SACRAMENTO, Sept. 1 (UPI) — Internet retailer Amazon.com offered to build distribution centers and hire 1,000 workers if California drops, even temporarily, its sales tax collection law.
The proposal was made in the form of draft legislation offered during a meeting between Amazon lobbyists and representatives of companies belonging to the California Retailers Association, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.
Supporters of the state’s attempt to collect about $300 million a year in unpaid taxes on Internet sales called Amazon’s effort a ploy.
“It’s a totally cynical maneuver that’s part of their game that they try to play in every state that keeps them from getting the sales tax,” said Lenny Goldberg, a legislative advocate for the California Tax Reform Association.
The Times said an informal memo indicated the Internet retailer wants the California Legislature to repeal a law that took effect July 1 requiring Amazon and other out-of-state Internet sellers to collect California sales taxes.
Amazon said it wouldn’t and is underwriting a referendum campaign to repeal the law. Amazon also would like California not to force the company to collect the sales tax until at least January 2014.
In return for either delaying collection or repealing the law, Amazon said it would hold back signatures it said it already had collected and drop its effort to put the matter before voters on the ballot next June. Amazon also said it would build two fulfillment centers in the state and would hire 1,000 employees.
The state retailers association dismissed the proposal as “not serious,” the Times said.
Retailers President Bill Dombrowski said the deal “will only prolong the harm to small businesses that employ Californians.”