This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Early 2017 sales data suggest that despite slightly higher checkout costs, Utahns will add more than a half-billion dollars' worth of merchandise to their Amazon carts.
The Utah Tax Commission recorded $195 million in taxable sales from "nonstore retailers" between Jan. 1 when the online retailing behemoth started collecting Utah sales tax and the end of February.
That's up $107 million compared to the same period in 2016, or about a 122 percent increase.
A proportionate bump to 2016's total nonstore retailer sales would come to $691 million. The state's portion of resulting sales taxes would equal $32 million, with another $14 million or so doled out to counties and municipalities.
It's unclear just how much of that new revenue would be due to the Amazon agreement. The tax commission says it has recently reached compliance agreements with other retailers that lack a physical presence in the state. But Amazon owns an enormous share of the online retail market 43 percent, according to a February analysis from Slice Intelligence.
The governor's office has estimated the annual taxes owed by online retailers at $200 million but has refused to publicly guess at Amazon's portion and declined to project those revenues in its $16 billion budget.
The budget proposed Tuesday by Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski anticipates an $800,000 increase in internet sales-tax revenues from six additional months of Amazon sales tax collection during fiscal year 2018.
Utah's sales-tax rates vary from a minimum of 5.95 percent to a high of about 8.5 percent in communities with additional resort taxes, like Park City and Moab.
States recently challenged a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says they can't force a business to collect sales taxes unless that business maintains a physical presence in the state.
Utah's law puts the onus on residents to report their online purchases on income-tax returns, though few do so.
Details of its agreement with Amazon remain unknown, though the state has said Amazon keeps 1.31 percent of the sales tax it generates, a standard handling fee for large in-state retailers.
When the state Records Committee ordered the tax commission to release its Amazon contract to the conservative Libertas Institute in April, it ruled to protect related documents that spelled out terms of the arrangement.