July 12, 2011

Amazon files petition to overturn California law requiring it to collect same taxes as all other California retailers


Executives at Amazon.com are so unnerved by California‘s new law demanding that it collect sales taxes just like all the other retailers in the state (see the earlier Moby report) that it has filed a petition for a voter referendum to get the law overturned. Or at least, that’s what an Associated Press wire story seems to be saying.

It’s somewhat hard to tell what the report is saying as it clearly takes Amazon’s side — it interprets California’s new law as “forcing” Amazon to obey the same law that all other retailers in the state have to obey. It also posits that Amazon “cut ties” to affiliates, rather than more accurately saying Amazon fired those affiliates after years of heavy recruitment of them. And it speaks disparagingly of brick-and-mortar retailer associations organized to fight the iniquities of some retailers having to collect taxes while others don’t.

That said, the unbalanced article does include the following quote, from State Assemblyman Charles Calderon, who calls Amazon’s reaction “odd.” He goes on, “They’re willing to go through all of that rather than just collect the state tax and remit it?  It shows how much they are committed to their business plan, which is centered around tax avoidance, and that’s the whole reason for the bills.”

Meanwhile, a New York Times report quotes Governor Jerry Brown‘s spokesman: “Amazon should be spending less time punishing its affiliates, threatening lawsuits and collecting signatures and more time doing what every other retailer does in California every day.”

He added, “Where does Amazon plan to collect these signatures–in front of bricks and mortar retailers that collect sales tax everyday?”

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives