Amazon: associates program in California to be terminated (Update: Gov. signs tax law)

Amazon announced today that its Associates program is to be terminated in California, in response to a new sales tax bill there. The move appears to be pre-emptive hardball to try and avert the bill being signed into law. UPDATE: Gov. Jerry Brown has signed the law. Here's the text of an open letter mailed to associates:
Hello, For well over a decade, the Amazon Associates Program has worked with thousands of California residents. Unfortunately, a potential new law that may be signed by Governor Brown compels us to terminate this program for California-based participants. It specifically imposes the collection of taxes from consumers on sales by online retailers - including but not limited to those referred by California-based marketing affiliates like you - even if those retailers have no physical presence in the state. We oppose this bill because it is unconstitutional and counterproductive. It is supported by big-box retailers, most of which are based outside California, that seek to harm the affiliate advertising programs of their competitors. Similar legislation in other states has led to job and income losses, and little, if any, new tax revenue. We deeply regret that we must take this action. As a result, we will terminate contracts with all California residents that are participants in the Amazon Associates Program as of the date (if any) that the California law becomes effective. We will send a follow-up notice to you confirming the termination date if the California law is enacted. In the event that the California law does not become effective before September 30, 2011, we withdraw this notice. As of the termination date, California residents will no longer receive advertising fees for sales referred to,, MYHABIT.COM or Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned on or before the termination date will be processed and paid in full in accordance with the regular payment schedule. You are receiving this email because our records indicate that you are a resident of California. If you are not currently a resident of California, or if you are relocating to another state in the near future, you can manage the details of your Associates account here. And if you relocate to another state in the near future please contact us for reinstatement into the Amazon Associates Program. To avoid confusion, we would like to clarify that this development will only impact our ability to offer the Associates Program to California residents and will not affect their ability to purchase from,, MYHABIT.COM or We have enjoyed working with you and other California-based participants in the Amazon Associates Program and, if this situation is rectified, would very much welcome the opportunity to re-open our Associates Program to California residents. We are also working on alternative ways to help California residents monetize their websites and we will be sure to contact you when these become available. Regards, The Amazon Associates Team
The move follows similar shutdowns in other states, most recently Arkansas and Connecticut, where similar laws have been enacted. A similar bill is under consideration in Tennessee. California, however, is by far the largest U.S. state and represents an enormous revenue source for Amazon and associates. Headquartered in Seattle, Wa., Amazon says it should not have to collect sales tax in states where it has no physical presence. States want a cut of sales with a local connection, however, and Amazon's associates system blurs the location of economic activity in a way that looks mighty fat to the taxman. Who is making the sale? Where does the sale occur? And so on. Amazon chief Jeff Bezos has called for federal legislation that determines the issue once and for all.


  1. I’m confused. You have to pay sales tax on online purchases anyway, even if they’re not charged upfront. Isn’t the way the law wants to do things much, much easier for the consumer?

    1. @Alvis – you’re right, CA residents buying from an out-of-state retailer are supposed to pay “use tax” (identical to sales tax) on those purchases. Of course, who actually bothers to? Hence the pending CA legislation. It WOULD make it easier for customers to comply with the law, which nobody currently does.

      However, @GreenJello is right too. I’d love for anyone to explain to me what relevance at all sales tax has to the Amazon Affiliate program. It seems purely like a move by Amazon to rile up its base in opposition to the law.

      1. My best take:
        It has to do with the California affiliates because the current sales tax law requires that a company have “agents” in the state in order for that state to charge sales tax.

        The affiliates used to not be considered agents, if the law passes they will be considered agents.

        Amazon will try to dodge the law, if it passes, by ending the relationship.

    2. Does anyone actually voluntarily pay online sales taxes? Seriously?

      To be honest, I sympathize with California. However, they’ve been letting mail-order companies get away with this forever. Yes, Amazon is sucking retail business from your state, but so did Sears.

    3. Yes, but insanely complicated for the retailer. If this is required of online retailers, they could end up having to comply with sales tax laws in all 50 states. This is very complicated just at this level, as sales tax laws vary widely from state to state. Ohio, for instance, levies sales tax at the county level, whereas Pennsylvania has no sales tax on clothes, etc. etc.

    4. Shh… you’re not supposed to mention the fact that everyone in the U.S. is obligated to pay sales tax on all purchases, whether online or in store, whether the taxes are collected by the company or not.

  2. Good for California. It’s ridiculous that states are going broke while billions of dollars worth of internet sales are going untaxed.

    So, as an act of retaliatory spite Amazon is ending its Associate program.

    Big wow.

    I’ve been with it for three years and have never made a frigging cent.

    1. Amen. I have a site that is perfect for finding books, does over 1 million page views per month, and I’ve sent I don’t know how many thousands of click thrus to Amazon every year for the past five years, and I think it pays thirty or forty dollars per year.

    2. California isn’t going bankrupt because they aren’t collecting enough taxes from online retail. They are going broke because of their totally incoherent and insane fiscal situation, pouring out rivers of money every which way, paying outrageously generous public pensions (50 year old policemen ‘retiring’ with 100k a year pension, often to take another job elsewhere and get paid for both), etc.

      Sure, if they increase their revenue, nickel and dime the taxpayers so that they can patch it over for another couple years. But unless they fix the underlying problem of out of control growth in spending, it will be an exercise in futility, and in a couple years they’ll be right back in the same position.

      1. Yep cops, teachers and public workers created the country’s fiscal crisis……

        The warmongers, Wall St. fraudsters, corporate (and individual wealthy) tax cheats love you. There’s more than enough money to cover budgets, it’s all just going to the top 1% The reffal curve…..

    3. States have brought about these types of lawsuits for years and years against mail-order and now internet businesses, going back 20 – 30+ years, in the 1,000’s of lawsuits and each time, the states lose. The supreme court has said countless times that a state cannot collect tax from outside its borders. The law is pretty straight forward and simple. When Amazon claims these new laws are unconstitutional, that’s exactly what they are. unconstitutional. In fact, several studies have already been done that prove states putting these laws on the books actually lose money, not make money. It’s pure greed by states that already have a well established track record for mismanagement, greed and corruption at all levels of that states government. Amazon is clearly in the right here. People like you do a severe disservice to the general public at large by commenting on matters outside the realm of your understanding. Please, educate yourself. A state will never ever have the right to charge tax outside it’s borders. There are only so many ways the supreme court can tell states this regardless of any unconstitutional laws they may try and pass.

