Georgia House to Require “Marketplace Facilitators” like Uber, Airbnb, and Ebay to Collect Sales Taxes
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2018 decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., a number of states have quickly moved to require out-of-state Internet-based sellers to collect and remit sales taxes on in-state purchases. For example, a new law took effect in Georgia on January 1, 2019, mandating retailers collect that state’s 4 percent sales tax for all online sales.
Now, Georgia legislators may go a step further and compel “marketplace facilitators” like eBay, Uber, and Airbnb to collect state sales tax on transactions completed by their users.
House Bill 276
On March 4, the Georgia House of Representatives passed House Bill 276 by a vote of 158-6. HB 276 proposes to expand the definition of what businesses qualify as “dealers” required to collect and remit sales tax. Specifically, the bill states anyone who “[a]cts as a marketplace facilitator to facilitate retail sales” in excess of $100,000 per year is now a dealer.
A “marketplace facilitator,” in turn, is any business that provides services designed to “facilitate a retail sale that is taxable” under Georgia law.
This includes but is not limited to the following:
- providing any physical or electronic infrastructure to to bring “purchasers and marketplace sellers together”;
- transmitting or communicating any offers (or acceptance of offers) between purchasers and sellers;
- processing and collecting payments from purchasers on behalf of sellers;
- taking orders or reservations on behalf of sellers; or
- providing advertising, marketing, or other promotional services.
To put this in practical terms, HB 276 would likely apply to the following situations:
- A resident of Macon, Georgia, purchases a computer on eBay from an out-of-state seller. HB 276 requires eBay to collect and remit the Georgia sales tax on this purchase.
- A group of friends in downtown Atlanta arrange for a ride via the Uber app. HB 276 requires Uber to collect and remit the sales tax on this sale.
- Out-of-state tourists arrange to stay in a private home in Augusta by making a reservation using Airbnb. Now Airbnb must then make sure to collect and remit the sales tax.
In other words, this Bill shifts the burden of dealing with sales taxes away from the individual sellers; many of whom may be too small to register with Georgia authorities; and places it on the companies that “facilitate” transactions with the purchasers.
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S.M. Oliva is a freelance blogger based in Virginia. He publishes the technology website cvilleFOSS.blog.