Prominent TN Furniture Retailer says Amazon Tax Deal Bad for Homegrown Business

Press Release from the Alliance for Main Street Fairness, Aug 25, 2011:

One Of Tennessee’s Oldest Businesses Calls For Change At State & Federal Level

Lebanon, TN – The owners of one of Tennessee’s oldest businesses said today that the deal the state struck to get Amazon.com to locate distribution centers in the state is wrong and bad for local employers. DT McCall & Sons, which sells furniture, electronics, appliances, guns and more, operates stores in Carthage, Cookeville, Lafayette and Lebanon. They also sell products online and collect the sales tax.

Lebanon is one of the Tennessee locations where Amazon will be opening a distribution center. Under the deal brokered by then-Governor Phil Bredesen, Amazon doesn’t have to collect and remit sales taxes in the Volunteer State. DT McCall & Sons wants both state and Federal action to fix the inequities in collecting state sales taxes so Tennessee employers are not operating at a competitive disadvantage.

“Our company welcomes Amazon and their investment to Tennessee; however, you’d like to think that after 115 years of paying and collecting state taxes and employing Tennesseans, the state wouldn’t cut a deal to give your competition an unfair price advantage,” said AJ McCall, one of the owners of DT McCall & Sons. “But that is exactly what they’ve done. They’ve used their power to put my company at risk and even helped locate them in the same town.”

Current Governor Bill Haslam has said publicly that Congress needs to pass a bill setting national policy concerning the issue so every state handles online sales taxes collection in the same manner. A study by the University of Tennessee concluded the state is losing $400 million dollars a year from uncollected sales taxes over the Internet.

McCall went on to say, “This is actually one of those cases where Congress can do something to help employers. I just hope they act soon, before more local businesses layoff employees or close up shop altogether. Those losses will grow because for every job Amazon creates, I believe we will lose two jobs at existing businesses. This deal is a lose-lose for every retailer in the state.”

McCall’s is far from alone in their view. The Alliance for Main Street Fairness (AMSF) represents Main Street business in all parts of the state that have banded together to oppose Amazon getting a government-sanctioned advantage. AMSF is also calling for a national solution that allows states to ensure all businesses operating within their borders are able collect and remit sales taxes.

“The state should be doing everything it can to help all businesses prosper,” said Mike Cohen, spokesperson for the Alliance for Main Street Fairness (AMSF) in Tennessee. “The government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers by forcing local businesses to collect the sales tax, while allowing out-of-state companies to avoid doing so. Both the state and Federal government should do the right thing by creating a level playing field level that lets all businesses compete fairly.”

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