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Advocates for the poor will urge Californians today to boycott Amazon.com until the online retailer begins collecting sales taxes.

Representatives of the Health and Human Services Network of California will hold a news conference at 10:30 a.m. on the Capitol's north steps asking state residents to close their Amazon.com accounts until the company stops fighting a law intended to force online retailers to collect California sales taxes.

The group will be joined by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland.

The Seattle-based retailer ponied up $3 million last month to collect signatures for a referendum that would overturn Assembly Bill X1 28. Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers enacted the measure as part of the June budget deal to raise $200 million a year.

"We're asking people to think before they shop on Amazon and tell Amazon what they think," said Nancy Berlin, director of the California Partnership, which advocates for health and social service funding. "We don't have the kind of money and power Amazon does, but collectively we're asking our people and others in our community who share our values to put their money where their values are."

Amazon has not collected sales taxes on California purchases since the law was passed, believing the law does not apply because the retailer ended its relationship with California-based "affiliates" who refer customers to its website.

Ned Wigglesworth, a spokesman for the More Jobs Not Taxes committee pushing the referendum, said in a statement that the U.S. Supreme Court has held tax laws such as California's unconstitutional.

"Taxpayers could get stuck with huge legal bills just because the Legislature used more gimmicks to balance the budget," Wigglesworth added. "This law would hurt consumers at a time they can't afford to send any more of their hard-earned tax dollars to Sacramento."

Tax increases require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. Democratic lawmakers approved AB X1 28 on a majority vote because they said the law changed how existing taxes are collected. Under current law, residents are already supposed to pay a use tax on their out-of-state purchases.



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