Around midnight last night in Senate, Amazon finally overcame strong opposition to win an exemption from collecting sales tax on in-state purchases. Only the House agreeing to some Senate amendments stands in the way of the retail giant building a new distribution center in Lexington County.
While we were on the losing side, the team of lobbyists fighting the principled fight to stop the unfair sales tax exemption was still able to smile. We had fought the good battle along with some staunch support from Senators Lee Bright, Kevin Bryant, Chip Campsen, Tom Davis, Mike Fair, Greg Gregory, Larry Grooms, Billy O’Dell, Mike Rose, Greg Ryberg and Phillip Shoopman.
Because of our opposition in defense of all other retailers in the state that compete with Amazon.com, the state now has a much better return on its give-aways to Amazon—60% more jobs and 39% more investment in the state.
The Senate also made the online giant guarantee that after they meet their 2000 new jobs goal they also have to maintain that at 1500 to keep the deal (the House had allowed Amazon to only maintain 1000 of the jobs long-term).
The loyal Senate opponents also tried to pass an amendment that would have required all the 2000 new jobs be South Carolina residents but Amazon refused and the vote was lost.
But Amazon did agree to one more important change—they now will tell their South Carolina customers twice that their purchase in most cases does require them to pay sales tax to the state. This message will come with confirmation of their purchase and on February first of the following year. The latter message will tell the customer exactly the total sales price of all their purchases with Amazon that occurred in the previous year. If the sales tax had not already been remitted to the SC Dept. of Revenue, it should be reported on their income tax filing.
Now there will no longer be any excuse that South Carolinians will not know that they owe the state sales tax and are legally bound to personally pay it. Plus, this record would presumably be available to tax auditors if requested from Amazon.
This final “Scared Straight” amendment doesn’t correct the unfair competitive advantage Amazon.com will have over our other brick-and-mortar/online South Carolina retailers, but it will help.