Amazon to reinstate California affiliates as early as this week

Amazon to reinstate California affiliates as early as this week

Summary: Amazon said they will reinstate their California affiliates as early as this week in response to California repealing its sales tax law.

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TOPICS: Amazon, Browser
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In an email response to blogger Mark Booth, Amazon has stated it will reinstate its California affiliate (Amazon Associates) accounts as early as this week.

This comes as a surprising - but welcome - move after Amazon dropped all its California affiliates at the end of June in response to the passing of a California sales tax law.

California had joined other states in passing its own e-commerce affiliate tax. Amazon dropped affiliates in many other states as similar (but unequal) laws have been haphazardly passed, but their reinstatement is a surprising move that shows Amazon hasn’t turned their backs on the issue.

When Governor Jerry Brown signed the repeal, Booth emailed Amazon to ask the question many of us California affiliates had: would Amazon now reinstate their California-based Associate accounts?

He received this reply from Amazon today:

Hello Mark,

As you may have heard, California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation repealing the law that forced us to terminate our California Associates.

We're working to relaunch the Amazon.com Associates Program in California as soon as possible. In the next few days, we'll reach out to all affected past Amazon.com Associates with information how to re-open their accounts.

We look forward to seeing you again soon.

The passing of California's state tax law blindsided many, and the issue is a complex one involving State and Federal tax laws, big-box retailers, booksellers and doublespeak PR campaigns, and an array of small business owners caught in the crossfire.

In Amazon to Relaunch California Associate Accounts Mark Booth writes,

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a tax bill that forced out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax on purchases made by California residents if those retailers had a "nexus" within California. Upon the signing of the bill, Amazon immediately terminated its thousands of California-based Associates thus eliminating the "nexus". Shortly thereafter, Amazon began a referendum process to allow California voters to overturn the new law.

After the Board of Equalization declared that Amazon still had nexus in the California, on July 7, Amazon formally filed a request with the California Attorney General’s office for a voter referendum to overturn AB 28X.

Still, then-former Amazon Associates held no hope of getting their accounts back, there was discussion about small business owners dependent on Associate income leaving the state, and those of us Associates with thousands of links (in my case, links going back ten years) felt like we'd been hung out to dry in more ways than one.

Now it looks like they will put their money where their mouth is and welcome back their California Associates.

Scrambling for tax money, states have been trying to redefine ‘physical presence’ - and plainly put, Amazon thinks what these states are doing is unconstitutional.

In case you're wondering about Amazon and the state-by-state sales tax fight, it’s not as simple as saying that Amazon is “trying to avoid paying sales tax.” In fact, that’s not the case at all. The new state laws are specifically for affiliates: Amazon collects sales tax in Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Dakota and Washington - the states where Amazon has stores or offices.

At the ShopSmart Summit held in New York this year Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos stated that he believes the actions of the states to be unconstitutional and that this should be resolved at the federal, not the state level saying,

In the U.S., the Constitution prohibits states from interfering in interstate commerce, and there was a Supreme Court case decades ago that clarified that mail-order companies, because the Internet didn’t exist then, would not be required to collect sales tax in states where they didn’t have what’s called a nexus.

Bezos also flat-out stated that Amazon would like Congress to create a national sales tax system, and said Amazon would support the ongoing Streamlined Sales Tax Initiative. Its aim would be to unify sales tax practices in all U.S. states.

Amazon came under serious fire for dropping thousands - tens of thousands - of California affiliates overnight, putting small business owners in dire straits and giving Amazon'd critics plenty of fodder. Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land hit Amazon hard with his post, An Open Letter To Jeff Bezos On Terminating The Amazon Affiliate Program In California.

What emerged a month after the California tax law Amazon Associates incident is that big-box retailers like Wal-Mart stand behind the the state tax law push.

California’s internet tax battle revealed a clash of retail titans Amazon.com and Wal-Mart. Turns out that Wal-Mart and company also had no problem making pawns out of American booksellers and consumers.

Wal-Mart (along with Target, Overstock.com, Target, Best Buy, Home Depot and Barnes & Noble) are behind the propaganda-heavy “Alliance for Main Street Fairness” PR campaign. They’re the ones pushing states to make the new tax laws, while making no bones about the fact that they’re after Amazon.com on a nationwide scale.

Image by Kevin Dooley, under Creative Commons 2.0 Generic license, via Flickr.

