Legislative leaders agree to let the online retailer delay collecting taxes for a year, while it would drop its battle to overturn the state law. Gov. Jerry Brown has not said if he will support the plan.

By Anthony York and Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times
September 8, 2011

Reporting from Sacramento— Amazon.com cut a tentative deal with legislative leaders Wednesday night that would allow it to postpone collecting sales taxes from Californians for another year.

The company in turn would drop its battle to overturn the state’s new law that required it and many other out-of-state online retailers to collect the taxes.

Under the deal, Amazon would delay collecting taxes until September 2012, Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D-Whittier) said. The new law had mandated that Internet retailers start collecting state taxes in July if they had offices, workers or other connections in California.

Amazon had refused to collect the taxes and poured $5 million into collecting signatures for a ballot referendum challenging the law.

If Congress acts by next summer to settle the contentious issue of how online retailers should be taxed, that decision would override Amazon’s deal with California.

“It’s a safe harbor for up to a year,” Calderon said of the agreement he helped strike. “If they can’t get Congress to act by next July, then they will start to collect the tax in September 2012. If by chance they get Congress to act, then that would trump the state law.”

There was no word from Gov. Jerry Brown about whether he would support the deal. Last week he rejected an olive branch from Amazon that included the offer of opening two distribution centers in the state in exchange for being allowed to start collecting the tax in 2014.

“I’m concerned about anything that would reduce revenues going forward because we’re in a very uncertain economy,” the governor said last week. “We need more revenues unless we’re going to keep curbing schools, courts, corrections.”

Brown’s office did not return calls for comment Wednesday night.

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