Amazon, Tennesee, Bill Haslam, and a national sales tax.

(Full disclosure: I am an Amazon.com Affiliate for Maryland.)

Glenn Reynolds noted this apparent contradiction in what Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s position actually is with regard to having Amazon.com collect sales tax: is the Republican Governor for it, or against it?  I say ‘apparent’ because there isn’t one, really; there’s just not enough context.

Basically, the position that Haslam is taking is that the state of Tennessee trying to impose an Amazon tax would probably wreck ongoing negotiations between the state and Amazon.com when it comes to getting a couple more job-creating distribution centers built in-state (which it probably will).  Haslam also thinks that a national, standardized system for sales tax is both necessary and proper:

[Haslam] said Tennessee is already losing between $300 million and $500 million a year on untaxed Internet sales — a growing number since the states and Congress have been unable for more than a decade to agree on a “streamlined sales tax” process enabling online retailers to collect taxes easily for the nation’s thousands of state and local taxing jurisdictions.

“It’s not going to begin eroding the state’s tax base; it already is. Something has to happen nationally. The whole streamlined sales tax is a big deal, and I’m more than willing to play a leadership role,” Haslam said. “It has to be addressed on a national level or we’re going to keep playing these kinds of move-around games.”


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