Some East Tennesseans who buy products from online retailer
Amazon.com have been receiving emails saying they need to pay a little
known state tax.
Customers who use Amazon.com will not have to pay a state sales tax
until 2014. However, they do need to pay a consumer use tax. That tax,
which is financially comparable to the Tennessee sales tax, is supposed
to be placed on any product customers buy from Amazon.com.
Past Story: Amazon will collect sales tax in Tenn.
The tax has been around since 1947. Billy Trout, a spokesperson with
the Tennessee Department of Revenue, said the state is aware not
everyone knows about the tax. However, he said it still expects people
to pay it.
"No reason to panic," said Billy Trout, a spokesperson
for the Tennessee Department of Revenue. "We certainly work with all
taxpayers in all different tax types. Our goal is to only receive the
correct amount of tax from each and every taxpayer in Tennessee. This
methodology that is being used now is one more attempt to make sure that
we collect the proper amount of tax.
More about the Consumer Use Tax
Amazon.com was forced to
notify its customers such a tax existed when the state signed into law
Tennessee Code T.C.A. 67-6-5 (f)(3) March 23.
The email Amazon
sent out to customers shows how much money they have spent on the
retailers' products. With that information in hand, customers are then
expected to file a consumer use tax return with the state.
Consumer Use Tax Form
returns can be filed on a quarterly or monthly basis if a customer makes
frequent purchases. If a customer owes the state back use taxes, they
should file an annual report for 2011 now.
"We ask that they do so promptly so we can collect the proper amount of tax," Trout said.
Toomey received an email from Amazon about the tax earlier this week.
She said at first she did not know what it was about.
"I didn't understand why they sent it to me," she said.
bought more than $100 worth of items from Amazon.com in 2011. She said
she thinks its unfair she has to go back and now pay that company even
"I think they should charge me when I make the purchase and not charge me a year later," Toomey said.
fight over whether Amazon.com should charge customers a sales tax has
been going on for some time within the Volunteer State.
Terry owns Rick Terry Jewelry Designs in Knoxville and Lenoir City. His
company has to charge a sales tax to customers. He told 10News all
companies, including Amazon should do the same.
"I don't think it's fair," he said. "I think Amazon should be paying sales tax.
But, he said he is not sure if the consumer use tax will level the playing field Amazon.com competes on with local businesses.
"My thought is most people are not going to pay that," Terry said.
to Trout, Amazon.com is the only company in the state of Tennessee that
has to tell its customers to obey the consumer use tax. That is
because it is the only company that fits the description of state Public
Amazon.com is not forwarding personal information
to the state of Tennessee nor is it alerting the state as to who has yet
to pay the consumer use tax. Trout told 10News the state's enforcement
efforts to make sure people pay the tax is ongoing as it collects
information from various taxing agencies and sources about which
residents are paying their taxes. He could not comment on whether
people who were unaware the tax existed should worry about enforcement.