Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Wednesday, October 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 63° Partly Cloudy

Eye On Boise

State Tax Commission won’t release deal with Amazon on sales taxes

By Kimberlee Kruesi, Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho State Tax Commission is refusing to disclose details about an online sales tax deal with Amazon, which went into effect over the weekend.

The agreement allows the giant e-commerce company to start collecting sales tax for the state on internet purchases shipped to Idaho.

However, according to the commission, state law bans discussing specific information about an individual taxpayer even though the agreement will impact nearly all Idaho taxpayers.

A commission spokeswoman also declined to discuss how much sales tax revenue the state is expected to receive from Amazon and what the state offered Amazon to begin collecting the taxes.

"All we can say is that Amazon has a seller's permit effective April 1, 2017. Any information beyond that is protected by the Idaho taxpayer confidentiality laws," commission spokeswoman Renee Eymann wrote in a statement provided to the office of Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter.

State Tax Commissioner Rich Jackson told Eye on Boise on Tuesday that he's heard the same estimates that lawmakers discussed late in their session this year, $15 million to $30 million a year. "It's an unknown, but most of the estimates I've heard have been in that general range," he said.

Jackson said, "We were pleased to see Amazon do it, because we didn't want to be the last state. That's proactive for the taxpayers of Idaho and Amazon and everybody."

Amazon confirmed it had brokered a deal with the state on March 16. Otter's office then praised the deal.

"We consider this a matter of fairness," Mark Warbis, Otter's spokesman, said in a prepared statement.

Emails obtained by The Associated Press under a public records request show the commission did talk media logistics with Otter's office before the deal was made public.

Amazon now collects sales taxes in all 45 states that have a state sales tax. It reached agreements with the final four states - Idaho, Hawaii, Maine and New Mexico - to start collecting the tax April 1.

Idaho shoppers have always owed state sales taxes on purchases they made online, but the rule has been widely ignored because it requires consumers to self-report and pay the taxes on their own.

Idaho and other states have spent years examining ways to capture the lost tax dollars, but their options are limited when the retailers are not based in the state.

A 1992 Supreme Court decision said retailers must have a physical presence in a state before officials can make them collect sales tax.

It's unclear if the Amazon deal in Idaho will prompt a larger effort to collect sales taxes from all online retailers.

Lawmakers in Arkansas and Utah failed to finalize a tax collection proposal during their legislative sessions this year despite securing separate deals with Amazon.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus
« Back to Eye On Boise
Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

Follow Betsy online: