Alabama's online tax impact holiday shopping

Americans spent 850 billion dollars this holiday shopping season, online and in stores! We wanted to know if new sales tax regulations had any impact here locally.

Posted: Dec 26, 2018 5:34 PM
Updated: Dec 26, 2018 6:42 PM

Shoppers and store owners we talked to Wednesday had mixed opinions on the first holiday spending season with a new online sales tax rule. Preston Guthrie is an online shopper who says when he first heard Alabama would start collecting sales tax for online purchases, he was annoyed.

"I was frustrated, but has it stopped me from shopping online? No," said Guthrie.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled states could start collecting sales tax, even if sites didn't have a "brick and mortar" presence in that state.

"That levels the playing field as they say," Lewter.

Donald Lewter owns a business that's been in Huntsville for almost a hundred years. He says they've managed to keep up with the shift, to online shopping.

"We compete generally all the way around," Lewter.

He says this year they made more sales than last year's holiday season.

"Our sales have been up too, so things are good," said Lewter.

He's glad this season's online and in person shopping had the same sales tax playing field.

"Its not fair to let them have a 9 percent advantage," said Lewter.

A report from Mastercard, which keeps track of holiday spending shows an increase of 5.1 percent this year overall, online and in person, and online sales alone increased by 19 percent. Shoppers have their own theories about why online buying is so popular.

"Sometimes 2 day shipping is a lot more convenient than getting out and about," said Guthrie.

Most avid online shoppers told me today having to pay sales tax didn't make a difference to their holiday shopping. As for that 850-billion dollars spent that's just an estimate. The numbers could actually go up!

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