KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The new year brings a change for Amazon shoppers in Tennessee. The online retailer will begin collecting state sales tax. It's a move that's been years in the making.
"I got new boots to hit the hiking trail with, I got a trail backpack," said Angie Vicars, showing off her recent purchases from the website.
"I was looking at the deals they have and the stuff I wanted, and thinking this has to be bought by the end of the year," Vicars explained.
Businesses like Union Ave. Books pushed hard for the change. They worried that allowing Amazon to not charge a sales tax would eventually wipe out small independent stores.
"What we would love is when you're in Knoxville, it feels like you are in Knoxville, Tennessee. You have your local bookshop, your local restaurant, your local gift shop," explained Cathy Henschen, who works at the store.
"It's very easy to go home and stay on your computer and buy a book from Amazon. Why should we make it any easier?" Henschen added.
UT Economist Dr. Bill Fox says the move is about leveling out the playing field. It also translates to more money for the state.
"I think a minimal estimate is $15 million a year on the low end. This is real money in the budget starting Jan. 1," Dr. Fox said.
"There's a place for Amazon to co-exist with local businesses; it's not a good world when Amazon takes over," Henschen said.
Sales tax or not, loyal Amazon customers plan to keep coming back.
"Am I going to keep shopping from Amazon after this? Yes. Taking advantage of tax free is a no brainer to me," Vicars said.
Amazon already collects sales tax from 16 other states, including Georgia.
Other online retailers without a physical presence in the state still aren't required to collect Tennessee sales tax.