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Records committee releases some details of Amazon tax deal

By Ryan Morgan  |  Posted Mar 16th, 2017 @ 11:16pm



SALT LAKE CITY — The State Records Committee on Thursday agreed to release some of the information about an agreement between the state and Amazon for the online retailer to collect sales tax on Utah's behalf.

The committee voted to grant a portion of an appeal from the Libertas Institute, allowing the Utah-based libertarian policy group to see the first six pages of the agreement with identifying features and numbers redacted.

The Libertas Institute was quick to demand information from the Utah State Tax Commission through a public records request after the deal was struck in December. The tax commission initially denied the request.

The Libertas Institute appealed the decision, citing the impact on Utah taxpayers and an interest in knowing what incentives, if any, were provided for Amazon to start collecting online sales tax for the state.

"I would argue that the public interest outweighs whatever interest Amazon or the commission has in keeping it protected record because it affects so many of us, the way our taxes are collected and whatever incentives Amazon is given," said Spencer Salcido, a legal representative for the Libertas Institute.

Salcido added that the tax commission's responsibility to protect records do not apply to Amazon, which has no physical presence in the state.

The committee determined that information about the tax commission's "administrative decision" should be released, with certain information about Amazon being redacted.

Connor Boyack, president and founder of the Libertas Institute, called the decision a victory. The group intends to review the agreement to see if there are any objectionable portions of the deal, he said.

"We will have to see whether the exhibits that are being excluded are worth fighting for as well, or if the public is going to understand enough," Boyack said.

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