End Amazon’s tax advantage

Bill would level the playing field for brick-and-mortar stores

There’s again a bill in the Legislature, AB 153, by Assembly-woman Nancy Skinner, a Berkeley Democrat, that would close one of the largest loopholes in state tax law.

You may not know this, but Internet sales are taxed. The problem is that customers are expected to keep track of their purchases and pay the sales tax on them when they file their state and federal income taxes. Know anyone who does that? We didn’t think so.

It’s a good deal for Internet retail giants like Amazon and Overstock, which can undercut brick-and-mortar companies that must add at least 8.25 percent to the cost of items. Skinner’s bill would require Internet retailers that have any physical presence in the state to collect the taxes.

The current system is unfair to businesses that have stores in the state, hire local workers and pay local property taxes but are undersold by retail giants such as Amazon. It also deprives the state of an estimated $150 million, money that could be used to hire teachers and police officers. It’s time to close the loophole.