Saturday, August 6, 2011

the amazon book store

I notice I still have the Amazon book store banner up at the top of my page.  Some of my readers have software that blocks that sort of thing so they probably never even noticed in the first place.
In any case, the state of California is going to try to extract state sales tax from online vendors selling stuff in California.  They will approach Amazon and say, hey, how much have you sold in CA this year and how about handing over the sales tax.  Amazon is balking and one of the things they did is discontinue their program of paying a percentage of sales generated through links to people who live in California.  So if you do click on one of the book links I have put up and buy a book from Amazon, I no longer get a percentage.  Still, I may keep the book store up there because it's a convenient place to list books that I have found interesting or useful.
But discontinuing the commission program seems like a bad idea.  Perhaps Amazon was hoping that people like myself who have made a buck fifty in the past year will write impassioned letters to their legislators.  Probably won't happen.  It's probably good for Amazon to pay taxes.  We buyers will pay more for our stuff, but on the other hand,  Amazon will have less of an unfair advantage over local retailers. And California won't have to lay off so many teachers and librarians. 


Bob Easton said...

There's a small flaw in your position. Businesses don't pay taxes. Consumers of business goods (or services) pay the taxes. This is especially true for sales taxes.

Businesses only COLLECT sales taxes and pass them on to the state.

Businesses with no physical presence in the state are not required to collect sales taxes. Amazon has no presence present in CA.

California requires all consumers to pay sales taxes on tangible goods whether bought from an in-state business or an out of state business. (see:

You do report those out of state purchases don't you?

All California is doing is asking Amazon to do the collection (probably because too many Californians are "free riding" and not paying as expected).

Net result, more administrative cost for Amazon, and Jeff Bezos, while being very liberal, is also a businessman who said "No thanks, do your own collecting." ... and yes, he also "punished" the associates for the reason you stated. Sorry. Too bad, but as "the Donald" says, "It's only business."

Wolfgang Brinck said...

Bob, your points are well taken. Also, google thought your comment was spam and I had to pull it out of the spam folder.
My main issue was that I was leaving up the Amazon ads even though I don't profit from them.
I do hope that Amazon and the state of California come to some sort of resolution of the taxes that has some chance of working.

Frank Hagan said...

No retailer is required to collect taxes on sales out of a state where they have a "presence" or a "nexus", which usually means a store or employees based there. The US Sup Ct had decided the issue long ago, which is why no sales taxes are ever collected on mail order purchases from out of state vendors.

The states feel that "internet purchases" are different, and the affiliates are "storefronts" or "employees", and therefore create a presence for the company. The issue will eventually be resolved by the Sup.Ct. and probably the same way the issue was resolved for the mail order purchases.

I am converting my Amazon links to Barnes&Noble links through their affiliate program, but my income from the links is way, way down. It may mean I have to scale back on the free sites I provide, and close them or monetize them some other way. Who gains in this scenario? Certainly not my readers, Amazon or the State of California.