we lose big. A University of Tennessee study puts the price tag at approximately $300 million. This is the estimated amount of sales tax revenue that Arizona is losing every year that Amazon is allowed to skirt their responsibility as a business operating in our state. Given the state of our local economy, can we really afford to continue giving Amazon a pass while we ask everyone else to pay their fair share?
The Arizona Retailers Association advocates for a favorable business environment for ALL Arizona businesses and we welcome Amazon’s continued investment in our state. Four million square feet is a significant presence and we look forward to Amazon’s continued growth. In return for the privilege of doing business in Arizona, however, we expect them to play by our rules — and we expect the State of Arizona to enforce them.
Michelle Ahlmer is executive director of the Arizona Retailers Association.