    4. That’s odd, with nearly no work at all I have a steady income stream…

      Well, had… Now not only will California still not get Amazon’s sales tax, but California will now loose mine and every other associates income tax as well…

    5. What is ridiculous is the notion that governments can tax whatever they want whenever they want more money.
      What additional services will the state provide for this additional tax???

  3. I can certainly appreciate Amazon’s position here; taxing ecommerce is pretty inconsistent right now, and Amazon is bearing the brunt of it. I’m all for paying sales tax, but I don’t think that only a few companies like Amazon should be held responsible while others get off the hook. I think it’s time that we level playing field for the entire industry with a flat 5% tax going to the fed. That’d simplify matters, generate tens of billions in revenue for the US, and make local businesses more competitive as well.

    1. Yeah and cost tons of jobs in states that don’t rely on a “tax for nothing”. Realize not all states have sales taxes and companies small and big would spend tons of money [ie. cut jobs] to implement.

  4. WTF? []” a potential new law that may be signed by Governor Brown []….

    It sounds like Amazon IS cutting this program…..based…..on….


    MAY: Used to express POSSIBILITY

    Exit wordplay mode: [] a new bill, AB 28X, might be signed into law by Governor Brown []

    Why not just send out open-end-date pink slips stating if the law passes and when it becomes effective, THEN the program will be killed?

    1. @Palomino – that’s exactly what this notice says.

      “We will send a follow-up notice to you confirming the termination date if the California law is enacted. In the event that the California law does not become effective before September 30, 2011, we withdraw this notice.”

  5. Wasn’t this resolved last century (or even the one before that) in order to deal with mail order catalogs and the like?

  6. Does anyone know of a smaller independent seller of books/videos that has a decent affiliate program?

    I’d much rather my affiliate dollars went to them than be a pawn in Amazon’s political battles.

    1. IndieBound has an affiliate program that supports local, independent booksellers. Since I don’t appreciate being used as a pawn by Amazon, I’ve switched all of my affiliate links to IndieBound.

  7. The online sales tax suspension has been in effect largely to give online retailers an advantage in starting up businesses over brick and mortar firms. It was especially important in states like Washington, California and Texas where many of these firms were launched. The federal government has long opposed imposing taxes for online sales to keep American dot com firms competitive to overseas companies.

    But states, feeling the pinch of shrinking budgets, down economy and rising pension and health costs, are rethinking these bans and imposing rules requiring firms to collect the sales taxes. Under current law, purchasers are required to pay the tax, but hardly anyone does (it appears as a check box in your cart).

    The issue of larger online retailers like Amazon not processing sales taxes really is not that much of an issue since most brick and mortar firms have shifted to online sales and the majority of Americans now shop online.

    The larger impact is on smaller mom-and-pop retailers (Amazon’s Associates program for example) and virtually everyone else that sells something online, i.e. Craigslist, StubHub. Under the laws being considered by states like California, there are no exemptions for small businesses from having to report and process sales taxes. Hence a repeat of the headaches voiced during the healthcare debate when Obama was going to require 1099 filings for anything over $500 paid by small businesses.

    The paperwork load would be gigantic for everyone engaged in online commerce and that is what is driving most firms batty. The tax issue certainly cuts into competitive price points, but it also raises huge issues of what qualifies for tax collection (i.e. purchases made on mobile devices outside of where people live) how those collections are made (i.e. how do retailers verify payments made by virtual payment processors like Paypal that don’t require a physical address?).

    The implementation of these proposed sales tax proposals are pretty shortsighted and could lead to a lot of chaos unless they are better thought through and designed by state legislatures and tax boards with little to know expertise in online commerce and mobility issues.

    1. “The online sales tax suspension has been in effect largely to give online retailers an advantage in starting up businesses over brick and mortar firms.”


      The 1992 SCOTUS decision: Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298 essentially said for an out of state business to be required to collect sales tax it had to have a presence in the state, i.e.: nexus.

      And the decicion was in regards to a mail order company.

  8. It sounds like by their own admission, its much to do about nothing. If very little tax revenue has been gained, that means there should be very little impact on retailers; therefore, any job and income losses are from companies like Amazon overreacting.

    I especially like the fact they are dissing California for trying to make it easier for consumers to pay the taxes they are supposed to be. I love how capitalists always try and paint efforts to make people pay the taxes they already owe as new taxation.

  9. I don’t see where this is retaliatory. If the law goes into effect, Amazon can

    (a) hire lawyers and accountants to handle the rules and regulations on California sales tax law as well as buffer money for compliance oversight from the state, or

    (b) comply with the law by not having associates in California.

    As a Californian who gets a few bucks every month from Amazon, I’m disappointed that California is doing this, but I can’t blame Amazon for not choosing (a).

    1. “No more Amazon ads on any of my sites.

      I’m not going to advertise for a bunch of whiny babies who start emailing threats when they don’t get their way.”

      What are you smoking? This is a business decision, not “emailed threats”

    2. @ Jason said: “If you oppose the Amazon tax, here’s an open letter requesting a veto of the legislation. Simply tweet a link to and sign it yourself if you’re a California resident.”

      My affiliate income and store painstakingly created would be affected, but why should Amazon avoid taxes brick and mortor shops within CA have to pay?

  10. Good for Amazon. There were long periods of my life–decades, even–where I thought that if we could just get our act together, California government would be a decent thing.

    California, of course, responded by becoming worse and worse. Consistently near/at the top of the list in tax burden, consistently at/near the bottom of the list in business climate. California is not going broke for lack of tax money. California is going broke for lack of adult supervision.

  11. My guess is that Amazon has been wanting to do away with their affiliates program for awhile and this is just a convenient time for them to do it.

  12. Amazon can’t quit me, I just quit them! No more Amazon ads on any of my sites.

    I’m not going to advertise for a bunch of whiny babies who start emailing threats when they don’t get their way.

    1. OK, great. I’m starting a new small network of sites that will use amazon as a primary means of monetization. If you leave the market, you will make room for me.

      -Signed, somebody whose chief reason for not considering immigrating to California is because of the state’s poor business environment, high taxes, and exorbitant government spending.

      1. California, although horribly managed, is one of the states that’s bailing out the rest of the country. California puts more money into the federal coffers than it gets back. The state of Alaska, for example, is basically on welfare.

        1. It breaks down almost comically by red state/blue state. Red states getting more federal largesse in comparison to what they contribute, and blue states getting less.

  13. Jerry Brown is trying to squeeze money out of everybody and everything that he can so that he doesn’t have to face California’s only real problem – Prop 13. There are homeowners who are only paying a couple of hundred dollars a year in property taxes on half-million-dollar-plus homes because tax is on purchase price, not on value. Any politician who tries to repeal Prop 13 will be recalled and possible torn apart by a mob.

