Alliance for Main Street Fairness Not Happy With TN’s New Amazon Agreement

Press Release from Alliance for Main Street Fairness, Oct. 6 2011:

Special Deal For Amazon Still Leaves Main Street Businesses At Competitive Disadvantage; Government Picking Winners & Losers Is Bad Policy

Nashville, TN – The Alliance for Main Street Fairness (AMSF) today criticized the deal struck with Amazon.com by Governor Bill Haslam that still gives the online giant an unfair competitive advantage over existing Tennessee businesses. The deal would give Amazon more than two years – and three critical holiday shopping seasons – of special treatment before they begin collecting sales taxes like every other retailer in the state.

“If Amazon can agree to start collecting the sales tax in one year in California, why should we have to wait one day longer in Tennessee,” asked Mike Cohen, spokesperson for the Alliance for Main Street Fairness (AMSF) in Tennessee. “How many Tennessee jobs are lost, how many Tennessee businesses will close because the state grants Amazon a huge price advantage by not having to charge sales taxes?”

An Economic Impact Study commissioned by AMSF and based on the definitive national online sales tax study conducted by the University of Tennessee, said the annual losses from the lack of online sales tax collection from companies including Amazon, totaled almost 7,000 jobs and more than $400-million in tax revenue.

“In difficult economic times, this deal could put almost 8,500 Tennesseans out of work,” continued Cohen. “How can that possibly be anything but bad policy? Our state government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers. This is the same failed policy we’re getting from Washington, and it’s not something we ought to emulate in Tennessee. Every business should be treated the same.”

The deal will require legislative approval, but that action is not expected until 2012. As Amazon opens its facility this year, it remains unclear how they can operate without collecting sales taxes given the opinion issued by Tennessee’s attorney general earlier this week.

“Lawmakers can expect to hear from their constituents, businesses they will put at a huge disadvantage and employers that do pay the sales tax every day. It’s time for government to stop meddling in the free market by giving companies like Amazon special treatment,” concluded Cohen.