CARTHAGE, Tenn. - U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said today it may take four years before Congress enacts legislation letting states apply sales taxes to items over the Internet.
Corker said he realizes the issue of collecting sales taxes on Internet sales "is a problem" not only for state and local governments but for traditional retailers.
"I have a feeling that over the next three or four years it's something that will be resolved, I really do," Corker told reporters following an address to the Smith County Chamber of Commerce.
But Corker said he doesn't know if he will support legislation sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., that would let states compel Internet retailers to collect sales taxes when they do not have a physical presence in a state.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, who is grappling with a sales-tax collection controversy involving Amazon.com, has said he is "more than willing" to take a national role in pushing Congress to act.
But while Corker said he has talked with Haslam some about the issue, "he has not mentioned that he may be taking a leadership [role], but we both have a lot going on."
He said he was having dinner this evening with Haslam.
Amazon is building two distribution centers in Hamilton and Bradley counties and has plans to open another one in Lebanon, Tenn., outside Nashville. The deal cut by previous Gov. Phil Bredesen to get Amazon into Tennessee involved a commitment that Amazon would not have to collect sales taxes.
But Haslam is now pressing Amazon to let that end after several years.