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BOE Member George Runner

Is The Bee a Tax Scofflaw Too?

The Bee’s latest rant against Amazon.com was heavy on rhetoric but light on substance. It accused the online retailer of being a dishonest “scofflaw” with “questionable ethics” for allegedly refusing to abide by the same rules as “honest retailers.”

Why only Amazon is singled out as a scofflaw isn’t clear. Like Amazon, thousands of out-of-state companies make sales into California each year without collecting and remitting sales tax. Californians are supposed to pay use tax on these purchases, but according to The Bee’s logic, these retailers are the real scofflaws for failing to do “good deeds” by collecting taxes they aren’t legally required to collect.

Does The Bee really think California’s retailers should collect sales taxes for 44 other states plus the District of Columbia even though the law doesn’t require them to do so?

And does The Bee’s parent company McClatchy out of the goodness of its heart pay sales tax for subscribers who live in other states? For instance, does McClatchy collect Arizona sales tax when one of its residents subscribes to a McClatchy publication?

Turns out McClatchy doesn’t even have a seller’s permit on file in Arizona. So all those folks who retire to Arizona and just can’t give up their subscriptions to The Bee or another McClatchy publication are supposed to be paying use tax – just like they’re supposed to for online orders from out-of-state retailers.

So by its own standard, The Bee might be a tax scofflaw, but I don’t think so. Just like Amazon, they are following the law.

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