The Arizona Department of Revenue recently announced that it has come to a settlement with Amazon over $53 million in unpaid sales taxes the state, and that part of that settlement requires Amazon to begin collecting sales taxes on all Arizona transactions beginning Feb. 1, 2013.
I very pleased to tell you that I was wrong. I predicted that Arizona would be the 50th state to get on board the e-fairness issue of online retailers collecting sales taxes. In fact, Arizona is the 15th state to actually do so, with many more still working on it.
This has enormous repercussions way beyond one little bookstore in Sedona. It positively impacts every retail business in Arizona by leveling the business playing field between online retailers and brick-and-mortar businesses. In case you didn't know, book sales represent less than 50 percent of Amazon's annual sales, with electronics, clothing and other consumer items representing the majority of its revenues.
And, even though Amazon's business model is to discount most of its products, it no longer will be in the consumers' best financial interest to always buy from Amazon and/or other online retailers.
With respect to books, the sales tax and shipping charges will make most trade paperback books more expensive to buy on Amazon than at your local bookstore.
But even more importantly, the state of Arizona will now see a flow of hundreds of millions of dollars of new revenue that will ultimately provide essential services to the residents of our state. That is the real bottom line.
Thank you to the Arizona Department of Revenue for aggressively pursuing this outcome.
Thank you to the Arizona Retailers Association and the American Booksellers Association for their tireless advocacy of e-fairness. And, thank you to Governor Jan Brewer for not getting in the way.
Joe Neri is the co-owner of The Well Red Coyote bookstore in Sedona. He can be contacted at (928) 282-2284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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