Texans now pay sales tax at Amazon.com

Brick-and-mortar retailers say it levels playing field

Published On: Jul 02 2012 06:27:35 PM CDT   Updated On: Jul 02 2012 06:44:40 PM CDT
SAN ANTONIO -

Put books, electronics and a lot of other merchandise into your Amazon.com cart and you now see something new at checkout: sales tax.

While consumers may not celebrate paying the taxes, retailers are cheering what they call an end to an unfair advantage.

Priscilla Francis Gonzales buys books for her kids on Amazon.com.

"I like the fact you could get it without sales tax," she said. "You could always find a good deal."

At The Twig Book Shop at The Pearl Brewery, manager Claudia Macea Sharp was pleased with what many brick-and-mortar retailers claimed was an unfair advantage for Amazon.

"We are really excited this will help level the playing field," she said. "That seems to be the buzzword these days. We ship books all over the world, and we pay taxes whenever that is within Texas. So, if we have to do it, why haven't they had to do it?"

Because Amazon has operational sites in Texas, the state claimed the retailer owned millions in back sales tax.

Sharp now hopes the change will mean more people will choose to shop local and keep their tax dollars within the state and community.

The big picture goes beyond Amazon.  The National Retail Federation is campaigning for a solution that is fair to all retailers. The industry is trying to raise awareness among lawmakers and consumers on how a pre-Internet loophole is hurting local communities and jobs.

As part of the deal, Amazon promised $200 million in capital investment in Texas in the next four years and 2,500 new jobs.

San Antonio economic development leaders have said they will make a case to Amazon to put at least some of that investment in the Alamo City.