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California Liberals Move to Block Referendum Nixing 'Amazon Tax'


In the latest turn of events relevant to California’s move to force out-of-state, online-only retailers to collect and remit to it California sales taxes– an effort that legal experts say is likely unconstitutional– Golden State liberals are pursuing a new legislative scheme to invalidate a referendum that appears headed to the ballot and which would nix the “Amazon Tax.”

From the Sacramento Bee:

A group of California legislators plans to push a new online sales tax bill in a move to thwart tax opponent

Lawmakers today used a “gut-and-amend” procedure that takes an existing bill and substitutes an online sales tax measure. The bill passed the Senate Appropriations Committee today.

In late June, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill requiring Amazon and other online retailers to begin collecting sales tax on California transactions. The bill passed on a regular, majority vote. Amazon has refused to collect the tax and launched a referendum to have it overturned.

But Larry Levin, a spokesman for Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland, said the new legislation would be different. It would pass on a two-thirds supermajority and would carry an “urgency” clause. That means it can’t be subject to ballot referendum, Levin said.

Backers of the legislation reportedly believe they can get two-thirds of each chamber to vote for the bill in question. Skeptics however charge that that will be tough in light of Republican numbers in both chambers, and GOP opposition to the “Amazon Tax” already exhibited during previous legislative battles.

Proponents of the tax increase will need to get the support of three GOP members in the Senate and two in the Assembly to clear the two-thirds majority hurdle.

That could be tough in a state where among the electorate in general– to say nothing of Republican voters, who slant conservative– more voters oppose the Amazon Tax than support it, according to July USC Dornsife/LA Times polling.

Taxpayer protection groups have to-date consistently opposed the Amazon Tax, arguing that it is an unconstitutional tax hike that will cost the state jobs and revenue, pointing to already-seen relocations of e-businesses away from the Golden State to jurisdictions outside the California tax net.

The “Amazon Tax” referendum nixing the measure is likely to appear on the June 2012 ballot.

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