Watson Takes Tough Stand Against Taxing Amazon

Press Release from the House GOP Caucus, May 9, 2011:

Bradley County Conservative Comes Out Strongly in Defense of Amazon and Jobs for Tennesseans, State Must Not Go Back on Promises Made

(May 9, 2011, NASHVILLE) – With the recent news that a few legislators are considering a bill that would force the company Amazon to pay State sales taxes in Tennessee, Representative Eric Watson (R—Cleveland) vowed to fight the ill-conceived plan that could potentially hurt the job prospects for thousands and the economy for all Tennesseans.

Watson serves as the House Judiciary Chairman and will speak to the Bradley County Commission at noon eastern today regarding Amazon. He intends to ask the Commission to pass a resolution supporting the Fortune Top 100 company.

Before speaking to the Commission, Rep. Watson remarked, “I am heading to the Commission today to talk about an amazing company that is coming to Bradley County and wants to call Tennessee home. I am thankful for the leadership of Amazon who recognize Tennessee is a strong low-tax, right to work State that fosters a great environment for companies to succeed and create jobs.”

The Chairman of the Judiciary continued, “Unfortunately, a few legislators seem to have taken their eye off the ball and want to try to force Amazon to pay sales taxes in Tennessee. In my view, this attempt is unconstitutional and uncalled for. The U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear State’s cannot collect sales taxes from internet-based companies. To try and overturn a clear decision is unwarranted. Moreover, the maneuvering by these lawmakers jeopardizes the reputation of our State. We have a strong track record of welcoming companies and keeping our commitment to them. This legislation infringes on that reputation of prosperity.”

Amazon announced earlier this year it would locate two distribution centers in East Tennessee—one in Bradley County and another in Hamilton County. Over the weekend, the company announced it was looking at additional sites for further expansion in the State. Overall, the company’s investment will total more than $139 million in Tennessee for the first two centers alone. Legislative analysts estimate that Tennessee government would reap an additional $7.9 million a year under the legislation while local governments would see about $2.7 million.

Watson concluded, “It is ridiculous that any legislator would stand in the way of an agreement to bring a company here to Bradley County that stands to benefit all of Tennessee. Here’s my advice for these lawmakers: In this slow economic recovery, I would hate to be known as the legislator who pulled the rug out from a company bringing thousands of jobs to our State. Tennesseans don’t cotton to that kind of ill-conceived effort.”

  • Brad Norrs

    It seems unfair to the citizens of Tennessee to encourage a businesses to come here then tax the citizens here for it when no one else around the country pays taxes for the same purchase. Sales tax should only be charged at a physical point of sale. Unless the federal government can figure out a way for every U.S. citizen to pay the same tax no one should. Walmart, Best Buy, etc. should not be allowed to control our government in such an unreasonable manner. They are point of sale stores Amazon is not. If they think this is unfair they need to discuss it on a national level not penalize Tennesseans for it.

    Secondly why make a company leave for the slef serving interest of big box stores. No matter what you do we won’t get the tax so let’s at least get the jobs, and the reputation of keeping our word.

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