Utah Legislature passes requirement for online sales tax

Utah Capitol | Photo courtesy of desertsolitaire via iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah lawmakers on Wednesday passed legislation forcing online companies to collect sales tax beginning in 2019, although much of the new revenue has already been earmarked for a tax break for manufacturers.

The vote in a special Legislative session came roughly one month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to allow states to demand that online shoppers pay sales tax.

Supporters called it leveling the playing field for businesses. “It’s simply collecting tax that has been and always been owed by the purchaser,” said Rep. Steve Eliason, a Republican who sponsored the bill in the state House.

Republican Gov. Gary Herbert supported the measure, his office said.

Utah already collects roughly $140 million in taxes under voluntary agreements with major online businesses such as Amazon and Airbnb. To incentivize those companies, the state has allowed them to keep up to 18 percent of collected sales taxes. That incentive will end once the law requiring companies to collect taxes takes effect in January.

Officials expect that an additional $60 million is up for grabs from companies not under the current tax umbrella.

However, about $55 million has already been earmarked for a tax break for manufacturers that lawmakers approved in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Supporters Wednesday called the tax break a boost to the state’s economy.

Opponents called it a giveaway to major corporations.

“When do we say enough to manufacturers, enough to EnergySolutions, enough to private little tax cut deals to people?” said Sen. Jim Dabakis, a Democrat. EnergySolutions, a company that manages radioactive waste, was granted a $1.7 million annual break in fees by the Legislature in February.

The requirement to collect sales tax will apply to companies that do at least 200 sales or $100,000 worth of sales in Utah in a year. It was modeled after the South Dakota law involved in the Supreme Court case, lawmakers said.

The Legislature also approved changes unveiled earlier this week by Herbert to a proposed shipping hub in Salt Lake City despite opposition from some local officials.

The changes shrink the size of the proposed trading hub, dedicate money for affordable housing and adjust its oversight structure.

A previous plan for the facility was approved by lawmakers earlier this year.

Critics including Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, who is a Democrat, have accused state lawmakers of steamrolling local concerns.

Members of the city council supported Wednesday’s changes and worked with Herbert before they were made public.

Supporters say they’ll continue to make changes to the facility’s plans as issues arise.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • Proud Rebel July 18, 2018 at 7:53 pm

    This STINKS! Talk about robbing Peter to pay Paul! Utah is looking more like Illinois all the time.

  • John July 18, 2018 at 7:59 pm

    As if they would have turned down the opportunity to pick our pockets ! Taxation without representation..I don’t think we got to vote on it..HMMMMMMMM..

    • comments July 18, 2018 at 11:32 pm

      Oh come on John. These people are part of your political party. You idiots are always talking about how they can do no wrong. “It’s the LIBRULS dunnit!”, remember?

      • LocalTourist July 19, 2018 at 9:21 am

        In case you forgot, the people who are forcing you to pay this are the ones you voted with the “R” next to their name…. remember that?

    • LocalTourist July 19, 2018 at 9:21 am

      C’mon, John. There’s already a sales tax on the books, and now you’re angered that your tax fraud loophole has been closed. For years, you’ve been expected to declare your online purchases on your state income tax form, and my bet is you havent been doing that.
      Time to pay the piper, pal.

      • John July 19, 2018 at 12:05 pm

        I’m not angered, and your’e a clueless imbecile.. nothing I can do about that! Moron!

      • John July 19, 2018 at 1:48 pm

        Suck it through a straw, mr sheeple…

  • jaltair July 18, 2018 at 10:34 pm

    I hope the bill number is posted soon so we might read the language. The article states, “The requirement to collect sales tax will apply to companies that do at least 200 sales or $100,000 worth of sales in Utah in a year.” That would mean yard sale type sales would be exempt if there wasn’t the $100,000 in sales.

    We knew this would be coming. All local small and large stores may be able to remain in business. I can see a practical side.

  • utahdiablo July 18, 2018 at 11:19 pm

    Ahh yes, the mighty Utah Greed Machine at it yet again…..too bad these “Reps” couldn’t pass the Stop driving with your cell phone in your hand and texting” bill put forth, that would save lives for sure, but the Greed Machine needs more $$$$

  • comments July 18, 2018 at 11:30 pm

    Got the money spent before it’s even in the bank. Anyone surprised? And it’s not gonna be spent on anything that benefits regular citizens. News flash to you right wing idiots: republican politicians are self-serving scum. They look out for the rich only. If you have to actually work for a living they don’t represent your interests.

    • KCM July 19, 2018 at 8:15 am

      News flash to you left wing idiots as well; you THINK your representatives serve you, but you drink their kool-aide and buy into their B.S. all the while they are doing the same thing; just behind your back where you can’t see it. I’m so sick of seeing your rude condescending remarks at the bottom of every article on this website. Someone should put an end to it.

      • LocalTourist July 19, 2018 at 9:23 am

        Dry your tears. YOU voted them into office….so much for the fiscal conservatives you thought they were. I’m a registered Republican that has been voting for person over party since Reagan was elected. Maybe you should consider the same, instead of blaming the neighbor who said “I told you so…”

      • comments July 19, 2018 at 10:56 am

        That’s what’s called a double standard, or the pot calling the kettle black. I see endless post by you nutters blaming DA LIBRULZ for everything, but when someone calls out you nutters on your own BS and brings your brain back to reality all you do is cry about how unfair it is. That’s the problem with you nutters is that you’re deluded and you’re also hypocrites. How is everyone supposed to find common ground when you people act like that? Repeat after me: “DA LIBRULZ DUNNIT!” DURRRRRR. DA LIBRULZ DUNNIT EVEN IF THEY DIDN’T DUNNIT! DURRRRR. haahhaha 😉

  • RadRabbit July 19, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    I knew they would eventually do this, does it suck yeah was it predictable yeah. I’m no fan of taxes at all and believe there are a lot of areas we can cut and actually lower taxes but people being shocked by this is a little surprising especially if you look at the Amazon tax deal they did last year.

    • John July 19, 2018 at 10:56 pm

      I know, the same clueless morons are doing all the grumbling.. Mostly the curmudgeon comments and there’s a new one we shall call low information tourist. I hope you enjoy laughing in their faces as much as I do!

  • markboro1 July 23, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    The real point, not being made, is the allocation of the $60 million. I think Democrats and Republicans alike wouldn’t mind that money going back to the people in the form of lower sales tax(currently 6.35% in St. George). Or how about using this to replace the proposed 33% increase in gas tax which hurts the poor more than the rich. Unfortunately, a majority of local citizens did not support my run for office which promised lower taxes and not playing favorites.

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