Category: Amazon Tax

May 30 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: May 30, 2012

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Fallbrook, California

Good Wednesday Morning!

The California Legislature is in session.  Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

California Governor Jerry Brown will address County Supervisors.

Gov. Jerry Brown is scheduled to take his pitch for his compromise tax measure to the California State Association of Counties, whose members are in Sacramento today and Thursday for a legislative conference.

Brown is also expected to discuss his revised budget proposal at a luncheon scheduled at the Hyatt Regency across L Street from the Capitol, according to the program agenda for the event.

County supervisors will also be talking about realignment of health and human services as well as the end of redevelopment agencies.

Other listed speakers at the CSAC conference include Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Senate Republican leader Bob Huff, and Brown adviser Diane Cummins, all of whom address a general session starting at 8:30 a.m.

On to today’s California headlines:

The Board of Equalization is holding a public hearing on implementing last year’s Assembly Bill 155, re: Amazon Tax.

The Board of Equalization, meanwhile, is holding a public hearing on implementing last year’s Assembly Bill 155, the compromise legislation on collecting sales tax from Amazon.com and other Internet retail operations.

Alert readers will remember that Amazon agreed to drop its efforts to put a measure on the ballot in exchange for the state delaying collection of that tax until Sept. 15 of this year — that is, unless Congress comes up with a deal by July 31. (Capitol Alert is not holding its breath.) The meeting starts at 10 a.m. at 450 N St. Click here to read the agenda.

Romney Mines for California Gold in Hillsborough and Beverly Crest

While the Democrats have been busy mining Hollywood for campaign contributions, the Republicans’ presumptive nominee — La Jolla’s own Mitt Romney — will drop into both Northern and Southern California on Wednesday and Thursday for fundraisers thrown by some of the state’s GOP high rollers.

Thursday’s event is set for the art-filled Beverly Crest mansion of billionaire investor and philanthropist Tony Pritzker, heir to the Hyatt Hotels fortune. The 7:30 p.m. gathering is a dinner for the candidate with tickets going for $50,000 per couple. As with previous Romney fundraisers in Los Angeles, there likely will be a few Hollywood names and a large showing by the investment and finance communities.

Wednesday’s fundraiser is notable for site alone: The spectacular Carolands Chateau in the old-money Bay Area enclave of Hillsborough. Romney’s hosts include the home’s owners — Charles Bartlett Johnson, the billionaire investor and heir to the Templeton Franklin fortune, and his wife, Dr. Anne Johnson — along with former Secretary of State George Schultz and ex-California Gov. Pete Wilson.

The event’s co-chairs are a who’s who of the Northern California finance and technology elite, including Seagate CEO Steve Luczo, HP honcho and former gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman (who made her bones at eBay), Cisco director Brian Halla, private-equity chief Dick Boyce, Goldman Sachs’ Brad DeFoor, Pacific Private Equity’s Grant Finlayson and Romney’s one-time Bain Capital partner, Vince Tobkin.

Richard Riordan launches effort to court Latinos for GOP

Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan’s political moderation and penchant for reaching across party lines hasn’t always sat well with many of his fellow California Republicans. They’ve long derided him as a “RINO” (Republican In Name Only) and soundly rejected him for a more conservative pol when he ran for the GOP nomination for governor in 2002.

Now the wealthy businessman and philanthropist is playing the maverick again. He’s launched a campaign aimed at coaxing Latinos into the Republican fold — and he’s doing it without the state party’s involvement.

On Memorial Day, Riordan launched a radio ad campaign  under the auspices of Republicans Rebuilding California, a new political action committee he funded. The PAC will neither support specific candidates nor work with the party but is asking Latinos to consider “the Republican values: jobs, education and safety.”

Riordan has spent $43,000 on ads on bilingual and Spanish-language radio stations in areas where Republicans are in competitive races and there are large Spanish-speaking populations. They include Riverside, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and the Central Valley communities of Modesto, Stockton and Bakersfield, according to a spokeswoman for the new organization.

California Senate passes framework for sports betting

The California state Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved legislation that would legalize sports betting in California if federal law is also amended.

Senate Bill 1390, by Sens. Roderick Wright, D-Inglewood, and Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, would make such betting legal at currently licensed gambling establishments, horse racing tracks or satellite wagering facility. The bill would not make betting legal anywhere that does not already have a license.

