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Amazon wants voters to decide sales tax issue

July 11, 2011 |  4:43 pm

Amazon Inc. plans to put a referendum on the California ballot to strike down the state’s Internet sales tax law that went into effect 11 days ago.

“This is a referendum on jobs and investment in California,” said Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global public policy in Washington, D.C. “We support this referendum against the recent sales tax legislation because, with unemployment at well over 11%, Californians deserve a voice and a choice about jobs, investment and the state’s economic future.”

Amazon has insisted that it will not collect the 7.25% base sales tax on purchases made by California customers. Instead, the Seattle retail giant filed the needed documents Friday with the California attorney general’s office to seek a referendum.

Two weeks ago, the company severed all business ties with about 10,000 affiliated websites in California that earn commissions by referring buyers to Amazon. One of the key criteria for imposing the duty to collect sales tax under the new law was the online retailer’s connections to businesses in the state.

Legislators wanted to level the playing field between online-only sellers based out of state and the bricks-and-mortar retailers, such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Best Buy Co., that must collect sales taxes.


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-- Marc Lifsher

Photo credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press