published Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Amazon.com sales tax bill begins moving in Tennessee House

Employees working in the intake section sort merchandise arriving from trucks while inside of the Amazon distribution center at Enterprise South in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Thursday, January 5, 2012. The neighboring Chattanooga and Cleveland based Amazon distribution centers opened in the Fall of 2011 and employ between two and four thousand workers depending on the season.
Employees working in the intake section sort merchandise arriving from trucks while inside of the Amazon distribution center at Enterprise South in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Thursday, January 5, 2012. The neighboring Chattanooga and Cleveland based Amazon distribution centers opened in the Fall of 2011 and employ between two and four thousand workers depending on the season.
Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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NASHVILLE — Legislation requiring Amazon.com to begin collecting state and local sales taxes on goods the Internet retailer sells to Tennesseans starting in 2014 easily cleared its first hurdle in the House Budget Subcommittee today.

The move is expected to generate an additional $22.84 million for state coffers and $9.65 million for local governments beginning in the 2014-15 budget year. The House Finance Committee’s budget subcommittee approved the deal, which Amazon agreed to, on a voice vote.

Amazon director of global public policy Paul Meisener later said the legislation “allows us to bring 3,500 full-time jobs and $350 million in capital investments to the state. And with Tennessee’s leadership, we’re now in position to actually seek federal legislation which will resolve the sales tax question forever.”

Asked about a legislative analysis outlining the taxes Amazon will be paying — and which it is excluded from paying until Jan. 1, 2014, the company’s vice president of global public policy, Paul Misener told reporters, “I don’t have that figure.”

He stressed Amazon’s investments in the state, which include two giant distribution centers already up and operating in Hamilton and Bradley counties.

The bill exempts Amazon from paying state sales taxes until 2014 unless Congress acts sooner to approve federal legislation that would require all Internet retailers without a physical presence in states to begin collecting sales taxes.

The state legislation from Gov. Bill Haslam was intended to satisfy legislative critics of the Amazon deal, which originally would have permitted Amazon from collecting state sales taxes in perpetuity.

It has two other House committees to clear before going to the House floor. The bill comes up next week in a Senate committee.

about Andy Sher...

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, ...

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