Amazon Fires Its Colorado Associates

I just got interesting email from Amazon: the Colorado government recently enacted a law to impose sales tax regulations on online retailers […] We and many others strongly opposed this legislation, known as HB 10-1193, but it was enacted anyway. Regrettably, as a result of the new law, we have decided to stop advertising through Associates based in Colorado. We plan to continue to sell to Colorado residents, however, and will advertise through other channels, including through Associates based in other states. The message goes on to say that they’ll pay out all the money they owe me but I won’t earn any more money for referring people to them.

Interesting! So let me get this straight: I’ve done nothing, and Amazon just fired me? Now, I haven’t used referrals a whole lot so it doesn’t hit me in the pocketbook but this should send chills down the spine of anyone who thought they were building a business, or at least an income, around Amazon services. It’s one thing to be fired for something you did (hey doofus, don’t cause a heap of MPAA infringement notices to land on Amazon’s desk because you were running the new Pirate Bay on EC2) but it’s entirely another to be fired for something outside your control.

A farmer friend told me that the goats to keep are female goats: when one doe headbutts another, the recipient then turns to the next in the hierarchy and headbutts them. With male goats, though, you get prolonged headbutt battles that are loud, intimidating, and potentially damaging. Amazon is obviously hoping the female goat scenario plays out: Amazon headbutts me, so I’ll go headbutt my representative— punish Amazon’s associates and hope they’ll pass the pain on. I wonder whether any of Amazon’s (former) Colorado associates will turn out to be male goats who, grumpy at being set upon, retaliate….

The full text of the letter follows, and there’s TechFlash covered the new law.

Dear Colorado-based Amazon Associate:

We are writing from the Amazon Associates Program to inform you that the Colorado government recently enacted a law to impose sales tax regulations on online retailers. The regulations are burdensome and no other state has similar rules. The new regulations do not require online retailers to collect sales tax. Instead, they are clearly intended to increase the compliance burden to a point where online retailers will be induced to “voluntarily” collect Colorado sales tax — a course we won’t take.

We and many others strongly opposed this legislation, known as HB 10-1193, but it was enacted anyway. Regrettably, as a result of the new law, we have decided to stop advertising through Associates based in Colorado. We plan to continue to sell to Colorado residents, however, and will advertise through other channels, including through Associates based in other states.

There is a right way for Colorado to pursue its revenue goals, but this new law is a wrong way. As we repeatedly communicated to Colorado legislators, including those who sponsored and supported the new law, we are not opposed to collecting sales tax within a constitutionally-permissible system applied even-handedly. The US Supreme Court has defined what would be constitutional, and if Colorado would repeal the current law or follow the constitutional approach to collection, we would welcome the opportunity to reinstate Colorado-based Associates.

You may express your views of Colorado’s new law to members of the General Assembly and to Governor Ritter, who signed the bill.

Your Associates account has been closed as of March 8, 2010, and we will no longer pay advertising fees for customers you refer to Amazon.com after that date. Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned prior to March 8, 2010, will be processed and paid in accordance with our regular payment schedule. Based on your account closure date of March 8, any final payments will be paid by May 31, 2010.

We have enjoyed working with you and other Colorado-based participants in the Amazon Associates Program, and wish you all the best in your future.

Best Regards,

The Amazon Associates Team

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  • frequencyhopper

    I just got the same email. I can’t believe this. I have spent many hours setting up my web-based business, and now a good portion of it is pulled out from under me. In some respects, I can understand Amazon’s reason for doing this. It’s probably to make a major PR stink, so other states don’t consider it. Sadly, we are the pawns in this game. I really feel sorry for people living in Colorado that have a substantial portion of their income based on Amazon. I hope they figure this out quick.

  • Brian Robbins

    Same e-mail came through here.

    I like the goat analogy, but in this case I definitely believe it’s the Colorado legislature at fault. I’m not thrilled about Amazon’s reaction but this law that was just passed isn’t going to raise significant revenue, and instead is just going to hurt Colorado consumers and small business owners.

    Fortunately a very tiny amount of my revenue came from Amazon so this doesn’t hurt me too much financially, but I know a lot of people in the high tech space that are going to be hit very hard by this.

    The high tech industry tried to fight against this from the start, and this is exactly the sort of repercussions that we warned against, and were ignored.

  • simcat

    Got the same email. Frankly, embarrassed by my states legislature and tired of seeing those “victory in colorado” messages on affiliate sites.

    Is their any reason major web-monolith websites like google, ebay, amazon have to respond in such a vague way on everything?

