Thu, Feb. 27

Arizona - Safe Haven for Amazon

While the California legislature was passing legislation to require online retailers to begin collecting sales taxes, a law that became effective on July 1 and will generate hundreds of millions of dollars to that financially bankrupt state, Arizona governor Jan Brewer, along with several of our state legislators, were guests of Amazon at its newest distribution center in the Phoenix area.

Arizona, one of many financially bankrupt states, will probably be the last state, if ever, to pass online sales tax legislation. As of this writing, six states, including California and new York, have done so, with another 20+ in the process.

More and more states are seeing the unequal treatment between online and brick-and-mortar retailers as a legitimate source of revenue in these recessionary times.

Instead, the Arizona legislature allowed its version of an e-fairness bill to die in committee during this past legislative session. Given the recent wooing by Amazon of some of these same people, including the governor, it appears unlikely that Arizona will reconsider and/or pass any such legislation in the foreseeable future.

Amazon now has over 4 million square feet of warehouse space in the greater Phoenix area. It contributes nothing to the Arizona economy or to our state's treasury, other than a hundred or so low paying jobs.

Meanwhile, our governor and legislators increased our sales tax by 1 percent over a year ago, claiming that this was not only "temporary" but necessary to avoid severe budgetary cuts to our schools and colleges. Interesting, and somewhat disturbing, is that they then proceeded to slash our state's educational budget, while at the same time lowering corporate income tax rates.

E-fairness legislation could generate a huge amount of revenue for the state of Arizona. Independent estimates indicate that a third of our current budget deficit could be eliminated immediately by such a law, by simply requiring online retailers to collect sales taxes.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that politicians that are easily influenced by a visit to an Amazon warehouse are going to do anything responsible unless they hear from their constituents. So once again, it's up to you and me. Hope you decide to do something. Let your elected officials know what you think about this important fiscal issue.

Joe Neri is the co-owner of The Well Red Coyote bookstore in Sedona. He can be contacted at (928) 282-2284 or

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