    1. I pay upwards of $7000 a year on my 830ft bungalow. Across the street, three houses owned by a single elderly couple – who don’t live in any of them, but rent them out – pay $700 a year. Because the law was engineering to “keep seniors in their home.”

      The problem here – which Proposition 13 illustrates as a symptom – is the direct democracy model in California wherein anyone can get anything on the ballot. An example would be a proposition stating that every Californian should be given $100 on their birthday. That would, of course, pass overwhelmingly! But then you’d have a massive deficit. Try passing a tax hike of $100 per person per year, and you’d never get it through. There, in a nutshell, is the problem.

      And of course, you get Prop 8, too.

      1. And if your birthday money proposition doesn’t pass…just keep putting it on the ballot until it does. Quite similar to the driver’s license exam here, if you think about it.

    2. actually, homeowners are not really the problem with prop 13. it’s commercial real estate. corporations live forever and turnover of commercial real estate is very low, so they are the true beneficiaries of prop 13. and when a company sells a property they usually roll into another one and keep the same tax basis via the 1031 exchange.

      if trickle down actually worked, california would be a capitalist utopia by now. are property owners passing along their tax savings to companies that rent their buildings? fat chance. they are pocketing the difference.

      the collapse of california is directly attributable to prop 13. we were sold a bill of goods. meanwhile, the republicans distract joe six pack with the illegal immigrant issue. it’s really a beautiful disinformation campaign, and it’s all going exactly to plan.

      1. Besides the tax issues, it has a stagnating effect on the economy because, in many cases, you’d be crazy to sell your property. In my brief and bitter stint as a realtor, I ran into many, many people who could afford the purchase price of a new home, but couldn’t get around the enormous increase in property tax that they’d have to eat. It deforms the whole state economy to benefit a small number of people.

      2. In reply to joeblough, the argument against Prop. 13 described the future of the state should the proposition pass and of course we have met that future. That was the first time I was old enough to vote but I considered the source (wealthy Republicans) and understood what impact the loss of revenue would have on our state. In the following 30+ years the image of the Golden State and its wealth of opportunities via its once great educational system has withered and morphed into a state that is limping into the 21st century. Ex-governor, Pres. Reagan’s “Trickle Down” theory was his legacy to the rest of the nation. How’s that trickly-feely thing going, America?

    3. There are homeowners who are only paying a couple of hundred dollars a year in property taxes on half-million-dollar-plus homes because tax is on purchase price, not on value.

      You neglect to mention that these people would have had to held their property for decades in order for this to happen and effectively, letting property taxes rise unbounded would force poor and retired people to move any time their neighborhood became gentrified.

      My problem with prop 13 has to do with commercial and rental properties. If you’re in a position to charge more rent, then there is little reason not to uncap property taxes except for occasional rent control issues.

      If you *live* in your home, I think prop 13 is fine.

      1. I’m sure that California could come up with some middle-ground algorithm that apportioned taxes in a more equitable fashion without tossing old people into the gutter. My mother in Massachusetts managed to keep her home from when she bought it for $16K in 1957 until she died in 2000, when it was worth $200K. And most of the neighborhood was still the people that I grew up with, who were then in their 70s or 80s. It’s unfair for the Smiths to pay $500 a year in taxes, because they bought it decades ago, when the Jones pay $5K annually for exactly the same house. It’s not like the Smiths have stopped using public services.

        1. It’s unfair for the Smiths to pay $500 a year in taxes, because they bought it decades ago, when the Jones pay $5K annually for exactly the same house. It’s not like the Smiths have stopped using public services.

          I’m not elderly, or poor, or on a fixed income. But consider my situation:

          We bought a house barely a decade ago, just before the recent great real-estate bubble took off. In about 7 years, the price of comparable houses in my neighborhood tripled.

          Despite the great increase in prices, the value of my house remained the same: Its value, to me, is that it’s a decent house in a nice neighborhood near the studio where my partner works.

          If I’d sold my house at the peak of the bubble, it would have sold for the (then-current) price of a decent house in a nice neighborhood near the studio. So what it was worth – its actual value – was exactly the same, despite the change in price.

          If I’d sold my house then, but wanted to continue to have a decent house in a nice neighborhood near the studio, it would have cost about the same as the (hugely inflated) price I would’ve gotten. So its value didn’t change at all.

          Now, just a couple of years later, comparable houses are selling for about half to two-thirds what they were at the bubble’s peak. If I sold my house today, that’s what I’d get for it. And that would still be just enough to buy to buy a decent house in a nice neighborhood near the studio. So, again, its value remains exactly the same.

          The only way I could ‘extract’ any ‘value’ would be by giving up my decent house in a nice neighborhood near the studio and settling for something less.

          (And please, don’t anyone start with that ‘extract value with a home-equity loan’ crap. That’s a loan. I already have enough to credit to get loans of more money than I can afford to repay. I don’t need to hock my house to make that happen.)

          And gosh knows the price of city services didn’t triple in that seven-year interval. Nor drop by half in the couple of years since.

          Is it ‘fair’ that my neighbor two houses down is paying three times as much property tax as I am? Well, he spent three times what I did on his house. If I’d had to pay triple my original price, I wouldn’t have – I wouldn’t have been able to afford it.

          So the property tax is pegged to what you can afford to spend on a house, just like the sales tax on your car is pegged to what you can afford to spend on a car. Even if the prices of cars go up later.

          As others have said, the real problem with Prop 13 is the “immortal-owner-corporation” shenanigans that keep commercial property taxes from from rising, even when the property actually does change hands.

          Perhaps there needs to be some more realistic way of adjusting residential taxes for long-time owners, but basing taxes on the insane fluctuations of speculator-driven housing price bubbles – which bear no real relationship to actual value (and which recur with reliable regularity) – isn’t going to fly – and for very good reason.

          1. Is it ‘fair’ that my neighbor two houses down is paying three times as much property tax as I am? Well, he spent three times what I did on his house.

            The fact that your neighbor is paying triple what you’re paying for the exact same thing just because you bought 7 years earlier is mala in se. All the arguments in favor of this gross inequality under the law are just glib-flavored frosting on a tax-evasion cake.

            So the property tax is pegged to what you can afford to spend on a house, just like the sales tax on your car is pegged to what you can afford to spend on a car.

            Car prices don’t triple in a couple of years. Cars cost less than 10% of what houses cost in California. Housing and transportation are at very different places on the continuum of necessity. Your property tax is annual and eternal until you change properties. The comparison doesn’t hold up.

