WRAL Investigates

UNC system schools to collect sales tax on online purchases

Posted October 8, 2010

— Schools in the University of North Carolina system will begin collecting sales tax on school merchandise bought online, UNC President Erskine Bowles said Friday.

A WRAL News investigation recently detailed a sales tax disparity between athletic apparel and other items bought by fans in local stores and through official college websites. If the vendor that operates the website is out of state, no sales tax is collected.

Retailers complained about the policy's lack of fairness, and Gov. Beverly Perdue recently asked Bowles to review the matter and create a standardized system for collecting sales tax.

"We're a public entity," Bowles said. "We're owned by the taxpayers of North Carolina. It's a reasonable request for the governor to make."

North Carolina State University’s official merchandiser, Go Pack, said it has already pushed its out-of-state online vendor to start charging.

Bowles said it would take time to work with other vendors on technical issues to begin collecting the tax.

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