Haslam Rule Freeze Chills Amazon Tax Dodge

The state Department of Revenue proposed back in December a new rule that apparently is designed to make sure Amazon.com doesn’t have to collect Tennessee sales taxes when it opens a new distribution center near Chattanooga.
Gov. Bill Haslam has declared his support for Amazon’s continued avoidance of Tennessee sales tax payments. But it now appears that a freeze on any new rules — ordered by Haslam shortly after taking office last month — has blocked the Amozon-benefiting rule from moving forward.
The development is reported today in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press (and the subscription-only Tennessee Journal). The department can’t officially say whether Amazon is impacted because of confidentiality rules.
From Andy Sher’s Chattanooga TFP story:
The proposed regulatory change exempts “any dealer operating as a distribution center” from collecting Tennessee state sales taxes if 50 percent of their gross receipts come from shipments on behalf of another vendor “to destinations outside this state.”
The proposal had been scheduled for a Feb. 25 public hearing before the Revenue Department, confirmed Revenue Department spokeswoman Sara Jo Houghland, who said departmental rules prohibited her from identifying what companies might be affected by the change.
Shortly after taking office, Haslam announced a 45-day freeze on new regulations as part of his “top to bottom” review of state government operations. (Note: Haslam said at the time he didn’t know what rules were impacted. It was earlier reported that another pending rule impacted Pilot Corp., which is owned by the governor and members of his family.).
But the move appears to have caught up the Amazon deal, which had been negotiated in part by the governor’s deputy, former Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey

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