Jul
09
2012
2

#rsrh Let me predict something about Idle Time Books.

Idle Time Books is, for those who haven’t read this Washington Post article yet on e-sales tax (an article that somehow manages to avoid noting that existing e-sales taxes have not increased revenue) (both links via Ben Domenech at Ricochet), being presented as the Plucky Little Company That Will Serve As a Club With Which To Morally Beat The Big, Bad Amazon:

Still, local retailers hope the sales tax measures will give them a chance to compete.

“I’ve got to file a form every month, and I’m only one tiny business,” said Val Morgan, owner of Idle Time Books, a 30-year old bookstore in Adams Morgan. “If I can do it, surely Amazon can.”

(more…)

Jun
02
2012
1

#rsrh Chris Christie joins Amazon.com in supporting the Marketplace Fairness Act.

I see that Hot Air is reporting on at least the first half of this – essentially, that Chris Christie has come out in support of the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA), a law that would set up federal guidelines for collecting sales tax online – but based on the comments there I’m not sure if enough folks really understand the situation here wrt Amazon.com.  It boils down to this: contrary to popular belief, Amazon.com does not oppose the MFA.  It in fact supports it.  This is ostensibly because the MFA promises to standardize sales tax collection methods… but it’s mostly because Amazon.com’s business model actually is largely reliant on third-party vendors. (more…)

Apr
28
2012
1

Texas, Amazon.com come to agreement on sales tax collection.

This will no doubt cheer upthe big-box retailers gunning for Amazon.com, but Texas was in a good position to win this one; Amazon.com has an unambiguous, no-fooling, no need to evade Quill Corp. v. North Dakota physical presence in that state, in the form of a distribution center.  The list found here should give some clarity over where and when Amazon.com will end up fighting these particular battles.  Put simply: if you want Amazon.com to collect sales tax for you in your state, get them to put an office or distribution center there.  You might end up actually winning that fight, then.

In other words: Amazon taxes DO NOT WORK.  Being a good business environment does.  As, say, Texas is demonstrating, largely at, say, Illinois’ expense.

Moe Lane

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

Apr
10
2012
5

Amazon. Taxes. Do. Not. WORK. (Illinois edition)

I know that Neil over at RedState covered this in passing, but I wanted to highlight this situation.  Background: last year Illinois (read, Illinois Democrats, led by Democratic Governor Pat Quinn) decided to try to force Amazon.com to start collecting sales tax on purchases made by Illinois residents*.  Arguments were made at the time that this was a futile gesture, given that Amazon.com would simply end its affiliate program; the counter-argument was that Amazon.com would not, and that the end result would be more tax revenue collected.

Well.  The law passed in Illinois and Amazon.com promptly ended its Illinois affiliate program.  As expected; and as for more tax revenue… well, Chicagoist somewhat tartly noted that use tax (which is where the supposed tax income would have showed up) actually decreased in the second part of 2011.  It did not, in other words, provide the $150 million in new revenue that Illinois Democrats promised their electorate… which leads to Chicagoist to go “I told you so.”  Well, I told you so, too… and let’s not forget that this situation is even worse than that, given that the income gotten from affiliate programs is in fact taxable itself.  No affiliate program, no taxable income. (more…)

Jan
21
2012
2

#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.

Sep
10
2011
6

California caves on Amazon tax. For now.

The can has been kicked for another year.

Lawmakers on Friday sent Gov. Jerry Brown a compromise bill that delays California’s effort to force online retailers such as Amazon.com to collect the state’s sales taxes while retailers lobby Congress for national rules governing online sales taxes.

Essentially, California legislators passed a bill earlier this year that ‘exploited’ a loophole in federal case law that would have required Amazon.com (and others) to collect sales tax on purchases made by California residents.  Amazon.com (and others) promptly ended the affiliate program that provided the loophole.  California legislators blinked with surprise, because apparently they completely missed noticing that Amazon.com always does this (except in New York, where they’re fighting the law in court).  Shockingly, California legislators have now apparently gotten a rush of oxygen to the brain and delayed ‘implementation’ of the tax until September of 2012; this time is supposedly to allow Amazon.com and other online retailers to petition Congress to straighten out national sales tax guidelines (something that Amazon.com has been pushing for, actually). Assuming that Governor Brown signs off on this – and, given that the original bill has pretty conclusively been already shown to be wildly if not insanely optimistic in its estimated revenue*, he’d have to be extremely dumb not to** – Amazon.com will turn its affiliate program back on. (more…)

Aug
16
2011
1

#rsrh CA Left demands working class pay more sales taxes!

