Time for Amazon to Give Up and Pay Up

As much as it pains me to say it, Amazon should start collecting sales tax and save itself a load of trouble. This is a fight it can’t win, in the end. Why fight the inevitable and piss off legions of people (Affiliate site owners, in particular) along the way?

There’s really no reason Amazon shouldn’t be collecting sales taxes today. They’re using an arcane and antiquated loophole in the law to justify not doing so. Honestly, it’s not that hard a thing to create a database to know how much sales tax to charge a buyer, given their billing address. Yes, it is a system that will require some resources to start and less to keep going in the future, but it’s got to be far cheaper than the lawyers they keep using to fighting local laws and politicians every couple of months.

I’ve enjoyed the tax-free shopping at Amazon for a long time now, but let’s not fool ourselves: we’re supposed to report it at the end of the year and pay it with our state taxes. Very few people actually do, though, and the cost of tracking this and fining people for it is a little overwhelming for state governments to handle. In the end, it likely wouldn’t make them enough money to cover costs.

It’s time for Amazon to grow up and be a real business and collect and pay the same kinds of taxes that every other business in the country does. When I shop at other on-line retailers, they calculate sales taxes and charge me accordingly, particularly the camera stores like Adorama and B and H. Some sort of system could be worked out at Amazon, too. It will level the playing field and save a whole lot of fighting — plus, more revenues for governments that can’t help themselves from wasting it!

And, as a consumer, I know I’m still getting everything cheaper than at a brick and mortar shop. That 7% sales tax (in New Jersey’s case) still doesn’t kill the 30%-plus discount on books we get today.

Still, I’d miss the extra savings. I admit it. But I’m also one of those “grown-up” types. Reality has to set in eventually. The internet is no longer the wild wild west it once was. And this is part of its maturation process.

Also, if your sole source of income is Amazon Affiliate links, you needed to rethink your business model before Amazon started closing its affiliate program in several states.

2 thoughts on “Time for Amazon to Give Up and Pay Up

  1. I was looking at another site talking about this same topic and they pointed out how, in every state that has adopted this policy, it was Democrats leading the charge.

    I’m quite sure that Amazon is already producing enough tax revenue on its own without the government trying to screw over affiliates as well, who are paying taxes from their Amazon earnings!

  2. Well, to be fair, the states aren’t directly asking for more money from the affiliates. It’s just that the states use the affiliates as their way of saying Amazon has a business in that state and is thus eligible to pay taxes in that state. So Amazon kills the affiliates business to prevent that hassle. The Affiliates are political pawns here.

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