Eight states already tax electronic commerce, but most states have held off because Congress had signaled it would devise a national model to simplify the thousands of tax rates used by state and local governments across the country.
Deal said he wasn't content to wait on Congress to act on immigration enforcement when he signed a tough law last year and that states may grow tired of waiting for federal leadership on e-commerce, too.
"In the absence of congressional activity on that ... I think there will be some appetite to act on that in the legislature," he said. "That's still in the very, very early stages of discussion." The governor told the members of the Georgia Press Association that it could be a way to replace taxes the state would give up by exempting energy factories use from sales tax, an idea he is pushing this legislative session in hopes it will lure more manufacturing employers.
Legislative leaders asked right after Deal's comments said they weren't familiar with a current proposal.
"It's not something that can be easily done," said Rep. Mickey Channell, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Federal court decisions limit how states can apply the tax, he said, adding that he favors it as a former retailer.
"It makes no sense to me to punish our brick-and-mortar merchants who pay local property taxes and provide jobs and make them charge a 7-percent higher price," said Channell, R-Greensboro.
Rep. Ron Stephens, chairman of the House Economic Development Committee, also likes the idea.
"I'm just glad we're trying to level the playing field," said Stephens, R-Savannah.