Wait.  What?

A coalition of groups that advocate for the elderly and poor are urging California online shoppers to boycott Amazon.com because of its refusal to collect state sales tax on purchases made through the website.

…Entertaining, isn’t it?  After all, actual elderly and poor people (as opposed to the parasitical organizations that ‘organize’ on their behalf)  will continue buy stuff on Amazon.com largely for the deals… and to effectively avoid paying sales tax.  Sure, you still have to, anyway – technically.  But no politician with a measurable IQ wants to start arresting people for evading sales tax on online purchases, because that’s a quick way to become a former politician.  And if the Democrats – it’s typically the Democrats who can’t seem to instinctively understand the cold logic involved here – could convince a sufficient number of people that they want to voluntarily pay their sales tax then they wouldn’t be trying to get Amazon.com to do it for them.

So I guess that the boycotters are kind of, well, stuck there.

Via Instapundit, who has… suspicions 0n who’s paying for all of this.

Moe Lane

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

Jul
07
2011
8

Amazon, Tennesee, Bill Haslam, and a national sales tax.

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

Glenn Reynolds noted this apparent contradiction in what Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s position actually is with regard to having Amazon.com collect sales tax: is the Republican Governor for it, or against it?  I say ‘apparent’ because there isn’t one, really; there’s just not enough context.

Basically, the position that Haslam is taking is that the state of Tennessee trying to impose an Amazon tax would probably wreck ongoing negotiations between the state and Amazon.com when it comes to getting a couple more job-creating distribution centers built in-state (which it probably will).  Haslam also thinks that a national, standardized system for sales tax is both necessary and proper:

[Haslam] said Tennessee is already losing between $300 million and $500 million a year on untaxed Internet sales — a growing number since the states and Congress have been unable for more than a decade to agree on a “streamlined sales tax” process enabling online retailers to collect taxes easily for the nation’s thousands of state and local taxing jurisdictions.

“It’s not going to begin eroding the state’s tax base; it already is. Something has to happen nationally. The whole streamlined sales tax is a big deal, and I’m more than willing to play a leadership role,” Haslam said. “It has to be addressed on a national level or we’re going to keep playing these kinds of move-around games.”

(more…)

Jul
05
2011
1

Martin O’Malley (D, MD) pushing for Amazon tax.

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

It’s still in the early stages – the Governor has started the paperwork process and Comptroller for Maryland Peter Franchot supports the idea – but the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, and goodness knows that the Democrats keep doing precisely that when it comes to Internet taxes.  Franchot (who, as the Red Maryland podcast above notes, is likely running for Governor in 2014) is claiming that the revenue that Maryland would glean would be roughly $160 million; given the way that Maryland’s Democratic-controlled government has wrecked the state’s economy recently, that number is a glittering prize.

A real pity that it’s a mirage.  (more…)

Jun
29
2011
8

#rsrh Amazon ready to end California affiliate program.

A friend and colleague of mine just got this email:

Subject: Notice of Contract Termination Due to Potential New California Law

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 Amazon.com [ http://www.amazon.com/ ], Endless.com [ http://www.endless.com/ ], MYHABIT.COM [ http://www.myhabit.com/ ] or SmallParts.com [ http://www.smallparts.com/ ]. 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 [ https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/network/your-account/payee-info.html ]. And if you relocate to another state in the near future please contact us [ https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/contact?subject=&ie=UTF8 ] 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 Amazon.com [ http://www.amazon.com/ ], Endless.com [ http://www.endless.com/ ], MYHABIT.COM [ http://www.myhabit.com/ ] or SmallParts.com [ http://www.smallparts.com/ ].

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

(more…)

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