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

Ask Andy: Amazon.com Tennessee tax notice

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - By law, Amazon.com must add a Tennessee tax to all of its Tennessee-originating purchases as of January 1st.

It's part of a legislative accommodation for allowing Amazon to build a couple of distribution centers here. The tax is automatically added to your Amazon purchases from now on.

That's fine.

What's not fine is that some Tennesseans are receiving an Amazon e-mail notice claiming they owe 'use taxes' on old Amazon purchases.

The notice reads, "...you may owe use tax on purchases you made from Amazon...during the previous calendar year." It may even list those purchases, right down to the penny.

Here's the deal: don't do a thing. Ignore the e-mail.

I've reported on this several times in the last two years, ever since the Tennessee General Assembly mandated Amazon.com issue this notice in 2012 and 2013 in advance of the tax being applied in 2014 (for my coverage, please click here).

The taxes being applied to past Amazon.com purchases are voluntary taxes.

Tennessee's revenue department's official statement is, "Taxpayers in Tennessee are asked to voluntarily comply with statutory requirements for filing and remitting the proper payments. Taxpayers who file and pay timely avoid potential enforced collection action." 

But the facts are right in the e-mail itself, straight from the mouth of Amazon.com. It mentions something about its Tennessee customers' purchase information.

It says, "...Amazon.com LLC does not report this information directly to the state of Tennessee." 

Billy Trout, former spokesperson and still employed with the revenue department, has gone a step further, saying, "Amazon isn't required to provide a database or purchase histories to our department, so we do not have this information." 

There you have it:  Tennessee cannot track your past Amazon.com purchases. They are the company's proprietary data.

That means Tennessee cannot audit you or force you to retroactively pay taxes on past Amazon.com purchases. Period

You should only pay taxes on current Amazon.com purchases. That tax is automatic.

That e-mail about previous Amazon.com purchases should be 'automatically' deleted.

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