Traditional brick-and-mortar businesses have long argued that Internet retailers enjoy a competitive advantage because they are not required to collect sales taxes in many of the states in which they sell products.
A 1992 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court prohibited states from collecting sales taxes from businesses that do not have a physical presence within that state.
Congress is currently considering a bill that would allow states to tax online purchases regardless of where the seller is located, but the legislation is stalled and its prospects are uncertain.
West Virginia is the most recent of a number of states that have passed legislation allowing them to tax online purchases if the seller has a physical presence. The West Virginia law requires those online retailers to collect sales tax beginning Jan. 1, 2014.
This past spring, Indiana and Georgia passed similar laws, and Amazon agreed to collect sales tax on purchases in Connecticut after a lengthy legal dispute.
After years of battling over sales taxes, Amazon now collects taxes or has agreed to collect them on purchases made in at least 13 states. In the past, Amazon has gone so far as to close warehouses and distribution centers over sales tax disputes. In 2011, it closed a distribution center in Dallas and canceled plans to expand its operations there after Texas' comptroller demanded hundreds of millions of dollars in uncollected sales tax.
Amazon has said it now supports the national bill on taxing online purchases, preferring it to the hodge-podge of conflicting state laws.
Reach David Gutman at david.gut...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.