Angry Amazon Pleads with California Voters to Repeal Tax Law

Paul Lilly

Every time a state draws up a new bill to force Amazon's hand at ponying up sales tax for products sold and shipped to its residents, the online retailer responds by killing off its associate program in that state and ending any business deals. It's akin to Amazon taking it's ball and going home, or at least going elsewhere, the only problem with that approach is Amazon is running out of places to, well, run. California is the most recent casualty to Amazon's associates program, but the e-tailer is also trying a different tactic this go-round.

Amazon is preparing to ask California voters to repeal the new state law requiring websites to forward information for the purposes of collecting sales tax. According to Reuters , California's attorney general's office received a petition for the initiative. The petition would require almost 434,000 signatures from registered voters by late September in order to qualify for a ballot on February 7, 2012.

"This is a referendum on jobs and investment in California," Paul Misener, vice president of public policy at Amazon, said in a statement. "At a time when businesses are leaving California, it is important to enact policies that attract and encourage business, not drive it away. Amazon looks forward to working again with tens of thousands of small business affiliates in California that were harmed by the new law’s effect on hundreds of out-of-state retailers."

California's new law calls Amazon's affiliate marketers a "nexus," and by extension considers Amazon as having a physical in-state selling presence, making the e-tailer responsible for sales tax. Amazon, like Overstock and a handful of other e-tailers, responded by ending its affiliate program in California, and Amazon alone had over 10,000 affiliate marketers doing business in California. Those are the jobs Amazon is referring to. Nevertheless, California lawmakers insist this isn't an issue about jobs, but one of leveling the playing field between online and brick-and-mortar stores.

"It is in every Californian’s interest for online and store front businesses to play by the same rules," Betty Yee, first district member of the California Board of Equalization, said in a statement, according to Seattle's TechFlash . "I strongly doubt Californians will support a loophole promoting out-of-state jobs, when holding accountable to the same rules as everyone else protects California’s economy."

Thoughts on the petition?

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