Amazon rattles saber: We will rethink our Nevada investment

Online retail pioneer Amazon has issued a not entirely surprising response to the campaign by Nevada’s brick-and-mortar retailers promoting sales tax collection by online merchants.

Amazon personnel said on a Wednesday phone call that they were aware of the pending amendment to Nevada Senate Bill 34, the existence of which has received wide press coverage, and which will be presented by the Retail Association of Nevada as a tax fairness measure.  Leading up to the presentation, the association has launched a television and radio campaign to influence public opinion in favor of retailers who collect taxes as required by law for schools and other public necessities, implicitly shaming companies that don’t. In the center of the bull’s eye — Amazon.

A written statement from Amazon Vice President of Global Public Policy Paul Misener was issued by email.

“The new tax legislation sought by big box retailers would make us reconsider our pending plans for jobs and investment in Nevada, including in Las Vegas,” he wrote.

Amazon has made headlines in state after state fighting any effort to force it into the role of sales tax collector.  It has battled the efforts by going to court, and by threatening to pull distribution centers out of states where legislatures are brewing up such a requirement, stirring fear of economic disruption and job loss.

The Nevada Association of Retailers asserts the state is losing jobs anyway, because physical retailers located here can’t compete with Amazon and other online merchants who aren’t required to pay sales taxes, and often provide free delivery.

The issue, says the association’s Bryan Wachter, is that Amazon should be paying (collecting) those taxes now.  He emphasized that the tax is not a new tax, because the online shopper is currently obligated by law to download a consumer use tax form from the Department of Taxation website, self-report online purchases, and pay the tax.  Hardly anyone does it because people are unaware of the law.

“It will be interesting to see if Amazon chooses to continue to have their advantage by leaving the state, as opposed to doing what most other companies are already doing,” Wachter said.

— original post —

Amazon issued the following written statement on Wednesday to the Reasonable Reporter in response to a request for comment regarding the Retail Association of Nevada’s legislative push to force the online retail giant to collect sales taxes in Nevada.  The request was part of the work for my segment on this week’s “Impact Nevada,”  which airs each weekend on Vegas PBS Channel 10 and commercial channel 8 in Las Vegas. Statement below, more to follow.

Here’s a statement from Paul Misener, Amazon vice-president of Global Public Policy:

“The new tax legislation sought by big box retailers would make us reconsider our pending plans for jobs and investment in Nevada, including in Las Vegas.”

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