Topics: Amazon, Browser

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12 comments
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  • Sweet!!!!

    Like seeing this come back to Cali!!!

    :D
    rhonin
    • There is Sanity in California after all....

      @rhonin
      .... :-)
      PS: I am glad Amazon did not cave in.
      It was greedy state politicians in the pockets of Walmart that hurt the California affiliates!
      kd5auq
      • They're not greedy.

        @kd5auq

        They just got tired of their scofflaw citizens not reporting the tax due.

        What, you thought that Retailer X was charging you sales tax because you bought an item from that retailer, who just happened to be located in the state? Nope! Retailer X charges you the sales tax because -- quite reasonably -- the state assumes you will be using that item *within the state boundaries*. That, along with the item category in some states, determines whether the transaction is taxable or not.

        The state doesn't care *who* you buy the item from, as long as the sales tax due on the transaction is paid. Brick-and-mortar retailers are required to collect it from you up front, then remit it to the state. Catalog sellers -- you know, the old-school method, where you received a paper catalog, & either snail-mailed your order to the distribution center or called into a 1-800 number -- in some of those states were also required to collect it, *and no one considered that unconstitutional*. But for some reason, online retailers feel they're somehow exempt...even though the sales tax codes generally predate the birth of our *grandparents*, let alone the Internet.
        spdragoo@...
      • RE: Amazon to reinstate California affiliates as early as this week

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  • RE: Amazon to reinstate California affiliates as early as this week

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  • RE: Amazon to reinstate California affiliates as early as this week

    Wish Illinois would repeal but we are currently run by idiot democrats who have put Illinis into an $8 billion deficet and they are raping the people anyway they can. just doubled the tolls way fees again even though the tolls were written to be taken down no later then 1978..What year is it?
    Fletchguy
    • RE: Amazon to reinstate California affiliates as early as this week

      @Fletchguy I live in Florida and it's run by idiot Republicans who have doubled the vehicle registration fees across the board in order to help overcome our state deficit. Also, the idiot Republican "Bush Tax Cuts" were supposed to expire when?
      Keep political party affiliations out of it. ALL states are in fiscal trouble. They do what they can to overcome their deficits as long as it's everyone ELSE who takes the hit. Have you heard of one single politician, city, state or federal, taking pay cuts to help with the deficits? I haven't. In fact, a majority of the city's here in Florida are giving raises to the politicos while cutting jobs in their offices as well as police and fire departments. How would you like to know that police and fire responses were now undermanned and likely to take three to five minutes longer to get to you and that the one's that caused it gave themselves raises for doing such a wonderful job?
      Forget the party line rhetoric ... they're ALL a bunch of liars. The paychecks they receive from "We the people" is chump change. Their REAL income in derived from the lobbyists and special interest groups. After all, who pays out $30-40 million to get a job that pays $125,000-150,000 per year for only four years? Get real.
      xffcapt01
  • RE: Amazon to reinstate California affiliates as early as this week

    What everyone seems to overlook when they say that non-sales tax paying online retailers have an "unfair advantage" over brick & mortar stores is that buyers (in most cases) have to pay shipping charges for online purchases. More often than not, these costs exceed what the sales tax would have been. If online retailers are forced to collect sales taxes, they would have to absorb shipping costs in order to make their products attractive to buyers. Otherwise, the buyers will flock to brick & mortar stores where they only have to pay sales tax, not shipping charges. BTW, Wal Mart has the right idea with their "ship to store" arrangement: Order online, pay sales tax but no shipping charges, pick up your order at your local Wal Mart. Very useful.
    flboffin
  • RE: Amazon to reinstate California affiliates as early as this week

    spdragoo is out of his or her mind. Clearly clueless about how interstate commerce works and must be a politician who is benefiting from collecting taxes. The scofflaws are the ones taking the taxes and squandering it on their pet projects and helping out their rich buddies.
    YeomanDroid
  • I don't understand the deal with sales taxes.

    I don't base my purchasing decisions on whether or not I have to pay sales tax. I base it on how fast I need it, whether or not it's available locally, and the price. However, if sales taxes keep going up that will probably start to factor into my decisions.
    Beat a Dead Horse
  • RE: Amazon to reinstate California affiliates as early as this week

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    whitewinered
  • RE: Amazon to reinstate California affiliates as early as this week

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