Texas: Amazon Lied To Us, Owes Us Millions in State Taxes

A Texas state comptroller suggests that Amazon.com may have lied about not having a distribution centre in the state–thereby dodging millions in Texas taxes. The Dallas Morning News:

The Texas Comptroller’s Office is investigating whether the Internet retail behemoth, with sales last year of $14.8 billion, owes Texas possibly millions of dollars in uncollected sales taxes on purchases made by its customers in the state.

Seattle-based Amazon.com has been operating a distribution centre in Irving since 2006, giving it a “physical presence” in Texas, a longstanding litmus test for when sales taxes must be collected by an online or mail-order company…

The state’s tax-collecting agency didn’t know Amazon.com was operating a facility here until this week when The Dallas Morning News called to ask why the online powerhouse wasn’t charging Texas customers sales taxes, said Robin Corrigan, the comptroller’s team leader for sales tax policy….

Over numerous meetings, Ms. Corrigan said, Amazon officials spoke about their compliance in states where they have a distribution centre, but they never included Texas in that group. “In conversations with Amazon, they told me they don’t have a distribution centre in Texas,” Ms. Corrigan said.

“If it’s determined that they are subject to sales taxes, then they can be held liable for taxes, penalties and interest,” she said. The state is allowed to seek up to four years’ worth of back taxes, she said. R.J. DeSilva, a spokesman for the comptroller, said the state has no idea the amount of taxes that Amazon.com may owe and he wasn’t sure how long the enforcement section’s investigation will take. “It will be thorough,” he said.

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