Rumor Control: Amazon Taxes and Relocation

With the pending expiration of a tax-collecting exemption for the Amazon facility in Cayce, rumors are flying around the county that have folks pretty worked up.

Inside the Cayce, SC Amazon Fulfillment Center
Inside the Cayce, SC Amazon Fulfillment Center

Amazon must start collecting sales taxes on purchases made in South Carolina unless the General Assembly extends an exemption granted to the Internet giant when it located a distribution center in Lexington in 2011.*  The exemption was created – with great controversy – as an incentive for the company to build in Lexington County creating hundreds of full-time and hundreds more part-time and seasonal jobs.

With the exemption set to expire next year, speculation is rampant about what Amazon will do.  One rumor is that the company will just pull up stakes and move to a more accommodating state. South Carolina is one of 21 states currently hosting Amazon “fulfillment centers” and there are three of them in the Palmetto State: Charleston, Spartanburg and Cayce/West Columbia.  There are plenty of states, counties and municipalities that would welcome the opportunity to bring in an economic booster shot that offers 1,200 plus full-time jobs.

The other rumor is that Amazon will seek – and be granted – an extension to the tax collection exemption.

In pursuing the rumors – amid suspicions that they were begun and furthered for political purposes – Lake and Main went to the source.

Amazon spokesperson Kelly Cheeseman, responding to questions from Lake and Main, provided the following:

We are proud to operate in South Carolina and have no plans to leave.

We are not seeking an extension of the sales tax exemption law; to the
contrary, we are seeking enactment this year of federal legislation that
would allow tax collection on all sales into South Carolina.

We have more than 2,500 full-time employees in our facilities in South
Carolina and we created hundreds of full-time jobs in the state last year
that pay 30 percent higher than traditional retail jobs and offer a
comprehensive benefits package starting on day one of employment,
including company stock awards, bonuses and health benefits. We look
forward to continue creating great, full-time jobs in the communities
where we have fulfillment centers.