PALO ALTO, Calif., Wed Feb 20, 2013 — Sales tax from Internet commerce, a prize pursued for years by U.S. state governments, is starting to arrive in California and a few other states, providing millions of dollars in new revenue, though not as much as a benchmark study once forecast.
After fighting hard to get e-tailers such as Amazon.com Inc. to start charging sales tax, and eventually passing a law requiring collection, the California Board of Equalization reported last week it took in $96.4 million in September-December 2012, its first full quarter of collections.
Coinciding with the holiday shopping season, that result put the state well on its way to meeting its forecast budget of $107 million in new e-taxes for the fiscal year that began July 1, 2012, as set by the California Department of Finance.
But that revenue falls far short of ambitious expectations set in 2009 by a University of Tennessee study that greatly influenced the online sales tax debate nationwide.
The study estimated that California, if it did not act to collect more online sales tax, would miss out on as much as $1.9 billion in 2012 revenue. Nationwide, it estimated, states would fail to collect $11.4 billion in 2012.