Amazon said this week that it would push a voter initiative in California that could eliminate sales tax for virtual sellers with only a modest physical presence in the state. Its move instantly escalated the company's long-running battle with many states over collecting sales tax, taking the question directly to voters. And it has sharply intensified its dispute with physical retailers like Wal-Mart Stores and Target, which have vowed to fight the measure.
Some political science and business professors say the conflict could take on the polarizing nature of Proposition 13, a decades-old referendum that limited property tax increases and remains a lightning rod in the state. Political experts say Amazon's proposed referendum is likely to gather signatures necessary to appear on the ballot as early as next February.