By Dale Kasler
dkasler@sacbee.com
Published: Friday, Jul. 15, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 4A

The dispute over Internet sales tax in California might wind up in court before it goes to the voters.

Two days after Amazon.com unveiled a ballot referendum to repeal California’s new online tax law, two Democratic lawmakers labeled Amazon’s effort unconstitutional.

An Amazon lawyer defended the referendum attempt.

The referendum is in limbo until Monday, when Attorney General Kamala Harris must rule whether the referendum is proper. If she clears it, Amazon can start gathering signatures.

Whichever way she rules, the losing side could end up suing.

“I’m sure there will be litigation on this,” said Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon, D-Whittier.

Calderon, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner and several area retailers crowded into Swanberg’s on J, a small midtown clothier that specializes in Hawaiian shirts, to blast Amazon’s sales tax stance. By not collecting the tax, Amazon is harming brick-and-mortar retailers, they said.

“It’s a fairly big issue,” said Swanberg’s owner Lauren Lundsten, wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt.

The new law says Amazon and other online merchants with a physical presence in the state must collect sales tax from California customers. Amazon won’t collect the tax and is trying to repeal it by referendum.

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