North Carolina offers e-commerce merchants sales tax deal

North Carolina’s Department of Revenue launched a program on April 23 to help e-commerce retailers with affiliate programs in the state “resolve issues of tax liability.”

The “Internet Transactions Resolutions Program,” a result of several months of dialogue between the state and e-commerce merchants, is available to “any e-commerce retailer that has operated an affiliate program at any time in the state of North Carolina,” said Beth Stevenson, director of public affairs for the North Carolina Department of Revenue.

Retailers that successfully complete the program will not be assessed tax penalties or interest prior to September 1. The state will also not try to obtain consumer information from retailers to collect tax liabilities prior to the same date. Tax penalties will not be waived for retailers who fail to participate in the program.

The state recently demanded in a federal lawsuit that provide the names and addresses of buyers for tax purposes. Numerous states, many of them cash-strapped as a result of the recession, are considering ways to tax out-of-state e-commerce purchases.

The state will contact “at least 350 retailers” for participation, according to Stevenson. Retailers that fit the eligibility criteria must register to participate by June 30.

E-commerce retail sales will jump 12.7% in 2010, according to a forecast released last month by eMarketer. This projected growth dovetails with a recent Census Bureau’s report showing that online sales grew by 14.6% during last year’s fourth quarter.

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