Clow takes another run at Internet sales taxes

It’s one of those perennial issues — prompting some ribbing in committee Friday.

But Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, is taking another run at the Internet sales taxes.

For years, some lawmakers and policymakers have pointed to Internet sales — and the growing e-commerce sector — as an untapped source of revenue for K-12 and other state programs.

Retailers with a brick-and-mortar presence already collect sales taxes on Internet purchases. Technically, Idahoans are supposed to pay a “use tax” on other Internet purchases, but the state has no way to track these transactions, leaving the customer to pay on the honor system.

Clow’s bill does not attempt to calculate the impact on Idaho’s bottom line. Instead, he would like the state to track revenue through the 2017-18 budget year which begins July 1, and then factor Internet sales tax revenue into future budgets.

That lack of detail troubled Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, an economist by profession. “It could be $5, it could be $40 million.”

Ultimately, the House Revenue and Taxation Committee voted to introduce Clow’s bill on a unanimous voice vote. That sets the stage for a full hearing at a later date.

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