Just weeks after California Gov. Jerry Brown signed sales tax fairness into law, Amazon.com has filed a petition with the California Attorney General’s Office seeking a voter referendum to overturn the new law. AB 28X requires remote retailers with nexus in the state to collect and remit sales tax to the state for orders made by California residents.
“Having long behaved as if tax laws don’t apply to them, Amazon.com has now announced its intention to spend millions of dollars in an effort to get a tax-evasion referendum on the ballot in California,” said American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher, speaking on behalf of ABA, the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, and the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association. “California has made clear that it’s not the role of government to pick favorites among retail businesses. The time has come for Amazon.com to collect and remit the required sales tax — just like every other California retailer. If Amazon.com is not prepared to do the right thing, we urge the state Board of Equalization to pursue all available means to compel Amazon.com to comply with the law, just as 400,000 California retailers do every day.”
Presently, it is unclear whether the law can be overturned via referendum, but, if the attorney general's office rules in favor of the referendum, Amazon.com will need to collect 504,000 signatures by October for the referendum to appear on a June 2012 ballot. The attorney general's office can declare the request valid, invalid, or can turn the decision over to the courts.
In an e-mail sent to California booksellers, Teicher stressed: “Rest assured, ABA, the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, and the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association — along with our colleagues in the Alliance for Main Street Fairness are not standing pat as Amazon.com continues to maintain its unfair sales tax advantage over Main Street retailers.
Teicher added that the three associations will be reaching out to the California Board of Equalization to urge the Board to enforce AB 28X, and that they may ask booksellers to conduct a similar outreach in the near future.