Governor Nikki Haley said she does not support tax breaks for online retailer Amazon, but she will not stand in the way if legislators pass them.
At issue is a new distribution center Amazon is building in Lexington County. In order to attract the company to South Carolina, officials under former Governor Mark Sanford promised they would make a “good faith effort” to exempt Amazon from collecting sales taxes on items they sell in the state.
Haley says she opposes the deal, since it gives Amazon an unfair advantage over its competitors.
This is not a fun situation to be in. We have a company that my predecessor and his administration worked out bringing to South Carolina. The problem is, in order to have them come, we would have to change tax policy. I do not believe it is good…to ever change tax policy in a way that you are picking winners and losers.
After the Legislature balked at the deal, Amazon threatened to stop construction–and its plans to hire 1,200 employees–if it doesn’t get the breaks.
Haley said she has nothing against Amazon, but thinks the deal gives the company an unfair edge over those already in South Carolina that are required to collect the tax.
I can’t, in good conscience, tell you I agree with this policy, because I think it’s bad policy. You don’t change the tax code to bring (jobs). Having said that, we are under an agreement…that was (made) by my predecessor. And we have to honor that agreement.
Haley said, if the Legislature passes the exemptions for Amazon, she will let them become law without her signature. She said she was not “punting” on the issue, since she would allow it to become law.
Several business groups, including the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, have come out against the exemptions, saying the state should not grant them to only one company at the expense of others.