Amazon.com can begin collecting signatures to overturn California's new online tax collection law after state Attorney General Kamala Harris issued ballot language Monday for the retailer's proposed referendum.
The retailer and its online allies will have until Sept. 27 to gather 505,000 signatures to qualify the referendum for the ballot. Should it qualify, the state would have to suspend its new sales tax law until voters decide on the matter next June.
The law, Assembly Bill X1 28, was approved by Democratic lawmakers and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last month. It expands the definition of retailers required to collect sales and use tax on California purchases, and the budget relies on the measure to raise $200 million this fiscal year.
Amazon.com cut ties last month with 10,000 California affiliates who refer customers to the website. The retailer said that act was sufficient to avoid the new tax requirement, though state officials disagree.
Harris issued a ballot title and summary for the referendum late Monday, the last major hurdle for proponents. Secretary of State Debra Bowen must still issue an election schedule, but that is considered a perfunctory act.
Harris' move was not a certainty. Democratic lawmakers have suggested the referendum is illegal under the constitution because it would challenge a budget bill that took effect upon signing. Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon, D-Whittier, warned last week that the referendum would face a legal challenge.
The Democratic attorney general issued a statement Monday that said she acted "in accordance with her ministerial duties" and referenced a 1978 legal precedent.