Current law says companies with a retail presence in Arizona have to levy the tax. Efforts to expand that definition to include firms with only warehouses here were beaten back in the Senate by Amazon lobbyists -- twice. The proposal approved Wednesday by the House Commerce Committee seeks to sweeten the deal: The tax would be prospective only, meaning Amazon could escape having to fight a $53 million assessment from the state Department of Revenue for what it says are uncollected prior taxes. Mesa Republican J.D. Mesnard said this is virtually identical to what the Virginia governor negotiated there -- and could work here if Jan Brewer gets involved.
"Really, what this bill is is what has happened in other states," said Mesnard. "It's very generous. We're forgiving tax liability that's been thrown at them. We're making this prospective. And it doesn't even go into effect for a year out."
Brewer has so far shown no interest in similar negotiations here to resolve the ongoing dispute. And Amazon lobbyist Don Isaacson sidestepped the question of such a deal here.
Isaacson told lawmakers, "We are directly opposed to the policy that's embedded in this legislation. And Amazon has reached agreements in other states. That can't be denied. I just can't comment on that to this committee today."