Amazon began capturing state sales tax for purchases in Missouri this year, a voluntary move that preceded the online retailer’s announcement in July that it would open a distribution center in Hazelwood. Without a physical presence in the state, many online retailers don’t charge a state tax to Missouri customers.
Instead, Missourians, in theory, are supposed to keep track of their purchases throughout the year and pay taxes on online purchases of more than $2,000. But according to Amy Blouin, executive director of the Missouri Budget project, hardly anyone does.
For years, the Missouri Budget Project, a progressive think tank, has advocated for capturing Missouri’s 4.225 percent sales tax in online purchases, saying the state is foregoing millions of dollars in revenue. Blouin said other neighboring states are doing so through what’s called the Streamlined Sales Tax, which allows retailers to automatically calculate, capture and remit the tax.
Blouin said there is growing support in Missouri because it would level the playing field between online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores.
Even if Missouri lawmakers passed the Streamlined Sales Tax, it would still be up to online retailers whether or not they want to participate.
Read more: St. Louis Public Radio