Sales-tax break for Amazon hits snag in S.C.

Discussion in 'Politics' started by PocketChange, Apr 14, 2011.

  1. This is criminal.

    The fact that Amazon and QVC have distribution warehouses and employs workers in SC establishes nexus and they are required to collect and remit sales tax.

    The state legislators are so desperate for creating jobs, even warehouse jobs, they have colluded with Amazon and QVC to develop a special tax avoidance scheme and supporting legislation.

    If any of the legislators or immediate family own any stock or have engaged in the trading of Amazon, QVC stock through their own accounts, pensions or otherwise at any time since 2005 they should be prosecuted.

    I believe Sam's club, Costco and all retail consumers in SC have been unfairly charged sales tax and should file a class action lawsuit demanding sales tax be eliminated for all businesses in SC and for retroactive refunds of all sales taxes paid to SC from 2005.

    In Fact, all retailers in SC should demand equal treatment and that they too be granted an exemption from sales tax in the state of SC.

    New governor in South Carolina sitting on the sidelines as builds a warehouse in the state and seeks sales-tax break.

    By Amy Martinez

    Seattle Times business reporter

    Four months ago in South Carolina, then-Gov. Mark Sanford praised as a welcome addition to the state's business community.

    Amazon agreed to build a $100 million warehouse and create about 1,250 permanent jobs in South Carolina. To Sanford, it showed the state's efforts to create a business-friendly climate were paying off.

    But South Carolina's new Republican governor, Nikki Haley, takes a different view. Haley opposes a sales-tax break for Amazon that was part of an economic-incentives package worked out by Sanford's Commerce Department.

    Whether the Seattle-based company carries through on its plans to open the distribution center by the end of this year could depend on what state lawmakers do next. So far, no legislators appear to want to touch it.

    "The state has been put in a terrible spot, forced to choose between not wanting to be known as a state that doesn't keep our promises, and a governor who strongly believes South Carolina's first responsibility is to take care of the businesses we already have and not give preferential treatment," Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said in a statement.

    In 2005, legislators passed a bill stating out-of-state businesses with big distribution centers do not need to collect sales taxes just because they move goods in and out of South Carolina. The law helped persuade QVC to open a warehouse in Florence, but it expired in June.

    The state's Department of Commerce promised Amazon in December it would make its "best efforts to obtain legislation to renew and extend" the sales-tax break. Although the Legislature convened in early January, no such legislation has been introduced.

    Amazon's stance against collecting sales taxes is coming under fire in more and more states as traditional retailers, including big-box chains Walmart and Best Buy, complain this gives the Internet giant an unfair price advantage.

    Their protests come at a time when many states such as South Carolina face severe budget shortfalls and e-commerce companies like Amazon enjoy record profits.

    Under a 1992 Supreme Court decision, Amazon does not have to collect a state's sales tax unless it has a local physical presence. As a result, Amazon collects sales taxes in only a handful of states: Kansas, Kentucky, North Dakota, New York and Washington.

    Johnny Jeffcoat, a councilman in Lexington County, S.C., where work on Amazon's new warehouse is under way, said he spent one day this week introducing company officials to state legislators. Jeffcoat said he thinks legislators will come around and pass a sales-tax break for Amazon.

    He worries if they don't, Amazon will pull out of South Carolina. He cited Amazon's decision to close a Texas warehouse this month after state officials came after the company for four years of unpaid sales taxes.

    "They can have a distribution center here or in a neighboring state," Jeffcoat said. "If they decide to leave, we get none of their jobs and no spinoff business. It seems like we have a lot to lose."

    An Amazon spokeswoman did not return an email or phone call seeking comment Friday.

    Local backers of the deal say they have plenty of time because the state legislative session runs through June 2. Also, they note that while Haley opposes a tax break for Amazon, at least she promises to not stand in the way.

    "If the Legislature chooses to pass this bill, the governor will not veto it," Godfrey said.

    He went on to say, "So let's be very clear: This is not an incentive package the governor would have agreed to, and this situation will never happen on Governor Haley and Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt's watch."

    Haley, who won election last fall with tea-party support, posted a message Thursday on her Facebook page thanking Steven Tanger, president and CEO of Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, for investing $43 million of his own dollars to redevelop a shopping center in the Hilton Head area.

    "No handouts," she added, "over 350 jobs. That's America!"

    Amy Martinez: 206-464-2923 or

  2. pspr


    Amazon had a big warehouse just outside of Dallas and the state sent them a bill for back sales taxes. Amazon decided to move the warehouse out of Texas.

    The Dems are going to introduce legislation soon to tax internet sales. I'm sure brick and mortar businesses have been complaining loud about the advantage internet sellers have.
  3. SC Senate committee approves Amazon tax break
    Posted: Apr 19, 2011 8:08 AM EDT Updated: Apr 19, 2011 7:19 PM EDT

    COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - won initial approval Tuesday from South Carolina legislators to avoid collecting sales taxes after the online retail giant threatened to scuttle a 1,249-job distribution center.

    The Senate Finance Committee agreed 15-5 to send a bill to the floor for debate that would leave it up to consumers to pay sales taxes for their online purchases from the retailer.