Federal law now prohibits these wagers, but Wright said he believes it “will be amended.”

“When this law is changed, and we believe it will be, you want California to be in the position to move forward with this,” he said.

Enjoy your morning!

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May 29 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: May 29, 2012

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Mission San Juan Bautista

Good Tuesday Morning!

The California Legislature is in session.  Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

Friday is the legislative deadline for bills to emerge from their house of origin.

Both houses will be tied up with floor sessions all week, and no committees will be meeting. Today, the Senate convenes at noon, and the Assembly at 1 p.m.

How many bills are pending? Aides said last Friday that the Senate will be working its way through approximately 160 measures, while the Assembly has about 225 on its plate.

Bills to watch in the upper house include Senate Bill 1234, by Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles. This would set up a state-run pension plan for private-sector employees not covered by a retirement plan.

On the Assembly side, Assembly Bill 2312 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, would regulate the medical marijuana industry and allow local governments to impose up to a 5 percent tax on sales.

On to today’s California headlines:

 Most tobacco money California collects doesn’t go to prevent or stop smoking, study says

With California voters poised to vote next week on a tobacco tax hike, a new federal study concludes that the state has used relatively little of the billions of dollars in tobacco money it already takes in to prevent kids from smoking or to help smokers quit.

Between 1998 and 2010, just 6 percent of the money collected from a massive lawsuit settlement and from cigarette taxes went to tobacco interdiction and education programs, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week, far below federal spending guidelines for effectively curbing tobacco use.

The report has provided fuel for both sides of the pitched debate over a June 5 ballot measure that would more than double the state tax on a pack of cigarettes. The money would pay for tobacco-related disease research and anti-smoking programs and go to fight illicit tobacco sales.

College system braces for cuts

The drain of education dollars from the state’s community colleges has raised the specter of campus closures or receiverships, a state college budget officer says.

The comment came as the local colleges look at the uncertain fate of Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure on the November ballot. A defeat there could become a knockout blow for some campuses that have been absorbing cuts and dipping into reserve funds over the past three years.

All of California’s interlocked higher education systems — the University of California, the California State University and the community colleges — have been hit hard by the state’s fiscal problems, but community colleges perhaps most of all. Tasked with job training, remedial education and transferring students to universities, the schools receive less money per student than either the universities or K-12 schools.

If the tax initiative fails, Gov. Jerry Brown wants to slash $300 million from the 112-college system’s $3.7 billion budget. And, although he would give the schools $340 million from the dissolution of redevelopment agencies, experts say that money may not arrive in time for this year’s budget.

“I do think some districts are going to need state assistance,” said Scott Lay, president and CEO of the Community College League of California, an advocacy group. “I don’t know how many districts would be able to survive a reduction like that and the lost redevelopment money.”

Troubled districts likely would need to ask the state for emergency loans to keep the doors open, but California may not have money available for such emergencies.

Loan forgiveness program to recruit doctors has few takers

When the taxpayer-funded Peninsula Health Care District established a loan program to attract new physicians in 2003, officials promoted it as a way to address doctor shortages in parts of San Mateo County.

The program was designed to help primary care physicians cover the costs of setting up private practices or relocating to the district, which includes Burlingame and Hillsborough, two cities with some of the highest real estate prices in the nation. Doctors who practiced in the district for four or five years would have their loans forgiven.

But nearly a decade later, no physicians have completed the program. The district has not actively promoted the incentives, even after expanding it in 2006 to include other specialties. As a result, critics say, hundreds of thousands of dollars that could have financed community health programs has languished over the years.

“If there is a program that hasn’t worked for 10 years, you would think there would be a course correction, especially with so many dire health care needs in California,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, a consumer advocacy group based in Sacramento. “In the last 10 years, we had tough budget cuts to care for the uninsured and safety net providers. Given the district’s mission, it would certainly have been important for the district to fill in for the drastic budget cuts we’ve seen.”

Amazon may request tax sharing deal with San Bernardino

City officials are not yet formally negotiating a sales-tax agreement with Amazon as the Internet retailer prepares to open a distribution center here, but the company has broached the subject of tax concessions.