            If California taxes were applied with some measure of fairness, your taxes would go up, but they shouldn’t triple. I know that you really don’t want to pay anymore property taxes, but other states do it on assessed value and they’re not constantly teetering on the brink of default. Objections to Prop 13 are California’s special version of the commies/terrorists/boogey-man. Other states manage just fine.

      2. > My problem with prop 13 has to do with commercial and rental properties.

        but see, that was the *purpose* of prop 13. they sold it to the public with horror stories about grandma not being able to pay the property taxes, but really what they were after was freezing property taxes on commercial real estate. before prop 13 commercial real estate was > 50% of the total property tax revenue – i think it was a 45/55 split. now the situation is reversed.

        if they really wanted to help grandma they would have pushed for a law that helped out fixed income seniors. but instead they lied so they could effectively stop paying property taxes.

    4. Prop 13 did three things – Froze property taxes for people who stay in their homes, required a 2/3 majority of the legislature to raise taxes, and required a 2/3 majority of the legislature to pass a budget. Since California normally has a strong but not 2/3 Democratic majority in the legislature, the latter two parts result in lots of game-playing every year, with both parties finding ways to increase spending without “raising taxes”, whether it’s by putting more people in jail or building an employee pension system that’s underfunded and easily gamed or whatever.

      Sales taxes and property taxes are both regressive, and take money from people after you’ve already taken their income in income taxes, which means they disproportionately affect retired people. Some of the whining that California politicians do about how awful Prop 13 and the Constitution’s Interstate Commerce Clause are is because they limit the total amount of money the state can get from those sources.

      But the loudest whining is because California has a complex system for dividing up local and state tax revenues between the state, cities, and counties, and whenever anything changes the proportions of who gets the money, _somebody_ is getting less than what they think their fair share is, or less money than they got last year. Housing bubble? Technology boom that lasts a couple of years and then ends? Sudden unemployment increase? Local governments that increase their spending during a windfall and then whine about having to cut all those now-critical programs when the windfall ends? We get all of that, especially when the government’s dumb enough to increase the spending after the windfall has already ended (like the early 2000s, after the dotcom bust.)

    5. But the whole point of Prop 13 was to stop gentrification of city and towns. It protects fixed/low income people from being forced to move from their homes because their property tax kept rising faster than their income rises. This is especially true in the bay area where housing prices are still way higher than the rest of the state. If there is no prop 13, most seniors or lower income people will be forced to sell their homes because they can no longer afford to pay the property taxes.

      1. If there is no prop 13, most seniors or lower income people will be forced to sell their homes because they can no longer afford to pay the property taxes.

        You’ve swallowed the lie. This hasn’t happened in states that tax property based on assessed value. So why would it happen in California?

  14. I’m not sure how I feel about this law.

    I have no opinion on amazon’s claim as to it’s constitutionality. It boils down to a question of whether online sales count as interstate commerce, which is hardly simple.

    OTOH, I *do* realize basically no one pays their use tax, and that this is bad for states who rely on sales tax for part of their budgets. I, for one, would like it if online retailers would collect sales tax on all purchases. For the big guys like amazon this would be trivial. It would only be a problem for smaller retailers that do only a little online business.
    Is there any commercially (or freely) available software that automatically provides(based on zip code?) the sales tax rate? How much paperwork would be involved for, say, a Texan business that collected $25 in sales tax a year for the state of Nebraska?

  15. This already went happened here in Illinois, there were arguments about it online at the time, Amazon dropped affiliates (so did and I’ve not a peep really since.

    1. Illinois passed a similar law. I have friends who work for two competing online coupon websites. One of them told me that they run about 30 affiliate marketing programs, roughly 29 of which terminated all of their affiliates inside Illinois.

      So a company that employs about 50 people now has a choice to make: just watch that revenue drift into the sunset or set up shop in another state where there is no such law.

      Either way, Illinois is losing revenue on payroll and corporate income in a useless effort to strongarm Amazon into collecting their sales tax for them.

      Here’s what Amazon’s Bezos says: “Our point-of-view on this is that we should simplify the sales tax system, and we’ve been insisting on this for 10 years. We support the streamlined sales tax initiative, and 22 states have signed on. The right way to fix this is with federal legislation. Sales tax is very complicated. We’re no different from big chains of retailers. They don’t collect sales tax in states where they don’t have nexus either. So everyone is following the same rules.”

  16. Good for Amazon.

    They are fighting a raving mob who is drowning in debt of their own making trying to hang on for another few minutes by stealing a portion of someone else’s money, while claiming their theft is righteous.

    The lawmakers should cut out the middle man and just vote everybody in the state rich then they can pick the wealth from the tree where they think it grows.

    1. How is this theft? The state is simply trying to collect money already owed to them by law but rarely collected. Merchants already collect sales tax at point-of-sale systems, and I’m sure when it was first put into law people whined about how hard it was going to be on the companies. Now it’s completely expected any point of sale system includes the ability to collect sales tax. Why should online companies get a pass? As far as I know, the tax itself is passed on to the consumer, so the compan is only on the hook for costs related to upgrading their systems. They then lose their unfair advantage over local business, which is what this is really about: It will affect their ability to undercut the competition.

  17. The reason for cancelling the affiliates program is because California is saying that having Amazon ads on a blogger’s site, when the blogger lives in California, somehow makes that a “local sale” and should be charged sales tax.

    I don’t pay sales taxes when I buy from L.L. Bean online, because they don’t have a store in California either.
    Ditto for ordering from Wireless, or any other catalog store that doesn’t have physical stores in my state.

    They don’t collect sales tax because Federal law says they don’t have to. The Supreme Court, in 1992, interpreting Congressional law, said so too. Yes, they did it to help a fledgling industry get it’s feet on the ground, but that doesn’t change the fact that Congress and the Supremes took the matter out of the states’ hands.

    In California, there are 1700 jurisdictions that charge their own tax rates.
    Of course, most of them break down to 5 or 6 different rates, but still, a merchant has to keep track of them all? Multiply that by 50 states.

    If Amazon has to collect sales tax, so does every small t-shirt or pen or jewelry maker in the country. When I buy jewelry from a little shop I know in Raleigh, N.C., I don’t pay sales tax there either. Is every person who sells anything on the internet (or by mail order) supposed to track tens of thousands of sales rates?

    Based on what… shipping address? What if I live in Oregon, which doesn’t have sales tax, and am buying something for my mother in California, which has 1700 sales tax lookups?
    Billing address? Fine, I’ll do what corporations do, and get a mailbox in a tax-free state for billing my credit card.
    We don’t make laws that only apply to big companies.