    “online retailers will be induced to “voluntarily” collect Colorado sales tax — a course we won’t take. “

  • CharlesH

    Sad, yes, but welcome to the real world.

    Hundreds of thousands of blue collar workers get this type of notice every day. Or how about the Saturn dealerships? GM dealerships? And on and on.

    Shouldn’t this also be a wake-up call to residents in the tax-and-spend states (and in our tax-and-spend federal government) that it’s time to take the power back and usher in a new area of fiscal responsibility?

  • colokid

    Yea I received the same e-mail and shot off a few e-mails to my so called representatives and the unpopular gov Ritter, firing them all!! I also let Amazon know I “was” a good customer but since they are worried about their bottom line more than my well being, I will be BOYCOTTING AMAZON.
    I know a drop of rain won’t be missed in the ocean but its the priciple of the action.
    I guess Overstock will do the same http://simurl.com/moczen
    Maybe Ebay will step up to the plate and sue Colorado for trying to by pass the Constitution heck I wonder if anybody even remembers we have a Constitution.

  • Greg Wilson

    I don’t think this is any different from Sprint “firing” its most expensive customers back in 2007, or US retailers refusing to ship to Canada when our dollar is above par: if something’s going to lose money, a company should stop doing it, no matter what the underlying cause. And I much prefer Amazon’s approach to the usual tactic of hiring some lobbyists to wine ‘n’ dine elected officials, channeling money into those same officials’ re-election campaigns, etc. — don’t you?

  • TonyR62

    The big picture thats being ignored by the people complaining is that the mere fact that Amazon does not collect sales tax for the state governments, gives it an unfair business advantage over the brick and mortar operations. In NY that amounts to an 8+% savings for the purchasers but are we really saving? That tax revenue is lost so funding for many programs in education , police, fire etc needs to be cut. The brick and mortar shops lose business but still have their overhead expenses to pay.Many businesses are forced to shut down because a lot of their customers are now buying from the internet sites that as a result of the 0% tax end up selling cheaper.Do we really want a world where the small mom and pop shops are forced to close and our governments are forced to shut programs just so Amazon and others can maintain that unfair advantage? I think not. If the stores have to collect the tax then in all fairness so should everyone who sells in the state.

  • David

    Why don’t you see it as the legislature putting pressure on Amazon? In any case, this is how politics works. Thank you for informing us of this, but complaining about Amazon’s actions, which don’t actually affect you by your own admission, seem … silly.

  • Chris Milliken

    I got the email too. The full implications of Colorado’s move was clearly not thought out enough. But Amazon’s reactionary measure makes less sense. They are assuming that all or most of the traffic that comes to them through my site is going to be Colorado-based purchasers. If this were true, Amazon’s move might have a shadow of sensibility. But they are overlooking the basic nature of the Internet. They are punishing ME, not mitigating the number of Colorado-based buyers. I am in Colorado, but almost none of the traffic that hits my site is from Colorado. Farewell Amazon. I guess I hardly knew thee.

  • Kyle Johnson

    This isn’t really new news. Amazon did the same thing in North Carolina when our legislature passed a similar bill that requires places like Amazon to collect state sales tax for NC residents. They bill categorized affiliate program holders as physical presence. Amazon’s only choices are to collect sales tax in these states or discontinue the affiliate program in that state. So far Amazon has been choosing the latter in the hopes that public opinion will break their way.

  • Rae

    As an internet marketer in Colorado, this does affect me, and I think it’s total BS and sucks rocks. Thank goodness I don’t put all my eggs in one basket, but it really does blow!

  • sb

    To TonyR62 — “boo hoo” life is unfair, and your answer for it is like our politicians — tax, tax, and tax.

  • GeekGirl

    According to the AP:

    “To help enforce the law, the bill would allow the state Department of Revenue to ask online retailers with annual sales of more than $100,000 to provide a list of summarizing what each Colorado resident bought in the previous year.”

    http://www.philly.com/philly/business/technology/021010_colorado_net_tax.html

    Doesn’t that fill you with a warm fuzzy feeling?

  • Cathy

    You know, we did the same thing in NY a while back and the world hasn’t come to an end for the ordinary consumer and the state has more of the money it needs to fund government services.

    For everyone who built web-based businesses based on Amazon–I’m sorry that they threw you under the bus. Didn’t you know it was always Jeff first, now and forever?

  • greg

    It sounds like of what some of you are saying is that Amazon shouldn’t have to pay taxes when they do business in a state. Is that really what you want?

  • grey

    To Cathy: You know, this isn’t about anything you just wrote about (and you are wrong about the increase in sales tax in NY, btw — hasn’t happened). This is about the state and federal govt. having out of control spending — and instead of cutting that — they choose to turn on evil businesses — big and small — and make more of a mess — writing bills without even thinking about the fall out.

