Utah quietly inks deals with more online retailers to collect sales tax

Posted at 3:11 PM, May 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-04 20:14:17-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- If you do a lot of online shopping, you may find yourself shelling out a little extra money for sales tax.

The Utah Tax Commission has been quietly inking deals with more online retailers to start collecting sales tax for purchases. It's taxes that people should be paying, but are not because many websites still aren't collecting that tax.

The state has estimated it loses as much as $200 million a year to uncollected sales tax from online purchases. However, the Utah State Legislature has failed to pass any bills to require online retailers to collect the tax. Any time the bill is brought up, it's met with public pushback.

FOX 13 requested a list of online retailers that are collecting the tax. The commission said it does not keep a specific list of online companies, but agreed to answer "yes" or "no" on whether web-based companies have reached agreements with the state to collect taxes.

Terms of the agreements between the state and online retailers were not disclosed.

Internet giant Amazon began collecting sales tax for online purchases last year. Since then, many other companies have signed agreements. Some companies in the same industry are on different sides. For example, the Utah Tax Commission said Lyft has an agreement to collect sales tax, while Uber does not.

Streaming services Spotify and Netflix collect taxes, according to the commission (a tax on streaming media was brought up last year). The mega-commerce site Alibaba, which is big outside the United States, also has a deal with Utah to collect sales tax.

Utah Tax Commission spokesman Charlie Roberts said all these agreements chip away at that $200 million in lost revenue.

"It's starting to make more than a dent, really," he told FOX 13.

Billy Hesterman, the vice-president of the watchdog group Utah Taxpayer's Association, said the state shouldn't be forcing companies to collect that tax.

"We'd like to see Congress do something to bring parity to all the retailers," he said. "To make sure just because you have brick-and-mortar, whether you're doing online, they're all doing the same thing."

Congress has yet to enact any such legislation, leading to problems between states. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently deliberating a case out of South Dakota on sales tax for online purchases.

Here's some of the companies that do or do not collect sales tax, according to the Utah Tax Commission:

Amazon    yes
AirBnB    yes
Etsy    no
Zappos    yes
Gilt    no
SaksOffFifth    no
eBay    yes
Facebook    yes    yes
Alibaba    yes
Flipkart    no
Netflix    yes
StubHub    yes
Uber    no
Lyft    yes
Expedia    no
Booking    no    no
Groupon    yes
Spotify    yes
Overstock    yes
NeimanMarcus    no    yes    no    no
QVC    yes    no