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1.19.2012

Amazon Invades Virginia, Booksellers Say "Hell to the No"

Amazon has had it with California. And Texas. And New York. And Indiana.

After the states passed laws forcing Amazon to pay their taxes, the giant is setting up operations in Virginia.  With already one operations center in Northern Virginia, the company announced it plans to open two more: one in Chesterfield and Dinwiddie.

Yet Virginians ain't having it. While the economy is still rough around the edges, and as local governments are scrabbling for money--taxing online businesses (with physical locations within the state) is a solution to invigorate local economies.
"Researchers at the University of Tennessee projected in 2009 that state and local governments nationwide would lose about $11.4 billion in revenue from uncollected taxes from online sales by 2012. The study estimated Virginia's lost revenue in 2012 would be $207 million. Those estimates are for all online sales for which taxes are not collected, not just Amazon sales."
By not paying taxes, Amazon takes business from local communities, yet does not support such communities.

The same article also pointed out that "[i]n 2010, Virginia residents and businesses voluntarily paid $44.5 million in taxes on their tax returns for purchases they made — often online or from a catalog — but were not charged a sales tax for, according to the Virginia Department of Taxation."

Furthermore, the Virginia Alliance for Main Street Fairness recently released data showing that 59% of Virginians believe online business such as Amazon should be required to pay taxes.

With such backing from the citizens, the group will  push legislation.

And of course local booksellers agree.

"A Norfolk Pilot report says bookseller Sarah Pishko, owner of Prince Books in Norfolk, filed a complaint with the state’s Department of Taxation over the situation, and has gained the support of at least one state legislator, Del. Paula Miller. Says Pishko, “I think people need to be aware that states are losing a lot of money that they should have.”
In a Lynchburg News & Advance report, another bookseller, Kelly Justice, owner of the Fountain Bookshop in Richmond, says, “I wish that our local governments were as accommodating to small, locally owned businesses as they were to large, behemoth corporations.”

Perhaps soon Viriginia will join California, Texas, New York, and Indiana, and it might be a good point on which other booksellers and trade association can lobby and garner support from their members and customers to make Jeff Bezos angry.

Stick stickers on your windows in such legislation, inform your customer, (de)occupy Amazon!

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