In many online transactions, the buyers aren’t charged state sales tax. In some states, “the burden is on shoppers to track what they buy online, calculate the sales tax owed and then pay it. In reality, few consumers fess up — many do not even know such a requirement exists,” the Washington Post reports. A 2009 report from the University of Tennessee estimated that, “the national state and local sales tax loss on these transactions is expected to grow from $8.6 billion in 2010 […] to $11.4 billion in 2012.”
Now, the states are looking into how they can gather this tax revenue. “About a dozen, including Maryland and Virginia, this year have considered legislation that would force online retailers to collect the tax, though only a handful of bills have passed. Some states have even taken the unusual step of asking sites such as Amazon to provide lists of what residents have bought and how much they’ve spent, sparking concerns over consumer privacy,” the Post reports.
There is federal privacy protection for some items sold by Amazon. The Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988 (18 U.S.C. § 2710) prevents the “wrongful disclosure of video tape rental or sale records” of “prerecorded video cassette tapes or similar audio visual materials,” which includes DVDs. Read more »