    1. In California, there are 1700 jurisdictions that charge their own tax rates.
      Of course, most of them break down to 5 or 6 different rates, but still, a merchant has to keep track of them all? Multiply that by 50 states.

      Amazingly enough, there’s software out there that handles all that. Any company that does physical business already needs to be on top of the complex tax code. Asking a technology company that made $200 million in net income this past quarter to keep track of those same regulations is not impossible.

  18. wondermark @5: It pretty much is just a “go complain to your government” thing, but the reasoning behind it is that if Amazon is paying people here, then they are doing business here, and thus have to handle sales tax.

    Antinous: the people who have not sold their houses for 30+ years are not the problem — there’s enough turnover in the housing market to mostly deal with that. The real problem is that businesses are also covered under that, and there are many, many, many more corporations that exist solely to lease property they purchased decades ago at current market rates than those hypothetical homeowners. That would be the sanest change to Prop 13, but, sadly, it’ll never happen.

  19. So what is Amazon going to do once every state has enacted this legislation? Move the company overseas? How patriotic of them to try to avoid charging what every other company that does business has to charge.

  20. Our small business sells a lot of books on Amazon. But Amazon will not allow me to charge tax to California residents. So, when I sell to someone in California (my state) I have to pay the sales tax myself out of the retail price.

    At least on eBay (and on our own store, of course), I can define the sales tax parameters.

    State sales tax has become a terrible debacle. It creates terrible inefficiencies with people ordering stuff from across the country to avoid the tax. It’s really rough on local businesses.

    We should develop a national consumption tax that gets distributed back to the states.

  21. One has to look at what justifies the concept of a Use Tax in the eyes of the State. Did any wear and tear on any State services occur as a result of buying something online? If not, I don’t see the justification.

    (Granted, UPS trucks use the roads, and airplanes use the sky, and trains use the rails, but all those transportation services pay taxes on land, vehicles, etc already, so that is already covered).

    Sales Tax is similarly just an idea someone had about how to let the State steal a bit of the profits. A little mafia-esque profit sharing.

  22. Wow. What a bag of assholes.

    So, Taxes are now a reason not to even bother trying to do business anymore?

    I wonder if Amazon realizes that even the Republicans are beginning to call attempts to slow the economy in order to avoid taxes, Treason.

    It is, you know.

    1. “even the Republicans are beginning to call attempts to slow the economy in order to avoid taxes, Treason.”

      I don’t know what world you’re living in, but it’s not this one. The GOP platform is based on avoidance of taxes.

  23. States like California thought that by taxing everyone and wasting them away will solve their problems. Had taxes in California been fair enough to keep consumer prices down, there won’t even be much needs to shop at Amazon.

    If the state want to recover their tax revenues, they have better results sending tax collectors to where illegal immigrants set up their lucrative front yard sales. There no sales tax collected there and prices are low. Best of all, profits are send across the border, so no federal revenue either. With free school, food stamps, cash wages no wonder they come by the truck loads.

    Locally established businesses can’t even compete, they have to pay for permits, bullcrap taxes, fees, inspections, workers comp and other nonsense setup by the government to discourage doing business. And the officials wonder why businesses ran away to Texas as fast as they can move?

    I surely hope they keep raising the goddamn taxes in that states and drive anyone with enough senses to move out of that state by the droves and leave the idiots comfortably paying their beloved double or quadruple taxation scheme. Want the weather? Disneyland? Just go and visit. Much cheaper than having chunks of your income constantly being chomped away by taxes and fees.

    If you have entitlement mentality, don’t move anywhere. California is just perfect for you.

    California is the new Greece.

  24. Look like it’s time to get one of those snail mail remailer/forwarding services….in any of the other 49 states.

    It’s funny, if ever a law was made to have the opposite of the intended effect, this tax law would be it.

  25. Nobody should be sympathizing with California here. The problem isn’t lack of revenue, it’s just how incredibly profligate the spending got during the fat years of the middle 2000s. And now that the budget process is so entirely f#@$ed up (all self inflicted) the current budget is packed to the gills with completely fraudulent line items for income (wild overestimates) and spending (laughable underestimates).

    State legislators don’t get paid until there’s a budget, so now it’s personal. They can pass a budget with simple majority, but increasing taxes takes 2/3, so an already existing tax that’s incompletely enforced looks like a godsend to the jackals who are desperate to get their own salaries reinstated.

    Amazon’s not to blame for any of that, and California’s high sales tax rates shouldn’t be their problem. If California wants to get grabby, just don’t play.

  26. ** Update **

    Governor brown just signed the aforementioned affiliate nexus taxes into law minutes ago. They took effect instantly.

  27. The relevance is that California’s law states that the use of Affiliates constitutes a physical presence in the state. The Supreme Court’s Quill vs. ND decision said no physical presence, no sales tax collection by the retailer required.

    This is the same thing that other states are doing and why Amazon is pulling out of them, as well.

  28. It’s quite incredible how this might happen in the country that groks globalization better than any other.

  29. People want the stuff the states do for them, but they don’t want to pay for it. I’ve got no sympathy for freeloaders anywhere. Soon I suspect that every state will be requiring Amazon and every other online retailer to play by the rules, and good for them.

  30. I probably got on here too late to combat the mobthink, but I’ll try anyway. If you think CA taxes are insanely high and spending out of control, just take a look at the top 10 budget myths about CA:

    This bill is a win for California in every way. Not only does the state lose revenue when people buy from out-of-state retailers, but those retailers hurt the competitiveness of the state’s own businesses. People are effectively incentivized NOT to buy in state right now. That’s wrong, from the perspective of the environment and the community.

    Taxes bring us good things. You will not like everything they buy, but they are not nearly the albatross on our society that the “finance” industry has become. Those pensions are a pittance compared to the rents extracted from us by hedge fund traders and the like.

    1. Thanks for posting the link to the pdf. As someone who relocated to CA from TX (my native state), I can say my quality of life, net income, retirement account, and benefits have all increased dramatically. I get a healthy 5% raise every year and a 35% match to my 401k. My employer is a relatively small outfit that has been doing business in California for 30 years and has grown every single year. Rather than try to boost profitability by lowering salaries and cutting benefits, they have decided to invest in their employees. And this company is beating the pants off the company I worked for in TX in terms of quality of product and sales.

      California still leads the nation in technology and innovation and access to capital, so the “fleeing business” line is complete mythology. It also has a better quality of life than many other states, and, its tax rates are not nearly as ridiculous as some ridiculous people would claim.

      I’m happy pay a state income tax from my hugely increased salary to have great weather (68 degrees in Santa Cruz right now), the ocean, the best state and national parks in the country, paid family leave, etc., etc.

