#rsrh What the Indiana/Amazon.com deal means – and doesn’t mean.

Came across this article via Hot Air on Indiana and Amazon.com coming to an agreement on collecting sales tax – short version; Amazon.com will start being liable for collecting sales tax in Indiana in 2014, or when federal legislation is passed, and not a moment before – and I was struck by the lack of information in it.  Specifically, on why Amazon.com was going along with this in the first place.  Generally speaking, Amazon.com‘s response to having individual states (they’re actually supportive of a federal program to straighten out state sales tax schemes) try to force it to collect sales tax is to refuse: it has a Supreme Court decision (Quill Corp v. North Dakota) that has established that companies do not need to collect states sales tax in states where they do not have a physical presence, and recent state legislative attempts to define ‘local online affiliates’ as ‘physical presence’ simply results in Amazon.com ending its affiliate programs in those states*.

So I looked it up… and it turns out that Amazon.com has a legitimate physical presence in Indiana (distribution centers); it had negotiated an agreement in 2007 with the state government to not be liable for collecting sales tax anyway.  Somebody sued over that, and Amazon.com has apparently decided that it might not win that particular lawsuit… so it made a deal where it will start being liable for sales tax collection a couple of years down the road.  All of which probably should have been in the story from the beginning, huh?

I shouldn’t complain: the inability of supposedly trained professionals to actually report the news has been a great personal boon to me and mine.  But it still bemuses, sometimes.

Moe Lane

Full disclosure: I am an Amazon.com Affiliate for Maryland.

*Except in New York, where they’re still fighting it in the courts.


Colorado Democrats put more Amazon money in my pocket. #rsrh

(Via Instapundit) Not that I wanted them to, but if they’re going to insist on shutting down Colorado’s Amazon Affiliates program* I can at least look on the bright side.  Fortunately, there are enough Marylander legislators with working brain cells to continue to make it possible for me to put up this link:


…and still hope to generate revenue from it.  I’m truly sorry that people from North Carolina, Rhode Island, and now Colorado can’t, but it’s not my fault that all three states have Democratic-controlled legislatures.

Oh, yeah, full disclosure: I generate revenue from Amazon Associate links.  As if you hadn’t guessed already.

Moe Lane

*More details here, including some pushback on the standard Lefty objections to Amazon.com ending its CO affiliates program.  See also here for a site dedicated to reversing this.


Rounding up the FTC Blog Regulation reaction.

Real quick summary: the FTC wants to keep an eye on blogs to see whether we’re trading favorable reviews of products for financial reward – which doesn’t sound so bad, until you consider that this apparently includes things like Amazon Associates links.

But they would need to think twice if, for instance, they praise parenting books they’ve just read and include links to buy them at a retailer like Amazon.com Inc.

That’s because the guidelines also would cover the broader and common practice of affiliate marketing, in which bloggers and other sites get a commission when someone clicks on a link that leads to a purchase at a retailer. In such cases, merchants also would be responsible for actions by their sales agents – including a network of bloggers.

Going down the list:

  • Ed Morrissey suspects a political aspect.  The administration’s reputation precedes them, you see.
  • James Joyner doesn’t suspect a political aspect, but he used the word ‘insane’ a lot.
  • Aaron Brazell apparently thinks that this is an appropriate extension of existing marketing rules, and that affiliate marketing is ‘borderline seditious’ anyway. Err, OK?
  • Daily Danet mentions that he’s not getting any of this sweet, sweet blogger swag. Something that popped into my head, too*.
  • And I’m guessing that this is going to be Glenn Reynold’s roundup post. Might as well link to it now.

My personal opinion?  The FTC doesn’t have to want to muck up our lives in order to successfully muck them up.  Always assume that any regulation or law that can be used inappropriately will be used inappropriately, whether or not malice was intended.

Also: buy stuff at Amazon Associates. While you still can!

Moe Lane

*I got a used copy of a book mailed to me once so that I could be up to speed for a conference call. Whoopee.

Crossposted to RedState.

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