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Amazon tax revived a 3rd time; supporters want to forgive retailer’s $53M bill

Despite dying twice already this year, a bill aimed at forcing Amazon.com to collect sales taxes on products it sells to Arizona consumers has been revived again.

This time, the measure has key changes that its supporters hope will win its approval, including forgiving a $53 million bill the state sent the giant online retailer for uncollected taxes.

The strike everything amendment to SB1170 also would push off the implementation of an online tax to 2013.

“This is saying, ‘we’ll let the past be the past,’” said Rep. J.D. Mesnard, a Chandler Republican.

The bill passed 5-3 today in the House Commerce Committee, which is chaired by Mesnard.

He said he thinks this last attempt to get the online retailer tax passed in Arizona now hinges on careful negotiations with the Governor’s Office, since it will require the $53 million forgiveness.

Mesnard said that if Gov. Jan Brewer agrees to the provision, he believes Amazon would abandon the opposition it has so far mounted against the bill, and join in support.

“It’s what they’ve gone for in similar situations in other states,” Mesnard said.

The strike everything amendment will still need to move through the House Appropriations Committee, but Mesnard said the next step will be to engage Brewer’s office to reach an agreeable solution.

So far, Mesnard said he has every indication that the Governor’s Office is open to such negotiations.

“The Governor’s Office has indicated to me that she’s come back very interested in this issue. It’s been addressed by some of her colleagues in other states, and I know she’s been taking a look at what they’ve done,” Mesnard said. “At what point she engages and what level remains to be seen. I have told them all along that if they tell me to stop, I’ll stop, and they have not told me to stop.”

Amazon maintained its opposition to the strike everything amendment during the hearing.

Although legislation targeting singular organizations or individuals is prohibited, the tax changes being considered would only apply to Amazon.com, which has several product warehouses based in Arizona.

The bill’s backers, however, say that because the legislation could apply to other online retailers as well, it is not “special legislation.”

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