“We had one meeting, several months ago. This was mentioned, and it’s never been mentioned again,” said mayoral chief of staff Jim Morris, son of Mayor Pat Morris.

An Amazon spokesman, however, left the door open for the firm to seek a tax-sharing deal.

“We are evaluating various incentives routinely provided to other retailers but have made no decisions,” Amazon spokesman Scott Stanzel said.

Stanzel said he could not make any further statements on the record.

Amazon calls the facility a “fulfillment center,” a place where it would warehouse goods for delivery to online customers. The company is expected to occupy a 950,000-square-foot distribution center this fall at the Alliance California complex near San Bernardino International Airport.

The retailer’s move into the center, and another in Stanislaus County, is part of a deal Amazon made with Gov. Jerry Brown. The agreement calls for Amazon to build California warehouses employing at least 10,000 people on a full-time basis and 25,000 more on a seasonal basis by the end of 2015.

In exchange, Amazon received a one-year delay to collect sales taxes in California.

Enjoy your morning!

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May 21 2012

Amazon to Recapture Up To 80 Per Cent of Local California Sales Taxes?

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Amazon.com’s internet sales will be forced to collect California sales taxes this fall under compromise legislation passed last year.

But, now Amazon will be constructing fulfillment centers in California and making deals with local governments to win up to 80% of the sales tax back.

Such a deal.

Amazon.com Inc.for years has fought government efforts to tax e-commerce. Now it’s poised to pocket millions of dollars in sales taxes paid by California customers.

As part of a pact reached last year with state lawmakers, some online retailers agreed to begin collecting sales taxes this fall. About half of the projected $316 million raised in the first full year is expected to come from merchandise sold by Amazon, which is also setting up two California fulfillment centers that will employ at least 1,000 workers each.

San Bernardino and Patterson, where the centers will be located, will gain not only jobs but also a tax bonanza: Sales to Amazon customers throughout California will be deemed to take place there, so all the sales tax earmarked for local government operations will go to those two cities. It’s a windfall so lucrative — about $8 million a year initially for each city — that local officials are preparing to give Amazon the lion’s share of their take as a reward for setting up shop there.

Talks with Amazon about a so-called sales-tax rebate are still in the early stages. But in Patterson, a struggling Central California community of 21,000, Mayor Luis I. Molina said he’s ready to do what it takes to help his city.

As I said before, the only ones who will lose on taxing the internet are the California consumers themselves.

Now, some of the tax money, which was supposed to achieve “fairness” for the brick and mortar stores will be going back to Amazon.com anyway.

Only the Democrats in the California Legislature and lame-brained California Governor Jerry Brown could craft such a crappy deal for California consumers and taxpayers.

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May 04 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: May 4, 2012

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Paradise Falls in Wildwood Park, Thousand Oaks, California

Good Friday morning!

The California Legislature is in session. There are no California Assembly and State Senate Floor Sessions today.  Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

The Democrats are playing golf at Pebble Beach.

Today’s the first day of the 15th annual Speaker’s Cup, a two-day golf outing in Pebble Beach to raise money for the California Democratic Party.

Tickets start at $25,000 and top out at $65,000. The higher amount will get you in the door for both days, and includes golf for four, hotel accommodation, dinner for eight people, plus a spa treatment per day for each non-golfer or guest of a golfer. Those prices are even steeper than for the Pro Tem Cup held in March.

The Speaker’s Cup is being presented by AT&T, which has sponsored the event for more than a decade. Last year, it spent more than $225,000, and the swag included a new iPad delivered with a thank-you note signed by Democratic Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and AT&T’s chief of government relations, according to this Los Angeles Times report.

On today’s California headlines:

Jerry Brown says tax signatures in hand

Gov. Jerry Brown said this afternoon that he has collected enough signatures to qualify his tax initiative for the November ballot.

“We should have them all,” the Democratic governor told reporters after speaking to a business group in San Jose.

Constrained by a short timeline, Brown and his supporters raced to collect more than 800,000 valid voter signatures by early this month, relying on robotic telephone calls, mailers and payment of as much as $3 per signature for signatures gathered on the street.

The measure would raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California’s highest earners.

