Amazon.com Sues Texas for Sales Tax Audit

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Amazon.com worker David Brendoff, left, moves boxes with merchandise for shipment Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2005, at the Amazon.com fulfillment center in Fernley, Nevada. With the holidays just around the corner, many shoppers are relying on online sites like Amazon.com to complete their shopping. This facility, over 800,000 sq. ft., or roughly 13 football fields, is capable of handling hundreds of thousands of orders per day. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

    Online retail giant Amazon.com has filed suit against the state of Texas, demanding it produce an audit on which the state bases its demand for $269 million in uncollected sales taxes.

    The state made the demand of the Seattle-based company in September, citing the audit, the Austin American-Statesman reported in its online edition Wednesday. The newspaper reported the Texas comptroller's office has been withholding the report from Amazon, citing a Dec. 16 attorney general's opinion that it was protected by attorney-client privilege.

    The Texas attorney general's office referred all questions to the state comptroller's office. Comptroller's spokesman R.J. DeSilva said no papers had been served yet and declined to comment.

    The state contends that Amazon.com is responsible for sales taxes not collected on online sales in Texas because Amazon has a distribution center in Irving, a Dallas suburb. Other companies with retail outlets or other types of physical presence in a state collect sales taxes on online sales.

    Amazon filed the lawsuit Friday in Travis County state district court, contending that the state must disclose the audit under the state's Public Information Act.

    According to the court documents, Amazon sent letters in September and October to the state comptroller's office, requesting "Information related to the audit and the assessment."

    The online giant has been the target of numerous lawsuits filed by states seeking sales taxes on online purchases made from within their jurisdictions. Online competitors such as Dell Inc., J.C. Penney Co. and Sears Roebuck and Co. have complained about having to levy the sales taxes while Amazon does not.

    State Comptroller Susan Combs has estimated that Texas loses about $600 million in sales taxes each year from interstate online sales.