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Amazon to start collecting sales tax from North Carolina customers

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Amazon.com announced yesterday that they will begin collecting sales tax on North Carolina orders beginning Feb. 1, making it the 20th state in which the online retailer charges sales tax.

The Seattle-based company hasn't disclosed why it decided to make the change now, after fighting a protracted struggle against collecting sales tax. Amazon's resistance over the years has included jettisoning all of its N.C. "affiliate" marketers after the state passed a law designating such relationships as a "presence" in the state that would require including sales tax in purchases. Online retailers generally do not need to collect tax on purchases unless they have a store or some other physical presence in the state.

Amazon also fought vigorously against an unsuccessful 2010 bid by the N.C. Department of Revenue to get Amazon to turn over customers' names, addresses and purchases in an effort to force customers to pay sales taxes on the purchases.

Current N.C. law requires state residents to declare a "use tax" on their tax returns to pay for sales tax for their online purchases, but few taxpayers do this. The state sales tax rate ranges from 6.75 to 7.5 percent, depending on the county.

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