Brown’s remarks came just hours after Republican leaders assembled at the Capitol to kick off their campaign against the measure. Brown had no comment about the Republican effort, except to say it wasn’t news.

California GOP launches statewide political tour

Republicans want to be known as the “party of yes” in Sacramento. And one of the first things they want to do is convince Californians to vote no on Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed tax hikes.

“We think that’s the wrong way to go,” said California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro at a Thursday news conference outside the Capitol. “There is an alternative to simply raising taxes.”

Del Beccaro is launching an old-fashioned whistle-stop tour by riding the train around the state to push Republican policies. His first stops are Martinez and Bakersfield.

He was joined at the news conference by GOP lawmakers including Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) and Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway (R-Tulare). They criticized legislative Democrats for not pushing Gov. Jerry Brown’s pension proposals, which Republicans have endorsed.

DA Steve Cooley refiles perjury, voter fraud charges against Richard Alarcon and his wife

Citing serious procedural errors by the District Attorney’s Office, a Superior Court judge on Thursday threw out a felony voter fraud case against City Councilman Richard Alarcón and his wife.

An indignant District Attorney Steve Cooley re-filed the charges only hours after the court’s decision.

In a stunning, see-sawing day of legal filings, Judge Kathleen Kennedy dismissed the two-year old case, which alleged the Alarcóns lived outside their City Council district and lied on voter registration records.

The prosecution, Kennedy told attorneys, failed to present evidence to the grand jury that might have exonerated Alarcón. Moreover, key terms such as “residence” and “domicile” weren’t adequately explained to the jury.

“I don’t know if the Alarcóns are guilty or not of these particular charges,” she said. “But I don’t think exculpatory evidence was properly provided.”

The ruling ended a grueling legal battle – at least temporarily – for the veteran San Fernando Valley politician and his wife, Flora Montes de Oca.

Amazon to open Stanislaus warehouse

Fulfilling an unofficial pledge to California officials, Amazon.com said Thursday it will open a warehouse in Stanislaus County.

Amazon’s announcement comes nine months after the Internet giant settled a huge sales tax fight with the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown.

The company promised to bring 10,000 jobs to California over several years, and the warehouse in Patterson, about 17 miles from Modesto, represents a kind of down payment.

In announcing the warehouse, Amazon Vice President Dave Clark hailed “the support from Governor Brown and state and local officials.

“We look forward to creating hundreds of full-time jobs with benefits in Patterson when the facility begins shipping to customers in 2013,” Clark said in a press release.

Amazon didn’t specify how many workers it would hire. Rod Butler, Patterson’s city manager, said in an email that “we are expecting at least 1,000 full-time regular jobs, with several hundred more seasonal jobs during the holiday season.”

Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters daily video: Tax showdown looms

 

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Dec 01 2011

Amazon.com and eBay Take Their Online Sales Tax Fight to Washington

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You remember the Flap which was sort of resolved in California a few months ago.

Now, the conflict is being staged in Washington and in the Congress.

A Capitol Hill clash between Amazon.com and eBay complicates California’s hopes for an online sales-tax fix.

The fight flared Wednesday, underscoring how big differences between the Internet sales giants stand in the way of congressional efforts to help California and other states collect hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes.

Each side has its respective political champions, and each side wants small businesses exempt from the burdens of collecting state taxes for online sales. They diverge sharply, though, over what “small” means.

“We want to stand with the little guys,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, noted at a hearing Wednesday in the House of Representatives, “and the difficulty is, who is that?”

The Seattle-based Amazon wants a much more limited small-business exemption than eBay, which is based in Lofgren’s hometown. So long as the companies remain apart, they can’t put their combined weight behind an online sales-tax bill, versions of which have been floating around Congress for years.

The differences and the delays matter because the clock is ticking, particularly in California.

As I have said before, I don’t really think the various online retailers will be able to work out any legislative compromise particularly going into an election year. There really needs to be a national solution to the collection of state sales taxes for online businesses, but I do not foresee it anytime soon.

The federal courts may eventually decide the issue, but this will take many years and lots of expensive litigation.

States drool with anticipation of receiving a piece of the online sales tax pie, but to capture tax revenue from customers of companies that do not have a physical presence in their state, they will have to wait.

Is this fair?

I suppose it depends upon your business interests and your own TURF.

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