Cumberland Times-News

February 27, 2013

Tomblin wants to collect sales tax from online retailers

LAWRENCE MESSINA
Associated Press

— CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Online retailers like Amazon that have facilities within West Virginia would have to collect the state’s 6 percent sales tax on purchases by residents, under legislation introduced Wednesday for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

The governor’s proposal opens a new bid to reap revenues from e-commerce. Brick-and-mortar businesses, which are subject to sales taxes, complain they must compete with online rivals on an unfair playing field. West Virginia has long belonged to a multi-state coalition that pursues sales taxes through cooperating retailers. Wednesday’s bill also comes amid similar efforts in other states and in Congress, where the latest version of the proposed Marketplace Fairness Act was introduced earlier this month.

Tomblin’s measure would apply to an out-of-state retailer that maintains a warehouse, office or other facility in West Virginia. Amazon recently opened a 70,000-square-foot customer service center in Huntington. A spokesperson for the Seattle-based e-commerce giant did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.