State Sen. Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington, said today he will introduce a bill Wednesday to exempt online retailer Amazon.com from collecting sales tax on sales to state residents for five years.
Setzler said a similar bill will be introduced in the House.
The bill would allow the state to recoup the deferred tax revenue if Amazon fails to deliver on the more than 1,200 jobs it has promised for the Cayce distribution center. The sales tax provision would also expire if Congress were to pass a law requiring online retailers nationwide to charge and collect sales tax.
Setzler said lawmakers will need Gov. Nikki Haley's help to get the bill through the Legislature, where some members have vowed to filibuster the incentives.
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Haley has said she opposes the incentive -- pledged by then-Gov. Mark Sanford's administration -- but would allow the bill to become law if approved by the Legislature.
"We've just got to get it out there and see what we can do," Setzler said.
Earlier, Setzler said Gov. Haley should take a role in negotiations to lure Amazon to Lexington, adding that failing to land the online retailer puts at risk the ability of the state Commerce Department to recruit new jobs in the future.
Amazon's Lexington distribution center could grow to 3,000-plus jobs. But it wants lawmakers to grant it an exemption from collecting sales tax on sales to S.C. residents. The incentive is opposed by a coalition of traditional retailers, including Best Buy and Walmart.
"We can't lift this giant by ourselves," Setzler said of the Legislature approving tax-incentive legislation for Amazon. "It's going to take some help form downstairs," referring to Haley's office on the State House's ground floor.
"We all have skin in the game," added Setzler. "We are all responsible."
Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt would have a difficult time recruiting jobs if Amazon backs out, Setzler said.
"He's got an untenable job if this deal falls through," Setzler said of Hitt.
-- John O'Connor