NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam said today he would prefer to reach an agreement in which Amazon eventually collects Tennessee sales taxes as opposed to having state lawmakers force the company to do so.
"I would love to have an approach where there was an agreement first, where Amazon said, 'OK, we'd like to grow and expand in Tennessee and we'll do it according to this agreement,'" Haslam told reporters.
Pressed on whether he would say no to Amazon's legislative critics if they tried to unilaterally impose such a deal, Haslam said, "I certainly wouldn't like to see us do that given the commitments we've made to Amazon in the past. I mean, I wouldn't like to see just us do something that they didn't agree with.
"On the other hand," Haslam said, "I'd like to see Amazon be flexible and realistic as well."
Amazon is building two distribution centers in Hamilton and Bradley counties under a deal struck with Haslam's predecessor, former Gov. Phil Bredesen. In the deal, the Internet retailing giant would not have to collect sales taxes on purchases made by its Tennessee customers.
That was attacked in the General Assembly last session by two prominent lawmakers who sought to compel Amazon to begin collecting sales taxes once they have established physical presence with the distribution centers.
The bill was delayed until 2012 pending a state attorney general's opinion, which later said such a law would meet U.S. Supreme Court guidelines.
For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.