Dear Governor, make Amazon pay sales taxes

An open letter to the governor:

Dear Gov. Haslam, As a consumer I appreciate not paying sales taxes on purchases made through But as a Tennessee resident, I don't appreciate it one bit.

Tennessee depends on sales tax revenue for schools, roads, law enforcement and all the other vital public services that state government provides.

Amazon shoppers, including myself, should pay their fair share. No more, no less.

If that means I pay $2 or $50 more for an Amazon purchase, so be it.

Unfortunately, you don't seem inclined to collect sales taxes from Amazon. It's an understandable position. Amazon has announced plans to build two new distribution centers in southeast Tennessee and create hundreds of new jobs. You don't want to make them mad.

Understandable, but shortsighted. Letting Internet companies get away with not charging state sales tax, leaves a lot of potential state revenue on the table. In times like these, can we afford to do that?

I don't think so. In fact, you should direct state tax collectors to make every effort to collect sales taxes from Amazon and all other online retailer that do business here.

In the early days of Internet commerce it made sense to encourage Web sales by overlooking sales taxes. But the Internet is all grown up now. Online stores should charge sales tax, just  like their brick and mortar competitors.

Best regards,



This is UNFAIR AND WRONG! Amazon is a bully.

If companies do business with Tennessee residents they should follow the rules for all business in Tennessee and charge a tax. That is very simple.

This backroom deal to allow Amazon to not pay sales tax is unprecidented and wrong. It would hurt the state a lot more than it would help it. How? By giving in state businesses a big competitor with a huge advantage. It just makes no sense.

Like it or not, Sales Tax is how Tennessee is funded. Our roads, police, fire, garbage and recycling, parks, building and food codes enforcement... you name it. It's our main source of income for all the things we demand of our state government. If you purchase something in Tennessee, you pay the Sales Tax. And if you do business in Tennessee, you collect that tax. My business does. Every business should. That's how our law is written. Not a very smart way to tax, but what are you gonna do? Until we get smarter legislators, that's what we've got.

Every sale to a Tennessean SHOULD be taxed, even internet sales. Internet retailers are killing Tennessee businesses, because their products are about 9.25% less expensive to buy. And they're cheaper because the internet businesses who don't collect Sales Tax in Tennessee are cheaters. They're cheating our businesses, they're cheating our citizens. They're making Tennessee a worse place to live every day.

Amazon should collect and remit Sales Taxes on sales to Tennesseans. That's how our weird tax system is designed. That's our law. They should be made to comply, just like every Tennessee business.

902bAf I really enjoy the article.Thanks Again. Cool.

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About this blog

    Rant$ and Rave$ will comment on the good, bad and sometimes bizarre business news in East Tennessee and around the country. Rant$ and Raves is written by News Sentinel business reporter Roger Harris, who can be reached via email or (865) 342-6342.

    Illustration of Roger Harris by Don Wood/News Sentinel

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