States, consumers face bewildering rules with online sales taxes

Kansas City StarFebruary 4, 2011 

Have you paid up yet?

You bought all those great Christmas gifts online that you thought were sales-tax-free. Then when you realized you did owe taxes on the purchases, you had to write that check to the state. Buzzkill.

What’s that? You didn’t pay a nickel?

No sweat. Virtually no one pays.

Yet the idea of all those uncollected tax dollars — one university study said governments would miss out on $11 billion this year — has a growing number of going-broke states increasingly frustrated by what’s known as e-commerce.

Imagine how this is going over at the local strip mall, where store owners risk prosecution if they don’t collect sales taxes.

“People will actually tell us, ‘I’d love to buy from you, but …’ The sales tax on a $1,000 camera is $80,” said Mitch Pence, a co-owner of Photographx Unlimited in Kansas City, North. “It’s a big issue for us.”

Forcing online retailers to collect sales taxes hasn’t been easy.

Read the complete story at

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