      I do miss Alamo Drafthouse, however.

  31. The problem with the CA law is that it tries to make up for the demise of a more or less progressive tax (the more your home is worth, the more you pay) with a flat tax. The idea of a progressive tax is that those who are most able to pay pay more.
    Rich Republicans like flat taxes, though, because they get to pay less. And as the old saw says, the golden rule is that those who have the gold make the rules.

  32. This is awfully disingenuous from Amazon considering how many friends I know working for Amazon in Palo Alto and San Francisco. Oh, sure, technically they’re just wholly owned subsidiaries called Amazon, but seriously, Amazon is playing games. I’m amazed that they expect to continue to get away with it. Sales tax discount isn’t what makes Amazon a better shopping experience. Play by the rules and do it gracefully. It’s just sad when the bully complains that he’s being picked on.

  33. Amazon also skirts the notion of “nexus” in the state. Amazon’s kindle is designed by a wholly owned subsidiary, based in Cupertino, but since it doesn’t sell them but “gives” the design to Amazon to manufacture doesn’t count. Amazon has warehouses in Nevada and elsewhere that ship materials to residents of California, owned by another wholly owned subsidiary, but since those warehouses never ship to residents of Nevada doesn’t pay sales tax there. Likewise, warehouses in California owned by other subsidiaries only ship out of state, thus insuring that they never have to collect the state sales tax.

  34. I think the CA law is a good idea, and I’m a CA resident who spends a good deal on Amazon. No one pays the use tax like their supposed to, so CA is missing a lot of revenue.
    That being said, with the current state of things, it is against federal law to tax like this. So it will be an interesting fight. It basically will come down to Walmart vs. Amazon in a lobbying fight to allow states to tax in this manner. Personally, I think the “nexus” requirement for taxation is a little archaic in the modern world–pretty much everything I buy besides food (and even some of that) I get online and mailed to me, mostly from Amazon.
    And for the commenters discussing Prop 13, I agree that something needs to be done. Maybe not a flat out repeal, but some compromised can be worked out.

  35. This isn’t a new thing for Amazon, so it’s not like they’re trying to get the troops riled up. The states which are passing these laws are using the Commerce Act’s provision that a physical presence in the state requires collection by ruling that Associates constitute a physical presence … which is a little shaky. But on the other hand, Amazon makes ample use of state-tax funded services in getting the goods to you so it makes sense to make them kick in for that.

    The problem with appealing to Congress to pass a federal law is that state sales and income taxes are exactly the kinds of powers assigned to the states constitutionally.

  36. I will certainly reduce my Amazon shopping if tax applies. Love tax-free and free shipping

  37. I would like to see the law that appoints any company or person to be a tax collector for the state.

  38. Amazon’s reaction is the most asinine and reprehensible thing possible in this situation. The state government of California wants more money from them, so they react by screwing over a bunch of little people who need that money much more than Amazon does. Their idea of defending their profit margin consists of stabbing their employees in the back. God damn Amazon. Their action in this is utterly contemptible and downright evil. I just added another company to my personal boycott list.

  39. As an online business owner, I’m really surprised at the comments about the use tax. We pay every quarter and are fully prepared for an audit. The one quarter we were late, we received a quick phone call reminding us to get it in or we’d loose our license. I’m not sure who all these businesses are that aren’t paying their use tax, but it will catch up to them eventually.

    In regards to paying taxes to each state you ship to, I spend at least 2 hours each quarter gathering my CA use tax records for those three reportable months. My software does not do this for me, and I have to manually sift through all my sales to add up the CA purchases and subtract the tax. Doing this for each state would be a nightmare. Yes, I suppose we could invest in software that does it for us, but our revenue wouldn’t pay us back for it fast enough. Why? Because right now we pay 50% of our gross sales revenue in taxes. That means for every product I sell for $2, our average price, we pay CA $1 of it. Even though we’re the ones who are picking up the inventory, sorting, cleaning, listing, packing the orders and working on customer service, marketing, data analysis, business paperwork, etc.

    I don’t believe online businesses discourage local sales at all. Our site sells a product that you cannot find locally. And if you could, it would behoove you to purchase it locally as shipping can be extraordinarily expensive, not to mention you have to wait several days to receive it. I think most people would rather run out to a local business to grab whatever item they are needing than to pay shipping and wait, unless they truly cannot find it in the area. Items I purchase on Amazon, or Etsy, or eBay, are often very specific and I’ve already tried to find them in the area. My guess is the business that would have carried them can’t afford to survive due to the previously mentioned taxes or has gone online to cut overhead expenses!

    My Amazon affiliate links have lived on a side education site I created three years ago-I bring in an average of $40 a month with our links. They were chosen carefully and I market them to a very specific audience. I spent hours and hours listing them on our site, trying to help teachers find the best deals for their classrooms regardless of where in the country they lived. Because of my state’s greed, those links are no longer working in our favor.

    Business owners, large and small, work VERY hard to keep the lights on. I don’t know that it’s fair to assume we don’t pay our use tax, or that we’re being lazy by not wanting to pay taxes out to each state. We don’t ‘steal’ business away from other business owners-customers go to the place that carries what they want for the price they want to pay. And Amazon was exactly right to do what they did-the state of CA needs to re-examine it’s priorities when it comes to how it treats businesses. If my husband wasn’t so nostalgic about living where he grew up, we’d be out of here.

  40. A little background first:

    Standard law on sales tax, in the states that charge them, is that businesses that have a physical presence in the state, even if the particular sale is fulfilled through an out-of-state facility, are required to collect and remit sales taxes.

    On the other hand, if you buy a new fishing rod from Joe’s Bait Shop in another state it’s up to you to follow the law in the state you live in and send in your sales tax equivalent (usually called a use tax). Joe doesn’t have to keep track of and comply with all tax laws in each and every state, county, city or other government jurisdiction that charges them.

    California is the 5th or 6th state that has passed a law which basically says that if you have affiliates who live in their state, that is sufficient to be considered a physical presence and the company is therefore liable for charging, tracking and remitting sales taxes.

    Amazon has done the same thing in each of the other states that have tried this sort of law. If they have no affiliates in the state the state then has no pretext to require sales tax collection.

    It has nothing to do with a “club” or threat being held over the head of California, it’s simply Amazon protecting their business from laws being aimed at them.

    Notice that it isn’t aimed at anyone who buys from an out-of-state source in general. Mail order catalogs and most smaller on-line businesses aren’t affected by it at all. It hits ONLY those companies that have an affiliate program. The big boys. Amazon. Overstock. eBay cancelled their affiliate program altogether.

