SAN FRANCISCO -- (AP) Amazon.com Inc. wants California voters to decide whether to overturn a new law that forces online retailers to collect sales taxes there.
A petition for a referendum was filed Friday with the state Attorney General's Office so that voters can decide on the requirement, which was included in a state budget signed into law in late June.
The new law forces online retailers to collect California sales taxes by expanding the definition of having a physical presence in the state. The requirement now kicks in if an online retailer has a related company, such as a marketing or product-development arm, or affiliates in the state — individuals and companies that earn commissions by referring visitors to Amazon from their websites.
Passage of the law, which is projected to help the state collect an additional $200 million annually, adds California to a growing list of states that have turned to such measures in hopes of bringing in more tax revenue. Its legislature passed a similar law in 2009, but then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it.
Billions of dollars are at stake as a growing number of states look for ways to generate more revenue without violating a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibits them from forcing businesses to collect sales taxes unless the business has a physical presence, such as a store, in that state. When consumers order from out-of-state retailers, they're supposed to pay the tax that is due, but they rarely do and it's difficult to enforce.