Ask Andy UPDATE: Amazon.com tax notice - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Ask Andy UPDATE: Amazon.com tax notice

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC TV) - I've said it once, and I'll say it again:  don't pay it.

At least not this year.

I'm talking about the e-mail several Tennesseans have received -- for the second time in less than a year -- from Amazon.com. It lists the "total sales" of everything you bought from the e-tailer in the last year, along with an alert that "you may owe use tax" to the state of Tennessee on those purchases.

Trust me. Tennessee isn't forcing collections of the tax. Not this year.

Last April, I first reported this issue on Ask Andy. I explained that Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed legislation making Amazon.com send out those notices. It was basically a political accommodation to calm down special interests who were ticked off that Amazon.com could set up distribution centers here, but not have to collect sales taxes on its Tennessee web sales until 2014 (for that Ask Andy report, please click here).

So our state government essentially forced Amazon.com to remind all Tennesseans that we technically have an ancient "consumer use tax" on the books, taxing items that are brought into the state for sale.

But here's what I know:  neither Amazon.com nor the state of Tennessee has any way to force the collection of that tax from current Amazon.com purchases.

"Amazon isn't required to provide a database or purchase histories to our department, so we do not have this information," said Tennessee Department of Revenue spokesperson Billy Trout. "Tennesseans are largely voluntarily compliant with our state's tax laws."

Amazon.com is not required by law to collect this "use tax" on Tennessee customers until Jan. 1, 2014.

That means the only way Tennessee can collect this tax from Amazon.com customers' current and former purchases is if the customers themselves voluntarily pay it.

Amazon.com's media department ignored two requests for comment. I don't blame them.

No one's going to audit Amazon.com's Tennessee customers. No state revenue agent is going to knock on your door, demanding a use tax on that DVD you bought or that e-book you uploaded to your Kindle.

If you get one of those e-mails, ignore it and do nothing. Amazon.com will roll the use tax into Tennessee web sales the first day of 2014.

That's when Tennessee customers will pay that tax -- and not one day sooner.

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