    Way to go California. Wipe out one more source of income for your residents. Somehow they still haven’t learned that laws have consequences that they may not want or intend. Now instead of a new source of revenue for the government, existing revenue from income taxes has been lost.

    They’ll all be sitting there in Sacramento scratching their heads saying where did that money go? We were supposed to be MAKING (well, really taking) more money and instead have lost it.

    One extra note for the many I’ve read saying “Well it’s about time that Amazon started baying more in taxes” or the like. When you go to Sears, is the sales tax part of the basic price? No. It’s added to it, plus a bit of the base price is from having to cover the overhead of having to comply with those laws.

    Those taxes wouldn’t have been coming from Amazon, but from every Amazon customer in the state of California. Once again, another little way in which it costs more to live in California.

    The really sad thing to me is that I’ve lived in California. It’s a great state with an incredible diversity of places to go and things to do. The only problem I have with it and the only reason I won’t move back there is that it’s run by the government of California.

    ‘Nuff said

  41. First off, I’m going to suggest everyone read Paradise Lost. Not that Paradise Lost, but the book by ex-Sac Bee reporter Peter Schrag. It’s a great introduction to the screwed up mess that is California politics and Prop. 13.

    Next, there are a variety of solutions to address the problems:

    1.) Split roll such that Prop. 13 continues to apply to primary residences, but not to subsequent residential properties and not to commercial properties. Ideally this would help quell the type of speculation that drove the insane housing prices in many parts of California.

    2.) Index the cap on property tax increases to something simple (lest we forget the mess that is Prop. 95), or simply raise it.

    3.) Get rid of the fucking initiative process. It’s destroying California.

    4.) Get rid of the equally insidious super majority (which we almost did in).

    One of the big reasons I’d be leery of the federal government collecting state sales tax is simply from watching how the state of California manages local funds. Arnold raided transit funds religiously, Reagan’s unfunded community mental health care mandate, and Brown’s unfunded mandate pushing prisoners onto county sheriff’s departments. IOW, the state uses local funds as a free money for the taking. Does the federal government have a better track record here?

    Antinous et al.: Let’s not forget, either, that raising property tax will raise your overall tax burden by some amount less than the change in property tax. Why? ‘Cause you can typically deduct it from your federal income tax. IOW, raising the state property tax will essentially shift money back to the state budget and away from the federal budget.

    Let’s also not forget that municipalities will continue to find ways working around Prop. 13. First you’ve got your Mello-Roos districts. Instead of having a simple property tax collected by your county assessor, you’ve now got a property tax collected by the state and divvied out to the county and any absurd number of special districts with their fingers in the pie. How’s that for adding pork to the government?

    Then, take a look at cities like Colma and Daly City which fight tooth and nail for the big box stores. Why on earth would cities want giant retail stores? They create low-wage jobs, are eyesores, present significant challenges to locally based business, etc. If you look at the area where Colma meets Daly City you’ll find the Target across the street from the Target. Well… there’s more flexibility, and more certainty that you’ll get the funds back in sales tax than there is in property tax. Out go middle class jobs, in come the minimum wage jobs. Awesome.

    One word for Glen Blank: inflation.

  42. I buy from Amazon for convenience and selection even if it might cost a little more than some place that is cheaper but difficult to purchase from–like having to drive an hour to get there because they can’t sell online. Never once has sales tax had any affect on my decision to buy from Amazon (or anyone place else–some companies collect, some don’t). Even if Amazon did collect the taxes up front, I’m willing to bet they will still have a larger selection and maybe still have better prices than most.

    I really don’t mind paying a little more for convenience, selection, and quality (service and products) vs a few dollars difference because of taxes tacked on at point of sale. Most states require use taxes so you should really be comparing prices minus taxes anyway (tax due regardless of time collected). Granted not many people pay use tax and it is really unenforceable.

    Also the grocery store I can walk to because it is in my neighborhood has great selection and higher prices than the superstore I would have to drive to. I give the local store with higher prices my business because of convenience and selection. This also has the affect of supporting a local business–I feel good doing it. Wether they collect tax or not verses “super cheap store” was never even a thought.

    This “buying based on wether there are taxes or not” seems penny wise, pound foolish. I visualize people that use this thought process thinking: “Wow, no sales taxes on cars here! I’ll by a BMW instead of a Honda!”. Not saying they do that–it’s just the picture I get in my mind.

    Maybe I’m just weird.

  43. “Sales for resale
    All states exempt from sales or use tax purchases of goods made for resale in the same form.
    Goods purchased for free distribution may be taxed on purchase in some states, and not in others.”

    So… Do retailers just pass on their tax?

    There is a distinction in the law about what resale in the same form constitutes; But I wonder if these laws aren’t already tailored for the buyer to be screwed, or the government to double it’s profit.

    amazon pays for the goods it resells, so why would i also pay a tax for it changing hands? Also if a seller(thinking ebay) is paying tax, both to buy an item, then on the income when reselling it, then why too am I pay tax for receiving it to my state (ohio now requires you to pay taxes on online purchases)? This is ridicules.

    I’m all for necessary taxes. If the government needs more money to do necessary (;granted I’d love to actually have a voice [as I should] discerning what’s “necessary”) things fine, but tax me on that bases,
    Don’t squirrel it away within new things because you see an opportunity.

    Don’t create new powers you don’t need because you want something else.

    It’s just like how the imposes jurisdiction over state legislation based on the interstate.

    *needs to be law

  44. all the people complaining do realize that Amazon is trying to prevent the consumer from paying more right? Don’t local governments take property tax for local up keep too? If amazon has no local presence why should they be required to collect taxes from the consumer. Hell why doesn’t the government just collect it from you themselves?

  45. Its a simple issue of Constitutionality. States can’t interfere with (i.e. tac) interstate commerce. Only the Federal government has that power.
    Therefore California has no right whatsoever to tax an out of state business.

  46. A family member lost her job over this when amazon found out she lived in colorado even though the main office was in oregon.
    Amazon notified this online mom and pop operation that they would terminate all business with the oregon company if they didnt fire the colorado employee – because Colorado collects the same tax…so they fired her to be able to keep their business on amazon!

  47. Good job amazon. States need to learn that when they spend too much money and cry for more, businesses will not pay the bills for them. California is broke because we waste money like there is no tomorrow, not because online retailers are being greedy by keeping some of the money they earn.

  48. There should be a public response to Amazon’s heavy handed actions and their attempt to cow California and other states from requiring them to collect sales tax. Doing so just evens the field with California businesses. I don’t really like paying taxes, but I do want good roads, good schools, effective police and fire departments, etc. Time to boycott Amazon.

