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Amazon Reminds Tennessee Shoppers To Pay Use Tax

  • Jan 31, 2013 | Gail Cole

 Amazon Reminds Tennessee Shoppers to Pay Use Tax.

For the second year in a row, Amazon has sent a friendly email reminder to its customers in Tennessee, reminding them to pay Tennessee state and local sales taxes on their purchases.

The email begins with, "Thank you for being a loyal customer of Amazon.com LLC." It then continues with "the state of Tennessee requires us to provide the following notice to you:

"You may owe use tax on purchases you made from Amazon.com LLC during the previous calendar year. The amount of tax you may owe is based on the total sales price of the items you purchased during the calendar year unless an exemption exists under state law or you have already paid the tax.

A sale is not exempt under state law because it is made through the Internet."

Each customer is told the total sales price of purchases that were shipped to them in 2012, and are advised to include that amount on their Tennessee use tax return, "unless you have already paid the tax." Each email also includes a "breakdown of purchases from the various [sales] channels" that Amazon uses.

The email concludes with this:

"In addition, the state of Tennessee requires us to provide you with the following link that you can use to get more information and pay any taxes due: Use tax page: https://apps.tn.gov/usetax."

Tennessee use tax is not new. It's been required on tax-free out-of-state purchases since 1947, the same year the state sales tax was created. Nonetheless, reaction to the letter has been mixed:

  • Nathan Frazier, aChattanooga customer, said "I had no clued [about the taxes] until I received the email."
  • Natalie Green said she "would prefer to pay small lump sums of use tax instead of a bigger lump sum."
  • Stephen Pollard from East Ridge isn't happy about the tax, especially since he's been shopping at Amazon for nearly 10 years without paying it.
  • Zach Monroe "thinks consumers are taxed enough" but "understands that local and state economies lose if online retailers don't collect tax."

Use tax in Tennessee can be paid monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually, according to Tennessee Department of Revenue spokesman Billy Trout. "Those who don't [pay] may face financial penalty." Penalties are "computed at a rate of 5 percent per month … from the due date until the taxes are paid. The maximum penalty is 25 percent of the tax amount due, and the minimum penalty is $15."

Amazon also has a Tennessee Use Tax Notification page on its website.

Amazon.com will begin collecting sales tax in Tennessee in January 2014.

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photo credit: alles-schlumpf via photopin cc

Sales tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.