Tuesday, July 22, 2014 · 7:21 a.m.
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Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill into law that will require companies, such as Amazon, to collect sales tax by 2014. (Photo: Staff)

Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill last week that will require Amazon to collect sales tax by 2014. 

At the end of the year, retailers said they weren't totally satisfied with the deal that lawmakers and Amazon created.

“It’s not a good thing for Tennessee retailers,” Mike Cohen, spokesman for the Alliance for Main Street Fairness, said in October. “It’s too long a period before Amazon begins to pay.”

The new law will ensure that Amazon will pay Tennessee sales tax if federal leaders don't approve a national online sales tax law by 2014.

After the lawmakers and Amazon leaders reached the agreement, Cohen said his organization's leaders are happy to have Amazon in Tennessee providing jobs, he said.

But he wants a “level playing field.”

He said that the timeline—Amazon agreed to start collecting sales tax on Jan. 1, 2014—gives Amazon three holiday seasons, which are “huge” for retailers.

It’s a large disadvantage for brick-and-mortar retailers who must collect sales tax, Cohen said.

“There’s nothing wrong with any retailer having an advantage if there is something they develop and it’s smart business,” he said. “The issue is the government shouldn’t be giving the advantage.”

Last year, California leaders reached a similar agreement with Amazon, but the online retailer will only exist for about one year before collecting tax.

Some Tennessee retailers wanted a deal more like the one in California, leaders said.

Last month Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., spoke to the United States Senate about a similar measure called the Marketplace Fairness Act, which he said will “close a 20-year loophole that distorts the marketplace.”

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