Amazon’s support partly reflects its experience with expanding into states that charge a sales tax, such as Texas and California. Consumers barely noticed the tax, which was offset by lower shipping costs and shorter delivery times. And sales actually went up.
“Amazon collects sales tax or its equivalent in more than half the geographies where we do business, and our business is thriving in those geographies,” an Amazon spokesman, Ty Rogers, said in an email. “As analysts have noted, Amazon offers the best prices with or without sales tax.”
If anything, the sales tax provides an opportunity for Amazon that other online retailers aren’t comfortable with, said Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice, an e-commerce trade group. Amazon has developed software that helps the company pay the varying sales taxes, a service that it can provide to smaller online outlets — for a fee.
“Most medium and small providers will have to shift to Amazon’s platform to handle its orders because the administrative burdens will be too much,” DelBianco said. “But they’ll have to pay Amazon 10 percent to 15 percent off the top of any transactions.
“This is going to do to online retail what Wal-mart did to Main Street retail,” he added.
So why are tax incentives necessary?
Most likely because governments are fighting over the prospects of added jobs, analysts say.
Besides Hillsborough County, local officials in Ocala, Winter Haven and Jacksonville already have made it know they’d welcome an Amazon warehouse.
The incentives, Tilghman says, are “a way for states and local governments to say, ‘Pick me.’
“It doesn’t matter that Amazon doesn’t need them.”
Contact Michael Van Sickler at mvansickler