Amazon is refusing to collect sales taxes in California. Instead, it has offered to create 7,000 jobs. It it being a fair negotiator or a bully?
Did you just buy a new DVD on Amazon.com? If you live in California, you owe 7.5 percent sales tax on that purchase, and it's up to you to mail it in. That's because Amazon refuses to collect the tax from you directly, even though a law requiring it to do so has been in effect since July. It is instead mounting a referendum campaign to overturn the law. Angry lawmakers are now trying to pass an "urgency" measure that would end that effort.
A look at the numbers behind the fight:
- $200,000,000: Dollars per year California stands to take in under a law requiring online retailers to collect state sales tax.
- $5,250,000: Dollars Amazon has already donated to an effort to repeal the law.
- $13,000,000,000: Dollars cut in June from the state's two university systems because of budget shortfalls.
- 2,257,000: Californians unemployed (PDF) in July, a rate of 12 percent.
- 7,000: Jobs Amazon offered to create in the state if California delays enacting the law until 2014.
- $95,000,000,000: Amazon's market capitalization.
- 30: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos's ranking among richest people in the world, according to Forbes.
- 0: Chance that a federal law to collect online sales tax (a bill Amazon supports) has of passing.
- $159,865,956: State sales taxes paid in 2010 to California by Staples, the number-two online retailer in the country. Staples cannot dodge the tax in the way Amazon has because it has actual brick-and-mortar stores.