Amazon Cuts “Associates” over Sales Tax Legislation
Bloomberg reports that Amazon is cutting ties to associates in states that are moving to up the sales tax ante.
The story is a little murky, but it appears to involve blog and web ads on third party sites.
I think this is what is going on: Say I have a blog in North Carolina. Someone visits my blog and sees an ad for an Amazon product and clicks through to the Amazon mothership in Seattle. North Carolina wants a piece of the pie, not because I live in North Carolina (I don’t), but because the ad I clicked on was in North Carolina.
Amazon thinks this is probably unconstitutional. I suspect they have a case. It’s like North Carolina’s charging me sales tax me for buying something because I happened to see it advertised on a billboard in North Carolina.
The full story is here.
Another take, that’s a little clearer on how the proposal works, is here. The second source confirms that the state wants to define a blog ad as a “physical presence” in the state (even though the blog ad is probably hosted on a server somewhere else entirely, maybe even in another country, and just embedded from afar).
Afterthought: It looks to me that, under this approach, if I lived in a sales tax state other than North Carolina, a retailer might be forced to collect and I might have to pay sales tax for both North Carolina and for my state of residence.