The House Revenue & Taxation Committee has opened its hearing this morning on the streamlined sales tax bill, HB 581, which would allow Idaho to tax Internet sales once Congress gives the go-ahead. Tina Wilson of Bonners Ferry was the first called to testify. “Speaking on behalf of our community, I just wanted to ask you to consider this bill and give it your support,” she told the lawmakers. “We'd like to balance the scales.” Wilson said, “You know, when you shop on the Internet and you see the box stores … you see 'free shipping' … 'exempt from sales tax' … suddenly the Internet has an advantage over the small-town, Main Street businesses.”
Idaho State Tax Commission Chairman David Langhorst told the committee that the bill would get Idaho at the table as national policy for taxing Internet sales is crafted. “We will be subject to rules and laws made by other states if we don't,” he said. “I strongly support this.” He said state estimates suggest Idaho is losing out on more than $30 million a year in sales taxes that are due by law, but not collected; people are supposed to report their Internet, catalog or other out-of-state purchases on their Idaho income tax returns and pay the sales tax then, but few do, and there's little enforcement.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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