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Local Businesses Celebrate Level Playing Field Provided By Online Sales Tax Collection


Local businesses are celebrating news that Amazon will start collecting sales tax from Oklahoma customers next month.

Morgan Harris, owner of Green Bambino, says this money is something which could go a long way to helping shore up some of the budget issues in Oklahoma.

"Collecting sales tax from Amazon purchases is easy money that's left on the table. And nobody wants to pay more in tax, but the truth is that this was a tax that the citizens of Oklahoma did already owe, but most of us don't pay because you have to keep up with all of those records."

Harris says the honor system has not been a successful way to get buyers to pay the taxes they owe to Oklahoma.

"Voluntary remittance of taxes has about a 4% success rate. So, of all the citizens of Oklahoma, most of us purchase at least one thing online each year. And about 4% of us actually remit the use tax at the end of the year."

She says this also helps level the playing field for brick and mortar stores which have been required to charge a sales tax even if the purchase is done online.

An estimated $300 million a year could be collected by the state once sales tax for online purchases begins.

Gov. Mary Fallin says the online retail giant will begin collecting sales taxes in March, and that the money will begin flowing into the state in May.

She says the revenue will not affect this year's current $870 million budget hole, because the Tax Commission already projected some increased collections as a result of their negotiations with Amazon.

But the governor says she expects cities and towns will see an increase this fiscal year in the amount they receive from Amazon.

Michael Cross is the host of KOSU's Morning Edition.
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