2011-04-08 / On Second Thought

Brick and mortar retailers say Amazon sales tax deal unfair to other businesses

Contributed by ACAMSF

The state government agency that cut a controversial sales tax deal with Amazon.com admits that no promises were made to the online–only retail giant.

“We can’t make a promise,” Commerce Department spokeswoman Kara Borie told The State newspaper on Thursday regarding the deal, which was crafted to lure the company to South Carolina.

South Carolina’s agreement with Amazon only states that the Commerce Department would “use its good faith, best efforts” to persuade the legislature to exempt Amazon from sales taxes. The agreement even maintains that the chances of such an exemption would also depend on available resources.

The South Carolina Alliance for Main Street Fairness (SCAMSF), a statewide group representing brick–and–mortar retailers, argues the deal is unfair to other business in the state and will likely cost thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in lost revenue. The group said the state has more than lived up to its “good faith” commitment to Amazon.

“This is an issue of basic fairness. Amazon should not be able to receive a deal that provides it a competitive advantage over South Carolina businesses,” said Brian Flynn, spokesperson for the South Carolina Alliance for Main Street Fairness (SCAMSF). “Furthermore, it is clear Amazon was not promised anything; instead, the online–only retailer is trying to bully our state into giving them an unfair advantage over other retailers.”

Added Flynn, “Not only will South Carolina businesses be negatively impacted by this special deal, but South Carolina consumers will continue to be held liable for unmet tax obligations due to the fact that Amazon refuses to collect the sales tax and places the burden on its customers. Elected leaders in Columbia should stand with their constituents and employers and oppose a special handout to Amazon that will end up costing us more jobs than it creates.”

SCAMSF also noted Amazon signed the deal knowing there were no guarantees that a sales tax exemption would be included. South Carolina currently is experiencing a budget shortfall that is $700 million.

The South Carolina Alliance for Main Street Fairness (SCAMSF) is a statewide organization representing brick–and–mortar retailers that collect sales taxes and are committed to a fair and equitable sales tax system that eliminates the competitive tax advantage granted to certain online–only retailers.

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