New tax amnesty program targets online shoppers

December 13, 2010

Emily Wilensky

State lawmakers want online shoppers to start paying taxes. Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

The Illinois General Assembly wants shoppers to know they are not exempt from paying Illinois sales tax when they shop online. Starting Jan. 1 a new amnesty program will allow customers to pay sales taxes on past online purchases without penalty.

Mike Clemons is a spokesman for the Department of Revenue. He said the program is one way to educate customers but it falls short of necessary reform.
“The only way to run an efficient and effective system is for a federal law change that says, ‘ and other internet online retailers: When you sell to a customer in Illinois you have to charge tax, collect it from the customer and send it to the Department of Revenue,” he said.
Clemons said those who take advantage of the amnesty will avoid penalties of 20 percent, plus interest on taxes owed. Research by the Illinois Department of Revenue shows losses of up to $150 million a year in revenue from internet commerce.
The amnesty program is part of a bill signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn. The amnesty applies to online purchases made between 2004 and 2010.