Amazon.com will begin collecting sales taxes from its Texas customers on July 1 after reaching an agreement with Texas Comptroller Susan Combs.
Combs and Amazon.com said today the agreement will "lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs in Texas by the online retailer."
As part of the deal, Amazon plans over the next four years to create at least 2,500 jobs and make at least $200 million in capital investments in the state. And it will begin to collect and remit Texas sales tax on July 1.
The agreement resolves all sales tax issues between Texas and Amazon, Combs said. Amazon closed a distribution center in Irving a year ago due to the dispute over whether it should collect sales taxes in Texas.
The state's claim against Amazon was one of the biggest.
"We are a growth state and they correctly analyzed that," Combs said in an interview this morning.
Amazon approached the state "just a few weeks ago," she said. "It's a smart business decision. They know where their customer base is and Texas has been a large growth state and will continue to be."
The comptroller's office had estimated that Amazon owed the state $269 million in uncollected sales taxes from 2004 to 2009 and penalties. In addition to operating a distribution center that closed, Amazon owns Carrollton-based Woot.com.
Amazon has been making agreements with other states in recent months. But many of those settlements push their requirement to collect sales taxes out to 2014.
"I was very emphatic and insistent that they got their computers system up within 60 days," Combs said.
In a news release Combs thanked Amazon for moving forward and encouraged Congress to act too. "This is an important step in leveling the playing field in Texas; however, Congress should enact federal legislation that will give states access to revenues that are already due, which would resolve this issue fairly for all retailers and all state," she said.
Amazon hasn't responded yet to an interview request. Combs said she didn't know where Amazon would open their facilities. But she speculated that distribution center placement would involve transporation costs and where the highest sales tax collections occur already like the state's bigger cities of Dallas and Houston.
Here's what Amazon's spokesman said in the news release:
"Amazon looks forward to creating thousands of new jobs in Texas and we appreciate Comptroller Combs working with us to advance federal legislation," said Amazon vice president of global public policy Paul Misener. "We strongly support the creation of a simplified and equitable federal framework, because Congressional action will protect states' rights, level the playing field for all sellers, and give states like Texas the ability to obtain all the sales tax revenue that is already due."
Amazon had used the fact that it had no physical presence in other states as a reason not to collect taxes from its customers.