Amazon is a bully and a predator, exploiting weaknesses in sales tax laws and eating its brick-and-mortar competitors' lunch. How do you relate to a bully? You stand up to them and the cowards will back down. Their days of tax dodging are numbered.
Why would anyone pay sales tax on an out-of-state purchase? Because it's the law. If the seller does not collect sales tax on the purchase, it is the buyer's obligation to pay "use tax" at the same rate for the privilege of using the "tangible property" in their state of residence. Every state that has a sales tax has a corresponding use tax. Being a libertarian is one thing. Breaking the law is another.
So how did the Haslam administration accomplish the exemption for Amazon? Was it an open, public process? Or did they do it with a behind-closed-doors backroom deal? Who else will come along and bully us into giving them an exemption? The sales tax is the foundation of Tennessee's tax structure. Amazon and Haslam just took a sledgehammer to it.
There's more at stake here than the current level of tax code spending the administration proposes. If Amazon is exempted, sales will continue to migrate to them and other Internet retailers instead of local businesses that employ more people. It's a slippery slope. The local retailers will be squeezed, they'll layoff workers and eventually they will shut down, further reducing state revenue and increasing unemployment causing another deep recession.
It's part of a big conservative strategy to defame government, defund government, deregulate business and divest public assets. All in order to transfer wealth from working people to the rich.
Yes, Amazon has shown itself to be a bully. NY passed a law requiring Amazon to collect NY sales tax based on Amazon's use of "affiliates" in NY to solicit sales. Amazon filed suit and has lost twice. Rhode Island and NC passed similar laws and Amazon retaliated by terminating its affiliate programs. Colorado passed a different law requiring all out-of-state vendors who sell more than $10K into the state to either collect sales tax or report to their customers and to the state the amount of purchases annually. Amazon terminated its CO affiliates, too.
They abandoned their distribution centers in TX when the state attempted to collect sales tax. And now they're trying to blackmail TN by demanding an exemption from sales tax as a condition of locating here.
It's been estimated that Amazon's sales tax collections would be $64 million a year. Why should the state give them that much money and allow them a huge competitive advantage over retailers who have paid taxes in TN for years. How would you like for the state to take your hard-earned tax dollars and give them to your competition? It's the worst form of wealth redistribution.
If Amazon decides not to locate in TN, TN can tax its sales to Tennesseans anyway by enacting a law similar to the one NY adopted 2 years ago. Amazon has been collecting NY sales tax while contesting the law, but it has been upheld in NY Appeals Court.
The fact that Amazon employees will pay sales and other taxes in TN is irrelevant to whether Amazon should collect sales taxes on its sales to Tennesseans. All the employees of other bricks-and-mortar stores in TN also pay their taxes and have been paying them for years. Giving Amazon a break is an insult to all the good taxpaying citizens and businesses who already call Tennessee home.
It seems like "Tax_Payer" (above) needs a reminder that TN also has a use tax that requires the TN taxpayer to voluntarily pay TN sales (use) taxes on out-of-state purchases when the vendor does not collect them. If he hasn't been paying use tax, his username is a lie. It's not tax "avoidance". It's tax "evasion" which is illegal.
The only reason TN sales tax is so high is that the rich folks have prevented us from having an income tax.