State News

ACLU to argue for Amazon customers in N.C. tax case

Posted October 13, 2010 4:01 a.m. EDT
Updated October 13, 2010 9:34 a.m. EDT

— The American Civil Liberties Union says it’s fighting for privacy and free speech rights in a lawsuit pitting North Carolina tax collectors against Amazon.com.

ACLU lawyers will be in federal court in Seattle on Wednesday. They’re making the case that the North Carolina Revenue Department’s effort to learn what customers bought from Amazon would violate their rights.

The hearing comes in a lawsuit filed by Amazon to stop the tax agency from collecting information about buyers.

The Revenue Department says it doesn’t want details about what kind of books people bought, just whether the purchases were books, CDs or something else.

The state says either Amazon or its customers owe North Carolina $50 million in sales and use taxes on Internet purchases dating to 2003.

Amazon has said it provided the state with details about purchases without identifying which customer bought what. The company maintains that if it is required to turn over names and addresses as well, the state would be able to determine the buying patterns of customers.