Collecting online sales tax puts Utah lawmakers, businesses at odds

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 3 2013 3:40 p.m. MST

Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, said that argument might have worked in the 1980s, but technology today is much more sophisticated. Online retailers that can identify what sites consumers visit and what they buy should be able to figure out how collect sales tax, he said.

The software to do that costs million of dollars and would be a burden on mom-and-pop shops that make up most of e-commerce, Johnson said.

"If they're being asked to collect sales tax nationwide, that's very difficult. It may, frankly, put them out of business," he said.

Bramble said many consumers today go to traditional stores to talk to a salesperson or test a product only to buy it online while standing in the store to avoid sales tax.

"The reason behind this whole movement is: How do we maintain a vibrant bricks-and-mortar retail establishment when there's this artificial advantage based on tax policy?" he said.

Despite their disagreement, Bramble, Harper and Johnson say Congress holds the key to a solution, and the Supreme Court leaving the New York law in place could be a catalyst for it to act.

"This will simply turn the heat up on Congress," Bramble said.


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