| Amazon wants to overturn rules requiring they collect sales taxes, but is it possible through referendum?
by Brian Leubitz
The following provision of the California Constitution will get much scrutiny over the next few weeks (and months) as Amazon seeks to overturn the requirement that they collect sales taxes:
SEC. 9. (a) The referendum is the power of the electors to approve
or reject statutes or parts of statutes except urgency statutes,
statutes calling elections, and statutes providing for tax levies or
appropriations for usual current expenses of the State.
That's from Article II of the California Constitution. While a quick reading would indicate that Amazon could not, in fact, put the tax statute to a referendum, quick readings don't always win the day. And while Amazon's attorney, Steve Merksamer, spouts off about how the right to referendum is "sacrosanct," it isn't quite that simple either.
The measure is now in the capable hands of Attorney General Kamala Harris, who will determine whether it can proceed to the signature gathering phase. If she determines that it is not a valid referendum, then Amazon will likely sue. If she finds it is valid, well, expect a suit in the opposite direction, after all these are some high stakes:
Whichever way she rules, the losing side could end up suing.
"I'm sure there will be litigation on this," said Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon, D-Whittier.
Calderon, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner and several area retailers crowded into Swanberg's on J, a small midtown clothier that specializes in Hawaiian shirts, to blast Amazon's sales tax stance. By not collecting the tax, Amazon is harming brick-and-mortar retailers, they said.
"It's a fairly big issue," said Swanberg's owner Lauren Lundsten, wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt.(SacBee)
The automatic 9% discount that Amazon gets is made any more fair through all of their machinations. They've blocked other avenues to charge sales tax on their products, so what choice is left?
We should hear sometime soon from the AG's office, and then shortly thereafter in the courts. But this is not a battle that should have to be fought for the sake of an unfair advantage for an out-of-state corporation.