Amazon: No SC tax break means end to 1,250 jobs

By SEANNA ADCOX
Bloomberg.com
COLUMBIA, S.C.

Amazon.com Inc. is abandoning plans to build a distribution center in South Carolina because the state won’t give the company a tax break, taking the promise of 1,250 full-time jobs and $100 million in investment elsewhere, a company official said Thursday.

Amazon vice president Paul Misener said he doesn’t expect negotiations with state officials to resume after state representatives, on a 71-47 vote a night earlier, nixed a sales tax break sought by the Seattle-based company.

The online retailer had planned to open a warehouse operation on land provided by the Lexington County, which is near Columbia. Whether construction continues on the site just off Interstate 77 is no longer Amazon’s concern, Misener said.

He said $52 million worth of contracts were canceled after the vote and all job postings were pulled.

“The Amazon facility will not be an Amazon facility,” he said at the Statehouse after thanking legislators who supported the deal. “The 1,200 jobs and nearly $100 million in capital investment that were coming to the state, aren’t.”

The company sought a five-year exemption from collecting sales taxes from South Carolina shoppers under a deal brokered with the Commerce Department under former Gov. Mark Sanford.

Gov. Nikki Haley, also a Republican, opposed the break, as did tea party activists and a coalition of retailers that Wal-Mart helped organize, and which bought TV ads railing against it. They argued a tax break was unfair to local retailers that must collect state sales taxes.

Democratic and Republican legislative leaders had argued unsuccessfully that a break would cost the state nothing since South Carolina online shoppers don’t pay sales taxes now when they buy from Amazon. They say they fear the rejection will give South Carolina the reputation of not keeping its word and jeopardize future job recruitment efforts in a state still struggling with high unemployment.

Retailer opponents, who wore “Stand with Main Street” T-shirts at the Statehouse this week, praised the vote as a victory for small businesses.

State senators applauded the Amazon executive Thursday as a way to show their appreciation.

“We hope we can deliver for you one day,” said Sen. Nikki Setzler, D-West Columbia.

Misener declined to discuss where the distribution center might go.

“It will be somewhere. This is not a question of whether we’ll be building these facilities around the country,” he said. “It’s just a matter of where.”

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8 comments

  1. There were no “jobs lost.” The jobs weren’t here to begin with so how could they be “lost?” That’s the same logic that those stating that it didn’t matter if Amazon.com didn’t collect sales taxes since they weren’t currently collecting them anyway.

    Am I the only one who is bugged by the idea of these filthy rich mega-corporations coming into the state with not only the expectation but the DEMAND that they be courted and given special privileges in order to deign to do business here? Why should it be the business of anyone but those directly involved in selling the property, building the building, etc. necessary for them to open up a business? Amazon.com was acting like an arrogant bitch and got the slap in the face it deserved.

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  2. WorkingTommyC is dead on. What a bunch of pampered pricks to throw a tantrum for not getting preferential treatment. I say there is no loss for them not coming if they act like this. It’s time for government to get out of the business of using stolen funds to prop up crony businesses and trying to “create jobs” or “recruit companies” for the citizenry. Government needs to stay out of our way so that we can prosper and create jobs in the process… without using stolen tax dollars. I’m just angry as hell that the tyrants in the Lexington County Council already spent so much of my tax dollars to give the cry babies land and start building a building for them. I want a refund. Government has no right to intervene in the free market like this while using money they have stolen from me to do so. How much more criminal and immoral could you get if you tried!?

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  3. Unfortunately, this is what we’ve done to companies in this country: put them in the position of “negotiating” with state officials so they don’t have to be taxed to death along with the rest of us. Toward what end? No one’s income levels are going up, except lobbyists, consultants and a few bureaucrats. As for “job creation,” when did that, in and of itself, become the ultimate goal? Jobs are simply a means to an end. The real goal is the high quality of life that comes with prosperity, which can only be achieved through human innovation, drive and hard work. No one can plan the economy. We are wasting resources throwing money at companies to do what they ALREADY do – sell something, and hire people to do it. We should lower all SC taxes, from the manufacturing property tax to the personal and corporate income taxes and yes, even the sales tax! All of them. How do we “pay” for it? Easy. Cut spending on every program except those that are core functions of government. Does that sound impossible? It not only isn’t, it is far more possible and SO much easier to achieve prosperity through the free market than through a plan devised by politicians – THAT is what’s impossible, and what has never been done. Free market works. Always has, and absolutely will again if we let it….

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    • We could (should) also eliminate ALL tax exemptions. No free rides for churches, charities or non-profits. No deductions on tax returns for mortgages, dependents, charitable giving, political contributions, age or medical circumstances, 401Ks or any of the scores of other loopholes and special circumstances.

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      • Absolutely! One tax across the board, same percentage for all — as long as it’s LOW….Only fair way to do it. Otherwise, you have redistribution of wealth courtesy of our benevolent rulers…..

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  4. Our legislators have been cutting special deals for individual firms for generations and SC is 46th in the nation in per capita income. That’s really working well for us isn’t it? Support the SC FairTax Act (H 3993 in the SC House and S 0274 in the Senate) to end targeted tax breaks for connected companies at the expense of the rest of the taxpayers!

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