    Supporters argued that's the way it's been for 60 years and the state has more to lose with Amazon dropping out of the project and the state not keeping an economic development promise. Meanwhile, they said Congress needs to address the state sales tax issue.

    The vote came as the committee's chairman cut off the chance for public debate by opponents by nixing a hearing in a subcommittee. That irked some opponents, including South Carolina Policy Council President Ashley Landess.

    "No subcommittee hearing. No public testimony," said Landess, whose conservative group opposes special incentives for business. "So the public doesn't get to weigh in at all, really."

    Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman said a detailed public hearing wasn't needed and the issue was aired enough in the full committee.

    The Amazon deal was struck last summer as a five-year-old break from corporate income taxes and sales tax collection requirements was expiring. They were put on the books to help win a QVC distribution center. QVC now collects sales tax on goods sold in South Carolina; Amazon would not.

    The state has no estimate of how much would be gained if Amazon collected taxes on its South Carolina sales or how much would be lost by relying on South Carolinian to continue reporting and paying taxes on their purchases when they file income tax returns.

    And there's no estimate of what existing retailers would give up to competitor Amazon. That worried Sen. Danny Verdin, a Laurens Republican.

    "I just don't see where it is a risk worth taking for existing retail business," Verdin said.

    Sen. Thomas Alexander, a Walhalla Republican, said consumers don't know they're supposed to pay taxes on items they buy online. "Did you all ever try to ask them that question of how many people do that and get laughter from the folks," Alexander asked.

    But Leatherman, a Florence Republican, said the risk was too great in reneging on the Amazon deal. "They won't be coming," Leatherman said.

    Sen. Dick Elliott, a North Myrtle Beach Republican, said the state has to keep promises. "Our word must be our bond and If we have an ironclad commitment to Amazon, we have no choice but to keep it even though there are some downsides."

    Leatherman said the bill needs to move out of the Legislature before the session ends in June. The House is considering similar legislation. While Amazon has not set a deadline for the measure, "we need to put it behind us," Leatherman said.
  4. These 15 legislators need to be brought up on charges for aiding and abetting tax evasion.

    Their argument of letting the consumers report and remit sales tax on purchases with their annual tax returns is a farce.

    If they are so confident that SC consumers will report and pay sales tax then why don't they exempt all sc retailers from collecting and remitting sales tax and let everyone operate on the honor system.
  5. Hello


    This is actually one of the few examples, where i think that someone genuinely deserves to be taxed. Either that or drop sales taxes altogether and let other non internet businesses compete.
  6. SC House Overwhelmingly Rejects Amazon Tax Deal

    In a rare rebuke of special interest deal-making and the Palmetto state’s historic “command” approach to economic development, the S.C. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to reject extending a controversial sales tax exemption to online retailer

    By a vote of 71-47, the House shot down an amendment that would have provided a sales tax “safe harbor” to the company – a key part of the deal former Gov. Mark Sanford promised the company in exchange for its decision to bring 1,300 low-paying jobs to Lexington County, S.C.

    “South Carolina did the right thing today,” said Talbert Black of the Campaign for Liberty – a Tea Party group that led the opposition to the incentives package. “It is not the government’s business to give (a) competitive advantage to any company.”

    The huge House margin all but assures that the measure is dead- although a bill extending the safe harbor exemption is still pending before the S.C. Senate. It also all but assures that Amazon will not build its “fulfillment center” in South Carolina – a deal that was first announced less than five months ago.

    “They say they will leave,” S.C. Rep. Murrell Smith wrote on his Facebook page shortly after the vote, before adding “we just can’t be held hostage to this (deal).”

    Smith voted against the amendment, one of 47 Republicans and 24 Democrats to do so. Twenty-six Republicans and 21 Democrats voted in favor of the deal.
  7. SC waffling: A second Amazon vote puts lawmakers in a tough position because they open themselves to accusations of flip-flopping if they change their minds. Some of them already have: 31 House members voted in favor of an identical sales tax exemption for as-seen-on-TV retailer QVC in 2005 and then voted against Amazon last month.

    Amazon wants an exemption from collecting taxes on purchases by state residents. Shoppers are required to pay taxes, but few do, state revenue officials say.

    The exemption would be on top of a free site, property tax break on equipment, state job tax credits, and repeal of Sunday morning sales limits in Lexington County to facilitate Amazon’s round-the-clock operation.

    Other retailers oppose the exemption for Amazon, saying it gives their competitor an unfair advantage. Buyers perceive untaxed merchandise as cheaper, they say.

    How is the government giving Amazon free land and tax relief not considered government meddling?
  8. As simple as this:

    Ronald Reagan Quote

    Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.
    Ronald Reagan
  9. "We don't negotiate under threats ...right mommy."
  10. ============
    Good Ronald Reagan points;
    and most states dont tax mail order sales, nor should they.

    Close call, if they have a warehouse in state:D ;
    but mostly out of state...............................

    Partial disclosure I just got a book[fast/regular postage] from Amazon , in TN , no sales tax paid;
    but it came from Kentucky warehouse:D
    #10     May 23, 2011