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Eye On Boise

Tue., Jan. 26, 2010, 1:06 p.m.

Jorgenson: Idaho should take first step toward capturing taxes on Internet sales

Idaho is losing an estimated $35 million a year in sales taxes on Internet sales, says Hayden Lake Sen. Mike Jorgenson, and the state ought to join 23 other states in the Streamlined Sales Tax Compact as a first step toward doing something about it. "Beyond that, there's nothing else we can do," Jorgenson said. "It's really up to Congress to do something - we can't do anything independently, except for joining the compact."

Idaho already has a law requiring residents to pay sales tax on their Internet and catalogue purchases. They're supposed to report them on their income tax returns and pay up, but few do, and it's near-impossible to enforce. The interstate compact is a joint effort among states to conform definitions and so forth in their sales tax codes to allow eventual taxing of Internet sales if Congress acts. Jorgenson has a bill to join the compact up for introduction this afternoon in the Senate Local Government & Tax Committee. But he said the plan is to introduce the bill there, but then hold it, in favor of a House version to be introduced in the House Revenue & Taxation Committee. "We have reliable information that the House would be more comfortable to start it there," Jorgenson said. Measures that raise tax revenue must start in the House, though Jorgenson said this bill wouldn't raise tax revenue. "They're marking their territory," he said. "I don't care where it starts. ... If it were to get out of the House, I would certainly carry it over here." Similar legislation has died before on the House floor.

Idaho was actually one of the original states involved in working on the compact, but lawmakers have never endorsed formally signing on.

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