NASHVILLE — Gov. Bill Haslam said today he continues to back the Bredesen administration’s commitment to Amazon that the company will not be required to collect state sales taxes despite locating two fulfillment centers in Southeast Tennessee.
But the governor was less than clear about how he intends to deal with legislation sponsored by two powerful Republican lawmakers that seeks to require Amazon to collect sales taxes on items it sells to Tennessee customers.
“I’ve actually just got the legislation this morning,” Haslam told reporters. “As I understand it, the attorney general is looking at that [constitutionality] as well. So I’ll probably wait to see what he says before we do it [weigh in].”
On Wednesday, Amazon’s vice president for public policy, Paul Misener, said legislative efforts to make the Internet retailer collect sales taxes on its Tennessee customers are unconstitutional and, if approved, could cause the company to abandon the fulfillment centers it is building in Hamilton and Bradley counties.
Haslam said when he was informed by then-Gov. Phil Bredesen about the state’s commitment to Amazon on sales tax collections, “the intention, as I told them at the time, was to honor the commitment. In terms of my response to the bill, I’ll to see what the attorney general says.”
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, and House Finance Committee Chairman Charles Sargent, R-Franklin, have legislation they say would make it clear the two distribution centers Amazon is building in Hamilton and Bradley counties constitute physical presence or “nexus.”
Under U.S. Supreme Court rulings, states cannot compel out-of-state retailers to collect sales taxes from in-state customers unless they have physical presence or “nexus.”
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Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...