Arkansas – AR Amazon decision shifts debate

By Jamie Williams

The debate on Internet sales and use tax collection has shifted to what to do with the revenue in the wake of an announcement made by Amazon on Friday, according to state lawmakers from White County.

Amazon announced starting March 1 it would begin collecting and remitting sales tax on all online purchases made in Arkansas.

Speaker of the House Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia), speaking at the Searcy Regional Chamber of Commerce on Monday along with Senate President Pro Tempore Jonathan Dismang (R-Beebe) and Rep. Les Eaves (R-Searcy), said the debate over Internet sales tax in Arkansas “has been unfortunately in some cases characterized as a debate with Amazon on this, just because they were the largest of [online] retailers.”

“So there’s still other retailers out there and other entities out there that are not being dealt with,” Gillam said. “We’ll see if the dominoes begin to fall with that, if they start collecting and remitting as well.”

Gillam added that the announcement was “significant enough” to change the dynamic “publicly at least.”

Prior to Amazon’s announcement, two bills had been filed during the 91st legislative session of the Arkansas General Assembly addressing Internet sales tax. House Bill 1388, requiring out-of-state online retailers to notify customers in Arkansas that they owe sales taxes on their purchases, and Senate Bill 140, requiring large Internet retailers to collect and remit taxes from sales in Arkansas. The latter, which had been approved by the Senate with a 23-9 vote, was rejected by the House Revenue and Taxation Committee on Tuesday.

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