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Patriot-News: Corbett Administration to Press Online Retailers to Collect Sales Tax

After initially deciding against mounting a concerted effort to collect sales taxes on purchases from online-only retailers like Amazon.com, Governor Tom Corbett is preparing to implement strategies to ensure more comprehensive collection of such fees, the Patriot-News’ Jan Murphy reported on Friday.

She writes: “The Corbett administration is looking at ways to level the playing field between Internet and brick-and-mortar retailers, said Elizabeth Brassell, a state Department of Revenue spokeswoman.”

“California and Tennessee have recently reached agreements with online retail giant Amazon to collect sales tax on purchases by 2013.”

“Amazon has long resisted calls from states to collect the sales tax, but its recent agreements have other states looking to strike similar deals to generate badly-needed tax revenue.”

The administration’s shift comes weeks after online retail giant Amazon.com garnered national scrutiny following a Morning Call piece detailing the harsh working conditions at its Lehigh Valley warehouse.  

Murphy notes that Carnegie-Mellon economist Robert Strauss has calculated that Pennsylvania could raise between $240 million and $388 million by requiring online retailers to collect the sales tax on purchases made by Keystone State residents.

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