EVERYBODY'S BUSINESS: Amazon now charging state sales taxes

Feb. 02, 2014 @ 05:03 AM

For people in North Carolina, the online retailer Amazon has two messages: You have to pay taxes now, but there's also possibly a chance for a job with the company.

The retailer started charging sales tax on items Saturday and has also announced vague plans to invest in North Carolina. Some have speculated that might mean a warehouse or data center is going to be built somewhere in the state. The company already employs more than 110,000 people worldwide.

The tax news might be unwelcome for folks who do lots of shopping online, but it's a victory for both the state and for owners of businesses with a physical location in the state, who have often complained that Amazon's prior lack of sales taxes for local shoppers gave the online retailer an unfair advantage over brick-and-mortar stores.

The state will gain an estimated $20 to $30 million in tax revenue from the change, and local governments could gain an additional $10 to $13 million, according to a government economist. The state budget as a whole is about $10 billion.

In other news...

*The Fearrington House Inn just keeps raking in the awards. Just days after it was named one of just a handful of five-diamond hotels and restaurants in North Carolina by AAA, the luxurious destination between Pittsboro and Chapel Hill was named by U.S. News and World Report as the best hotel in North Carolina, the 51st best hotel in America, and the eighth best Relais and Chateaux style hotel in a list that included resorts from North America, Central America and the Carribean. If you're looking for a romantic Valentine's Day experience, rooms were still available as of Saturday afternoon for Feb. 14, starting at $325, and Feb. 15 starting at $545. Rooms for most other nights start at $260.

* For the all of you who still mail letters frequently but never stocked up on Forever stamps, put aside some extra change. Stamp prices just went up 3 cents, to 49 cents apiece. The Postal Service will likely be raising prices again in the future; it lost $5 billion last year.

* Taylor Automotive, at 1007 Hawkins Ave., is having a ribbon cutting at 8 a.m. Friday to celebrate new ownership and the opening of a new vehicle charging station. There will also be several $50 gift cards given out.

* It's illegal for businesses to raise their prices too high during an emergency situation such as the winter weather we've been experiencing lately. If you suspect a business of price gouging, report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or file an online complaint at www.ncdoj.gov.

* Business fluctuations: In the past week, four new corporations formed in Lee County — Charles Cleaning, JCD Pressure Washing, Mr. Hot Dog and Small Hands-Big Future Childcare — and one corporation, Rocket Boosters Club, dissolved but is now listed as being active once again.

Have business news? Contact Will Doran at wdoran@sanfordherald.com or (919) 718-1217.