Local booksellers battle online company

Local booksellers battle online company (Image 1)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Some local booksellers are wanting an Internet book seller to collect sales taxes like regular businesses throughout the state of Tennessee.

Joel Tomlin is the owner of Landmark Booksellers in Franklin. The bookstore sells rare, out-of-print books, as well as new releases.

Tomlin said not requiring Web sites like Amazon.com to charge Tennesseans sales tax on items purchased on the Web puts his business and others at a disadvantage.

Currently, Tennesseans ordering from Amazon do not have to pay sales taxes for purchases because the company does not have a physical presence in the state, though the company does plan to open a distribution hub in Chattanooga and Bradley County by the end of the year.

The hub is expected to create 1,400 new jobs for the area.

The online company argues its facilities in Tennessee will not be retail locations where customers can make purchases; therefore those ordering from the site should still not be charged sales tax.

“Without a doubt, [it] negatively effects or puts us at a disadvantage by Amazon not having to pay that tax,” Tomlin said. “Customers notice when they don't have to pay 9.25% and in the state of Tennessee they do not have to collect sales tax.”

The Franklin bookstore owner and others said that he wants to make sure the Web site charges sales tax on items when selling to Tennesseans.

The Alliance for Main Street Fairness is working in Tennessee and California to make the online company pay up.

Tomlin said book sellers already face a tough industry when it comes to competition from electronic books and the Internet, so any competitive edge they can have find can make a huge difference.

“Your local merchant, whether it's a bookstore or not contributes to the community and the local tax base,” he said.

The Alliance for Main Street Fairness is asking Tennesseans to write your legislators and Governor Bill Haslam to ask them to make Amazon.com charge customers sales tax. 

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