  49. Good on Amazon for cancelling their affiliate agreements and not paying state sales tax.

    this is a ridiculous argument and costing amazon sales, i know i look around for alternatives out of state.

    I wish they would cancel affiliates in New York so I didn’t have to pay sales tax from out of state orders.

  50. So here is the rub. What are taxes? Taxes are supposed to be used to support those paying the taxes.
    Forcing Amazon to manage taxes for the state costs them money and puts them at risk if they make a mistake. For this cost and effort they gain no advantages from the taxes. Thus by purpose behind taxation, I do not agree with such a rogue bill. Amazon also has no real means to fight and lobby this as they have no true California presence. Just because California cannot figure out how to balance their budget does not mean they should take it out on others. Why not fix their problems (over crowding jails, low income populations, etc…) themselves. They have a huge money making industry, start taxing the entertainment industries more, perhaps they can let (make) some of the criminals work and offset their costs, or just let some of the non-violent ones that have been in for 20 years out.

    California is the problem, they legalized themselves into a corner because they are so law happy without actually looking at potential consequences, that is why they are failing as a state. Instead of trying to lash out and push companies away, perhaps they should have a set of people look at their laws, benefits, tax breaks, and do some summer cleaning. Perhaps they should stop hiring movie stars to run things and hire accountants.

  51. California’s ideology, government, budget, etc., are all irrelevant here. Even in the context of an ideal California, the problem would be the same: Amazon is avoiding paying its fair share of taxes and as a result, everyone else is paying more. To the extent that this law corrects that wrong, it is welcome.

  52. make both offline and online sales tax exempt. that will level the playing field and solve the problem immediately.

  53. People aren’t getting this. Here’s the real scoop.

    What the states want is for all businesses to collect tax for the state, county, and city EACH and every buyer lives in. Even if it ends up being 22 cents for one transaction. And, those rates vary for the cities and counties and regularly change.

    Multiply this times every state, city, and county in the U.S., and you can see where this would be a logistical nightmare. It could kill interstate business.

    Can you imagine if you were a small retailer, and you had to collect and remit taxes for thousands of these separate districts? It would make it impossible to conduct business. Amazon is larger, but it is still an incredible burden. For them to do this, they would have to add lots of staff and prices would go through the roof.

    This is what people are not hearing and do not understand.

    This is going to backfire and cost more jobs and revenue than they could hope to gain. The only thing that would work would be one national sales tax.

  54. So Amazon, you don’t want to pay taxes? So what is the difference between you and and a greedy amoral company?

  55. Amazon isn’t paying the taxes, the consumer is. Amazon then forks over what’s collected to the state.

    So Amazon isn’t evil or amoral in my book, the bastards that can’t spend wisely, who constantly seek to bend over everyone but the top 5% income bracket, are the evil, amoral, greedy putzes that deserve to be called out and denied.

  56. I think this really sucks being a resident of CA, but to be honest the commission payout from Amazon sucked anyway. I just put the stuff on webpages as a filler. I feel sorry for the people that actually made some sort of income from them.
    The governor may has well just tie and anchor to your leg and throw you out to sea. With the unemployment rate and homeless in the stage its in, is this really helping?
    Many people are just scraping by in California, then for some jerk to come in and drop the bomb is pathetic.
    So the return is going to be more homeless, more unemployed, and more people moving out of state to? Or is this going to be more people setting up business out of state and overseas? I don’t see the win in this, Is this a solution?

  57. Sadly, our nonprofit independent schools will be impacted. Having an Amazon link on our website enabled our schools to earn credits towards book purchases for our growing library. No more! Shame on you Governor Brown for cutting revenue for education.

  58. This isn’t great news for Amazon affiliates and I think Jeff Bezos and Jerry Brown should be ashamed of themselves. To me this doesn’t even sound legal

    However, this might be a good lesson to be learned for affiliates and that is not to put all your eggs in one basket.


  59. Many blogs already refer products without being a part of Amazon’s affiliate program. California never got income tax from them since they don’t get paid by amazon. Now CA won’t get income tax from Affiliates as well.

    Links are a part of the Internet. California got to benefit from them through income tax, but not anymore. Now CA will not benefit from any link pointing to Amazon.

  60. Seems a lot of ignorance from both the commentators here and the author of the article.

    First off, this was “decided once and for all” by no less than the Supreme Court in 1998. The ruling was simply that online-only businesses like Amazon didn’t need to collect sales tax at the point of purchase.

    Yes, it’s up to the citizen to do so – and by the way, as a former Californian, their budget problem isn’t caused by Amazon, it’s the idiots spending money they don’t have left and right and not balancing a budget (socialism, anyone?) that’s been the real problem for years there.

    My point is that the article skewed the argument against Amazon by withholding facts. The fact is that states like those mentioned have bought into the lie that forcing Amazon and other online only retailers to collect sales tax on purchases will generate “lost income” for the state.

    First off: how do you lose something that never was yours to begin with? (Viz.: the 1998 ruling by the Supreme Court has made it so this money has never been in states’ budgets.)

    Secondly: by pulling their affiliate program, what Amazon has done is terminated the *loophole* that idiot legislators in California have seen, which is this:

    An Amazon affiliate is a physical representation of Amazon as a business. Affiliates are then seen as “employees” of Amazon (which is not the case, we’re not employees, we’re independent contractors), which arrests the Supreme Court ruling to the contrary (the ruling stated that businesses with no *physical presence* in the operative state need not collect these taxes at point of sale).

    What California and other states have done is argued *against* the Supreme Court ruling by riling up this notion of, “This isn’t fair for local businesses, we’re losing tax dollars…” it’s B.S.

    They’re losing tax dollars because they spend it all – it has nothing to do with Amazon, it has everything to do with big government getting too big to finance.

    What California and these other states need isn’t another tax target – they need responsible leadership that can find their calculators.

    1. yeah, big business subverted y US Courts and took over the Government generations ago.

      Up here in Canada, Amazon collects Fed and Provincial sales taxes at the time of billing; and Amazon will also collect Fed customs duties, if possibly applicable, all at their time of shipping: if Customs dues are less than Amazon have estimated and billed, there is a refund, later.

      Economic activity in my Provice? Pay your taxes, bub.

      And stop whining: change the god-damned laws to level the playing field – a Federal Sales tax, with transfers to the States where the purchsers reside, collected by Amazon as a federal trustee.

      All purchases which are finally completed within a State by a delivery into that State by Amazon ought to pay that State’s taxes. Whether that State be Canada, or California.

      If there’s a current tax advantage which favours one form of retail over another, it ought to be removed.

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