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How Internet sales tax law would affect Montana

By Lauren Maschmedt, KTVM Anchor, lmaschmedt@ktvm.com
Published On: May 06 2013 06:09:13 PM MDT
Updated On: May 06 2013 06:59:13 PM MDT
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BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Late Monday afternoon, the Senate passed a measure requiring businesses to charge sales tax over the internet. Right now, many online retailers don't have to.

Brick and mortar stores around the country are pushing for the change, saying the way the law is now gives online retailers an unfair advantage. But some internet retailers worry about the complexities of determining the correct sales tax for multiple states, counties and cities.

Montana consumers wouldn't be affected, but retailers could be. Under the law, retailers with more than $1 million in online sales a year would have to charge sales tax.

We called several high-profile businesses in the area. It turns out, many already charge a sales tax to out-of-state-customers online.

They said it's company policy to charge -- so for a customer from Washington state, they apply Washington taxes.

But not everyone is on board. One business we spoke with told me it would be an unnecessary burden to have to report back to each state.

NBC Montana talked with folks in downtown Bozeman who have lived in states with sales taxes.

Some said it's nice to have that price break when shopping online. "I think the government tries to tax everything nowadays, and as far as buying online I think that's one of the added benefits- is that you don't have to pay taxes,"  said Bozeman resident Andrew Schroeder.

Brandon Rhone, who used to live in New York and pay sales tax, said if you already pay sales taxes in person, it should carry over to the computer.

"I definitely think if people are already living out-of-state, are already paying taxes they should just continue to pay taxes on it," he said.

If the bill becomes law, it could lead to billions in new tax revenue for states.

The Senate passed the measure 69-to-27. Now it's on to the House, where it faces opposition from some lawmakers who see it as a tax hike.