Amazon Battles States Over Sales TaxAug 4th, 2011 | By Admin | Category: Worldview Editorial Page
As a follow-up to our earlier article about how tax law affects behavior, we offer this story.
Amazon.com Inc., the world’s largest online retailer, hasn’t charged sales tax in most states since its founding in 1994. And it has taken some extreme measures to keep it that way.
Among them: Staff traveling around the U.S. have been required to first consult a company map that shades each state red, yellow or green, said three people who have worked for the retailer. These people said they needed permission from managers or company lawyers before entering “red” states because a worker’s actions might trigger laws that force Amazon to collect taxes in those states.
Such steps to avoid local levies allow Amazon to undercut in-state retailers by the amount they must add in sales tax, which can exceed 8%.
A close examination of Amazon’s corporate practices, based on interviews with more than a dozen former employees and people who have done business with the Seattle company, as well as a review of corporate documents, indicates that the company believes its sales-tax policy is critical to its performance.
Credit Suisse recently estimated that if Amazon were forced to collect sales taxes in all states, it would lose as much as…
To continue reading about how Amazon battles States over sales tax, go to TaxProf Blog
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