/ Modified jul 11, 2012 8:09 a.m.

Online Sales Tax Push Coming from Retailers

They will urge governor, Legislature to impose tax on Internet transactions

By The Associated Press

The Arizona Retailers Association is preparing to mount a public-relations campaign to gain support for requiring online retailers to collect state sales tax.

The Arizona Capitol Times reports that the aim of the association's campaign will be to increase pressure on legislators to force online retailers to collect sales tax.

Arizonans are already supposed to pay tax on online purchases but few do.

The issue is the association's top priority, although Executive Director Michelle Ahlmer says the group won't begin the campaign until after a task force appointed by Gov. Jan Brewer holds its first meeting later this month.

The task force is to consider various sales tax issues but those are expected to include collection of tax on online purchases.

The Legislature and the governor have discussed the issue, and legislation has been proposed, specifically aimed at requiring online retailer Amazon.com to collect sales tax.

Amazon contends it doesn't have to collect sales tax from Arizonans because it doesn't have a "physical presence," such as stores, in the state. The company has distribution facilities in the state, but Amazon says they don't count as stores because they are owned by a subsidiary.

The Arizona Senate in March soundly rejected a bill that would have classified Amazon as an in-state retailer for tax purposes because the subsidiary has facilities in Arizona.

In some other states, fulfillment centers have led to Amazon agreeing to begin collecting sales tax. A recently announced agreement calls for Amazon to collect tax on sales in New Jersey starting next summer, the same time the company plans to begin building two new centers that will be its first in that state.

The state has a $53 million sales tax assessment pending against Amazon, but state revenue officials have declined to comment on it, citing confidentiality laws.

Amazon representatives did not immediately respond to inquiries about the assessment. Amazon reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission have disclosed only the assessment's existence, not a resolution.

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