TEXAS – $260 million in Unremitted Sales Taxes “Recaptured”

Reprint from Tarrant Business, Star Telegram Blog

Susan Combs, the Texas Comptroller, dropped by the Star-Telegram this morning to chew things over.

She says she expects $1.1 billion – more than expected – to be transferred into the state's Rainy Day Fund this fall, due to the strength of oil and gas. “Oil and gas has been good,” she said.

Combs said she's feeling “real perky” about something else.

Using a new audit system approved by the Legislature in 2007, the Comptroller has been on the hunt for unremitted sales taxes from vendors responsible for collecting them and passing them on to the state.

The Comptroller now compares monthly alcohol and tobacco data to sales tax revenue to find retailers that aren't coughing up the sales tax. The result: the Comptroller has “recaptured” $260 million in unremitted taxes, Combs said. One vendor in Amarillo owed $1 million, she said.

When vendors are approached with this info and a bill from the Comptroller, “generally, they pay up pretty quick,” Combs said.

Combs also said she's still in litigation against Amazon.com, alleging the company owes the state $269 million in sales tax. Amazon says it doesn't owe the money because it doesn't have a “storefront” in the state, even though it has other brick-and-mortar operations.

Amazon has threatened to close its operations in the state and leave, but, “they're still here,” Combs said.