Take Me Out to the Ballgame…


The most closely watched game these days is not taking place on any sports field but in California between the state and online retail giant Amazon.com.

At the heart of the controversy is a new law that would impose a use tax collection duty on Amazon under certain circumstances…and Amazon is putting up a fight.

And Amazon plans on taking its fight against California’s controversial new law to the court of public opinion, rather than California’s court system, Kelly Phillips Erb, the resident Taxgirl at Forbes, reports. Given that courts in New York have sided with the state on this issue, Amazon.com feels that it has a better chance of winning with the public, Erb writes. So, Amazon is seeking a “people’s veto” on the matter by going through California’s referendum process. “That means that Amazon has to collect 504,760 signatures to get the measure on the next ballot,” Erb says.

Amazon is not asking voters to “decide that forcing online merchants to collect sales tax based on the presence of affiliates is not good tax policy,” Erb notes. It “believes that the new law is unconstitutional and it wants voters to agree.” Which Erb feels is an issue better left to the courts.

But, as pointed out to the New York Times by Evan Westrup, a spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown, Amazon may have a bigger problem on their hands: “Where does Amazon plan to collect these signatures — in front of bricks and mortar retailers that collect sales tax everyday?”

In other developments,

No good deed goes untaxed,the New York Times notes, reporting on the tax implications facing the fan that returned Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit.

Continuing with the baseball theme is the Tax Foundation, which detailed the state tax implications of Washington Nationals' prospect Bryce Harper's move from Maryland to Pennsylvania.

For an overview of  “Amazon” laws among various states, see a new report issued by Joseph Henchman of the Tax Foundation.

A new article by Mark Rotatori and Elizabeth Jenkins, both with Jones Day Chicago, warns of the dangers involved with using outside auditors on a contingent-fee basis.

Alabama is apparently a stickler for following rules: a case out of the state’s highest court dismissed a million dollar use tax assessment because the assessment was not signed by hand but instead was signature stamped, Sutherland’s SALTOnline reports.

For those of you interested in engaging in some retail therapy, the Federation of Tax Administrators has updated  their annual list state sales tax holidays.

 By Priya D. Nair

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