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San Diego Business Owners Want Fair Play From Amazon

Audio

Aired 8/11/11

Small business and union officials in San Diego are blasting Amazon.com's fight to keep from collecting California sales taxes.

— Amazon is pushing to overturn a California law requiring the firm to collect sales tax on internet purchases from California consumers.

California lawmakers passed the measure during the last budget negotiations because it puts hundreds of millions of dollars in the state's treasury.

Amazon's reticence angers some of the region's small business owners, like Anne Mery. She spoke out against the online store's tactics at a news conference in La Jolla's Birdrock area.

San Diego business owner Anne Mery joins others in denouncing Amazon's efforts to avoid collecting California business taxes.  Mery runs The Grove in South Park.
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Above: San Diego business owner Anne Mery joins others in denouncing Amazon's efforts to avoid collecting California business taxes. Mery runs The Grove in South Park.

"It looks like it's becoming a nice, vibrant business community of small storefronts, where people, I'm sure, enjoy shopping, and if they want it to continue they have to support the small stores. And pay the sales tax, which they do here," said Mery.

Amazon has since announced a drive for a ballot measure that will wipe the law from the books. The leader of the San Diego Fire Fighter's Union called that a bad idea, because the money supports public services.

"If it is collected here then it is eventually going to trickle back to the general fund, which in turn then provides the services, the vital services on fire and police protection," said Frank De Clercq, president of Local 145 of the San Diego City Fire Fighters.

He urged people not to sign petitions calling for the state to roll back the new internet tax rules. Amazon is promising a major push to roll back the law at the ballot box.

Comments

Avatar for user 'jahmonkey'

jahmonkey | August 11, 2011 at 4:03 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Taxes, Firefighters, Unions...why do these three always appear together!!!
Raise Taxes / Raise Pensions

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Avatar for user 'collegegrad'

collegegrad | August 12, 2011 at 10:06 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Maybe the words 'fair play' in this title should be in quotations since it doesn't seem to go both ways. i don't hear amazon complaining that local stores should be made to bear the costs of shipping goods to my house so that they can be more competitive.

sales tax should not be imposed on amazon purchases because mail orders put very liitle burden on the local infrastructure. a local store DOES use the roads, sewer, city planning, street cleaning and especially police and firefighters. whatever services we recieve from our sales taxes are used a lot more by a local business than by a mail order shipper.

the federal courts have consistently ruled on the criteria for legally collecting sales taxes for many years. i'm sorry that our state is broken and spends more than it collects. our state government is desperate for easy fixes and is laying this legal burden on someone else rather than fixing its own mess.

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Avatar for user 'ioconnor'

ioconnor | August 14, 2011 at 7:13 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

"San Diego Business Owners Want Fair Play From Amazon"?

When did KPBS determine it was Amazon and not our meddling government that is not playing fair? It's a shame KPBS can't think straight.

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Avatar for user 'teddychan'

teddychan | August 16, 2011 at 10:03 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

This issue has NOTHING to do with RAISING taxes or NEW taxes, people. It's about forcing Amazon to collect sales tax just as EVERY OTHER law abiding retail business in the state does, from the mom and pop corner store (the few that are left) to Walmart.com, Target.com, Lowes.com etc.

<p>Amazon.com doesn't collect sales tax simply because they think they're above the law and because they like having a 8 or 9% advantage over their competitors. And of course, they couldn't care less if California closes fire houses, parks, libraries, schools, or lays off policemen, teachers, firemen; or goes bankrupt.

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Avatar for user 'collegegrad'

collegegrad | August 18, 2011 at 10:31 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

in response to 'teddychan':

amazon (and other mail order businesses) have been following federal law in collecting no state taxes. the courts have consistently so ruled for decades. california is in fact trying to impose NEW TAXES where they were not owed before. our state passed a NEW LAW this year to try and exploit a loophole in the federal court rulings that make a sales-tax-collection exception where the company has a physical presence in the state. this NEW LAW calls california-based 'online partners' with internet linking to the amazon website part of amazon. Come on now.

California may well be forced to close fire houses and libraries. let's lay the blame where it belongs, not on amazon who is in fact following decades of federal law but on our own statehouse. it's not amazon's job to pay modesto's teacher's or lompoc's policemen's salaries --- why should they, they're not even in our state!

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