Gov. Scott rejects Amazon deal - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

Gov. Scott rejects Amazon deal

Posted: Updated:
TALLAHASSEE, FL -

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who has made job creation his top priority since coming into office, has rejected a proposed deal to bring major Internet retailer Amazon to the state.

After months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, Scott ultimately said no to a deal that would have led to the construction of at least one Amazon warehouse in the state and brought jobs along with it.

Amazon's arrival in the state, however, would have meant that Floridians would have to pay sales tax on Internet purchases made through the company.

Amazon wanted to defer collecting the state's 6 percent sales tax until next February or when its warehouse was open and occupied. The Seattle-based retailer has reached similar arrangements in several other states across the country.

But accepting the deal meant Scott could have been portrayed as being supportive of allowing taxes on Internet purchases shortly before he runs for re-election.

Scott, whose poll numbers remain low, has said in the past he could only support the taxation of Internet purchases if the money were offset by tax cuts elsewhere.

"Gov. Scott does not want to raise taxes in Florida, and we are confident Amazon will invest in our state because of our low-tax, pro-business jobs climate," Melissa Sellers, a spokeswoman for Scott, said in a statement on Thursday.

Scott during his time as governor has constantly pushed to use financial incentives backed by taxpayers to lure new companies to the state. Earlier this month, he touted a deal to attract Hertz in a deal that included more than $19 million in state and local incentives in order to bring 700 jobs, many of which would come from another state.

An initial deal pitched by Amazon back in early 2012 called for the construction of two warehouses in Florida and as many as 2,500 jobs. Sellers said that the most recent conversations centered on the construction of one warehouse by 2015. She said a job figure was not mentioned.

Amazon representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

Scott's decision also comes at a time Congress has been debating whether to allow states to collect sales taxes on Internet purchases their residents make with out-of-state companies. The measure passed the U.S. Senate but it has been opposed by leading Republicans including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. It is not expected to pass the U.S. House.

Currently, Floridians are supposed to pay taxes for online purchases, but there's really no way to enforce the law. The state can't force companies like Amazon to collect the tax unless it has a physical presence such as a warehouse or store.

When Amazon.com representatives made their first pitch to Scott and legislative leaders back in early 2012 the proposal drew sharp opposition.

One of the leading opponents was the Florida Retail Federation, which has a long-standing complaint that companies such as Amazon have an unfair advantage over traditional retailers because the online merchant does not collect sales taxes.

Several months ago, Amazon representatives starting talking to state officials again.

This time around the company was able to win over the trade group. Randy Miller, an executive vice president at the Florida Retail Federation, told the governor's office earlier this year that it could accept the arrangement.

"Our objection to that date initially is that it would have given them one more Christmas season without collecting the tax," Miller said. "But the closer we got to the date - and as aggravating as it is - we finally said 'ok, that's fine with us.'"

The latest deal appeared poised to go through because documents obtained by The Associated Press show that the Department of Revenue briefed the staff of Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater about the potential deal in late April. Atwater is one of four elected officials who oversee the department.

The Scott administration, however, as well as the department have refused to release any documents tied to its conversations about an agreement with Amazon.com.

The department contends that any information related to a "particular taxpayer" is confidential. A spokeswoman has said whether the "taxpayer" actually pays taxes is "not relevant" and the department can withhold all information that identifies a company.

Sellers confirmed the recent discussions late Wednesday.

"As a major company with the ability to make a significant economic impact in our state, we wanted to understand how Amazon could partner with the state in a way to create more jobs and opportunities," she said. Amazon worked with our office, along with other cabinet agency offices, to draft agreements related to possible changes in sales tax collection and the company's presence in our state. We were ultimately not able to reach an agreement."

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @wflatampa

  • NewsMore>>

  • Woman killed by stray bullet in Manatee

    Woman killed by stray bullet in Manatee

    Monday, July 28 2014 6:05 AM EDT2014-07-28 10:05:40 GMT
    A shooting was reported at the intersection of the US Highway 301 and University Parkway early Monday morning where one woman was struck by a bullet and killed, Manatee County Sheriff's Office said.
    A shooting was reported at the intersection of the US Highway 301 and University Parkway early Monday morning where one woman was struck by a bullet and killed, Manatee County Sheriff's Office said.
  • Automated car to take Scott for ride

    Automated car to take Scott for ride

    Monday, July 28 2014 5:12 AM EDT2014-07-28 09:12:49 GMT
    An automated car will take Florida Governor Rick Scott for a ride Monday, as Audi tries to sell the state on its latest technology.
    An automated car will take Florida Governor Rick Scott for a ride Monday, as Audi tries to sell the state on its latest technology.
  • Small plane crash on Fla. beach: 1 dead, 1 injured

    Small plane crash on Fla. beach: 1 dead, 1 injured

    Monday, July 28 2014 4:39 AM EDT2014-07-28 08:39:23 GMT
    A father was killed and his 9-year-old daughter critically injured Sunday while walking along a Florida beach when a small plane crash landed on the Gulf Coast only feet from the surf, authorities said.
    A father was killed and his 9-year-old daughter critically injured Sunday while walking along a Florida beach when a small plane crash landed on the Gulf Coast only feet from the surf, authorities said.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • 16 Old Wives' Tales We've All Heard

    16 Old Wives' Tales We've All Heard

    Wednesday, July 16 2014 2:11 PM EDT2014-07-16 18:11:56 GMT
    Here are some of the common old wives' tales that we still hear today.
    Here are some of the common old wives' tales that we still hear today.
  • PHOTOS: Savannah Woman Celebrates her 105th Birthday

    PHOTOS: Savannah Woman Celebrates her 105th Birthday

    Friday, July 25 2014 3:11 PM EDT2014-07-25 19:11:27 GMT
    On Friday, Mrs. Isabel Hansen Coons, celebrated her 105th birthday with a big bash at Summer Breeze Senior Living on Wilmington Island.Mrs. Coons was born in 1909 and has been a resident of Savannah since 1986. Staff at Summer Breeze Senior Living say she is spirited, competitive and full off insightful advice. They add that Mrs. Coons attributes her longevity to 'moderation.'Happy Birthday Mrs. Coons!
    On Friday, Mrs. Isabel Hansen Coons, celebrated her 105th birthday with a big bash at Summer Breeze Senior Living on Wilmington Island.Mrs. Coons was born in 1909 and has been a resident of Savannah since 1986. Staff at Summer Breeze Senior Living say she is spirited, competitive and full off insightful advice. They add that Mrs. Coons attributes her longevity to 'moderation.'Happy Birthday Mrs. Coons!
  • VIDEO: Intense gator battle at Odessa golf course

    VIDEO: Intense gator battle at Odessa golf course

    Friday, July 25 2014 10:56 AM EDT2014-07-25 14:56:27 GMT
    YouTube imageYouTube image
    An amazing video of two big gators locked in an intense fight might have you wondering how something so dangerous could happen at a golf course. A golfer shot the video using a cell phone
    An amazing video of two big gators locked in an intense fight might have you wondering how something so dangerous could happen at a golf course. A golfer shot the video using a cell phone
Powered by WorldNow

1336 Augusta West Parkway
Augusta, GA 30909

Telephone: 706.722.6664
Email: talkback6@wjbf.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.