Amazon Wants to Ask You if You Want A Pony

In New York, is collecting taxes from sales there, but not submitting them to the state while they are suing to block the legislation that requires them to collect sales tax.  In California, there is a tried and true way that major corporations fix policy by throwing cash at it: the referendum process. Inc. wants California voters to decide whether to overturn a new law that forces online retailers to collect sales taxes there.

A petition for a referendum was filed Friday with the state Attorney General’s Office so that voters can decide on the requirement, which was included in a state budget signed into law in late June. (SacBee)

This really should come as no surprise to anybody, as it only costs them a few million bucks to get it on the ballot.  And the basic question is one that they will do their best to boil down to something along the lines of “Do you like free shipping? So do we? We also like not charging tax. Yay for no taxes!”

Beating back such a referendum will be a very tough fight on some uphill terrain.  That isn’t to say that there won’t be those who will try.  Some of the biggest backers of the Amazon legislation in the first place have some pretty big pockets, like, um, Walmart, Barnes & Noble, and Best Buy.  And it is true that the legislation benefits big box stores, but it also benefits the few remaining small retailers. And while the big box stores are (very, very) far (extremely far) from perfect, at least they do provide jobs to local communities.

On what grounds is it good policy to give a sales tax exemption to a company that ships jobs out of the state?  It is a happenstance of our jurisprudence that mail-order and online companies don’t have to charge sales tax, I get that.  But from any way you look at it, it just doesn’t make policy sense.

There are a number of ways to go about defeating this Amazon referendum, depending on how much money comes into opposing it. But by the time this hits the ballot in the primary next year, expect lots of ink, pixels, and TV bandwidth to be spilled (ads and coverage).  Depending on when the election is next year, it will be a very difficult time to fight back.  Yet, I imagine there will be a pretty good fight on this.

And, for the record, no,, I do not want a pony.

17 thoughts on “Amazon Wants to Ask You if You Want A Pony”

  1. Revenue has went down in states that have done what California did. And we are losing the income tax from the most productive affiliates.

    Also another out of state merchant cduniverse fired all their California affiliates.

    We either need Quill v. North Dakota repealed or a federal law to force Amazon or any out of state retailer to comply with use tax law.

    How about our Attorney General sue Amazon so we can get a supreme court case.  

  2. I’m not sure the folks at Amazon have thought this through completely. I still don’t buy Valero gas, I will not purchase anything from Amazon until they start paying taxes in California. I think their might be a lot of other people who feel the same way.

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