Report: No revenue spike for Idaho so far from Amazon deal

Jun 13th, 2017 | By | Category: Regional News

By Kimberlee Kruesi /Associated Press

amazon_logoBOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho tax revenues didn’t spike during the first month of collecting online sales tax on internet purchases from Amazon, according to the most recent revenue forecast report.

Earlier this year, the giant e-commerce company announced it had struck a deal with the Idaho State Tax Commission to begin collecting sales tax from Amazon shoppers in Idaho. This prompted several state lawmakers to estimate the deal could result in a big revenue boost and lead to possible tax cuts.

However, the Division of Financial Management’s latest report found that sales tax receipts came in only .8 percent higher than what economists originally projected for May — or around $842,000 more. Economists finalized the projections for fiscal year 2017 before the Amazon deal was announced.

Jani Revier, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s budget director, says it’s still too early to determine if Amazon sales tax revenue will help funnel significantly more money to Idaho.

Due to Idaho’s privacy laws, the tax commission is banned from sharing how much sales tax revenue comes from Amazon’s online sales.

“It will probably take a full year of Amazon receipts before our economists can make any sort of conclusive forecast,” Revier said. “Amazon revenue estimates have ranged from $15 million to $30 million a year. If you break that down by each month, that’s really only around $2 million and that small of an amount is hard to pinpoint out of our total sales tax revenue.”

In total, Idaho’s tax revenues — which includes corporate and individual taxes along with sales tax receipts — came in $15.2 million ahead of May forecasts — jumping 12.2 percent higher than last May’s revenues. The state is currently 2.1 percent above forecasts.

Idaho shoppers have always owed state sales taxes on purchases they made online, but the rule has been widely ignored because it requires consumers to self-report and pay the taxes on their own.

Idaho and other states have spent years examining ways to capture the lost tax dollars, but their options are limited when the retailers are not based in the state. The Amazon agreement was seen as a way to begin exploring similar deals with other major online companies.

A 1992 Supreme Court decision said retailers must have a physical presence in a state before officials can make them collect sales tax.

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