CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Buying books, movies and music online will soon be 6 percent more expensive in West Virginia.
State residents buying merchandise from Amazon.com will have to pay state sales tax for the first time as the company changes its policies to comply with a new West Virginia law.
An Amazon spokesman confirmed that, on Oct. 1, the company will start collecting West Virginia's 6 percent sales tax on purchases shipped to the Mountain State.
The change stems from a law passed by the Legislature in April to collect more revenue from out-of-state companies like Amazon that do business here.
The law, passed at the behest of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, applies the state's sales tax to out-of-state retailers that have "an office, distribution house, sales house, warehouse or other place of business in West Virginia." Amazon recently opened a 70,000-square-foot service center in Huntington that employs about 200 people.
A 2009 study by economists at the University of Tennessee estimated that, in 2012, federal, state and local governments would miss out on about $12 billion in revenue by not taxing online sales. The same study estimated that West Virginia was missing out on about $50 million in revenue by not taxing Internet retailers.
The fiscal note attached to the new West Virginia law estimates that, by taxing only online retailers with an in-state presence, it will increase state revenue by $7 million to 10 million per year.
The law passed the state Senate unanimously. It passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 77-19, with exclusively Republican opposition.