I’ve sort of run out of time to go very deeply into the Amazon compromise today, but I wanted to go ahead and put up something about it…
A deal reached early today paves the way for online retailer Amazon to open a distribution center employing 2,000 people.
The state Senate agreed shortly after midnight to give the company a sales tax exemption it wants for the project, ending a two-day talkathon that opponents launched to stall the measure.
“We’ve got a deal,” Sen. Shane Massey, R-Edgefield, announced after resistance ended when all sides agreed that Amazon will send customers in South Carolina notices that sales tax is owed on purchases.
It was quickly approved on a unanimous voice vote.
Amazon’s $125 million project near Cayce would be one of the largest recent developments in the Midlands.
The agreement moves the proposal to the verge of final legislative approval. The plan approved in the Senate will need to go back to the House, which approved the deal last week. But House leaders promise to accept changes that Amazon allies have made in the measure….
Basically, I was impressed at what the lawmakers came up with. No, Amazon won’t be collecting the tax on SC sales, and I think that it should. It won’t be calculating the amount for customers, either.
But what it WILL do is notify customers of something that many seem to be unaware of now — that they most likely DO owe taxes on the purchase (the reason why it says “may owe” instead of “owe” is to step around the complication of all those exemptions we have, such as the fact that you don’t owe taxes if what you bought from Amazon was a Bible) — and point them in the direction of finding out how much, and paying it. Here’s what the amendment requires (for more, search for “Amendment No. 230” on this link:
(E)(1) A person to whom this section applies who makes a sale through the person’s internet website shall notify a purchaser in a confirmation email that the purchaser may owe South Carolina use tax on the total sales price of the transaction and include in the email an internet link to the Department of Revenue’s website that allows the purchaser to pay the use tax. The notice must include language that is substantially similar to the following:
YOU MAY OWE SOUTH CAROLINA USE TAX ON THIS PURCHASE BASED ON THE TOTAL SALES PRICE OF THE PURCHASE. YOU MAY VISIT WWW.SCTAX.ORG TO PAY THE USE TAX OR YOU MAY REPORT AND PAY THE TAX ON YOUR SOUTH CAROLINA INCOME TAX FORM.
(2) The Department of Revenue shall cooperate with any person to whom this section applies and provide the person with the information and assistance necessary to comply with the provisions of this subsection and the means to link to the applicable portion of the department’s website. The department shall develop the webpage required by item (1) and develop a means to allow the purchaser to pay any required tax through the webpage. The department shall include on the webpage a table of the various sales tax rates of the State by location that permits the person to calculate the tax based on the total sales price and delivery location.
(3)(a) A person to whom this section applies shall also by February first of each year provide to each purchaser to whom tangible goods were delivered in this State a statement of the total sales made to the purchaser during the preceding calendar year. The statement must contain language substantially similar to the following:
YOU MAY OWE SOUTH CAROLINA USE TAX ON PURCHASES YOU MADE FROM US DURING THE PREVIOUS TAX YEAR. THE AMOUNT OF TAX YOU MAY OWE IS BASED ON THE TOTAL SALES PRICE OF [INSERT TOTAL SALES PRICE] THAT MUST BE REPORTED AND PAID WHEN YOU FILE YOUR SOUTH CAROLINA INCOME TAX RETURN UNLESS YOU HAVE ALREADY PAID THE TAX.
The statement must not contain any other information that would indicate, imply, or identify the class, type, description, or name of the products purchased. Any information that would indicate, imply, or identify the class, type, description, or name of the products purchased is considered strictly confidential.
That’s more than we have now. And it gets us those 2,000 (or more) jobs. That’s a good deal for South Carolina.