  • kirk

    CATHY — not sure we should be following the models of lousey, bankrupt state govts. like NY, NJ and Calif.!!!

  • GeekGirl

    greg [2010-03-08 07:30 AM]
    It sounds like of what some of you are saying is that Amazon shouldn’t have to pay taxes when they do business in a state. Is that really what you want?

    ………………..

    Pay taxes? No, the issue is should a company with no physical presence in Colorado have to COLLECT sales tax for Colorado.

  • GeekGirl

    Cathy [2010-03-08 07:26 AM]

    You know, we did the same thing in NY a while back and the world hasn’t come to an end for the ordinary consumer and the state has more of the money it needs to fund government services.

    ……………………………..

    Meanwhile, in Rhode Island:

    “But the state law has done nothing to increase tax revenue. Officials at the R.I. Department of Revenue “do not believe that there has been any sales tax collected as a result of the Amazon legislation,” said Paul L. Dion, who heads the department’s revenue-analysis office.”

    http://www.pbn.com/detail.html?sub_id=2976531d0961&page=1

  • Bob

    According to an article on Google, reference to “associates” in this bill was removed. Does anyone know if this is the case? If so, what is Amazon.com hope to achieve with this latest action? My guess is that, as financially strapped states look for new revenue, this type of thing will spread around the country. So much for the “internet tax free zone.”

    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Adperio+Successfully+Fights+to+Remove+Affiliates+From+'Amazon+Tax‘…-a0219471907

    “Adperio Successfully Fights to Remove Affiliates From ‘Amazon Tax’ Bill in Colorado; Denver-based firm leads efforts to have Colorado HB 10-1193 rewritten to exclude affiliates from proposed legislation.”

  • gummybear

    Cathy [2010-03-08 07:26 AM]

    you don’t even know what you are talking about.

    This was a back-handed measure by the democrats in the CO state leg. to bypass our state Constitution. This was all politics, can’t be enforced, and is now going to cause net revenue losses to the CO state government.

    but that’s the job of a liberal state leg. and govenor, isn’t it? to tax and spend, penalize businesses when that doesn’t work, and then finally to bankrupt states like NY? They sure are good at it.

  • TaxGuy

    It is one thing for Amazon to cut off its affiliates in a state like Rhode Island where the law was changed to state that the presence of those affiliates obligated Amazon to collect the state’s sales tax. But that is not the case in Colorado; Amazon will still be required to comply with the new law despite having cut them off. So its action is just political retribution; it is using the affiliates as pawns in a game aimed at pressuring the legislature to reverse the law. Colorado affiliates should be furious with Amazon, and should seek other firms to affiliate with that sell similar merchandise but do collect Colorado sales tax — like Barnes and Noble and Best Buy.

    The new Colorado law doesn’t require Amazon to collect the state’s sales tax. It’s a perfectly legal exercise of the state’s regulatory authority over a business that is intentionally availing itself of a market in the state. It requires the company to disclose to its customers that they likely owe use tax on what they bought and to the state that its customers bought potentially taxable items.

  • GeekGirl

    Hey Gummybear:

    Bet if you check your state income tax form you’ll find there’s a space for the use tax on your online/catalog sales that didn’t collect it.

    Repeat after me: it’s not a new tax … it’s not a new tax.

    It is a tax that is next to impossible to collect.

  • gummybear

    you’re right geekgirl :)

    Here’s a special report just released:

    “Amazon Tax” Laws Signal Business Unfriendliness And Will Worsen Short-Term Budget Problems

    http://www.taxfoundation.org/publications/show/25949.html

  • Bailey Guns

    Don’t blame Amazon. Blame the democrats in the house, senate and governor’s mansion. HB10-1193 was passed 100% by democrats and signed by a democrat governor.

  • dorn hetzel

    If you live in Colorado and want to continue selling for Amazon, why not just set up a sub-S corporation or LLC in any other state and do business with Amazon through that. Then they don’t have to know or care where you live since the company, not you, is their representative…

  • Star

    It is your fault if you voted for a Democrat.

    History has proven higher taxes = less business = fewer jobs = less income.

    I feel bad for folks who just lost this income stream who have worked hard building successful businesses, but this is the cost of tax and spend Dems.

  • Paul Carney

    Please don’t slam Amazon (don’t work for them). It was the legislature that is trying to micromanage their successful business and they have every right, as a business, to respond to where they will work and where they won’t.

    This is a classic case of government interfering with the marketplace with some unexpected consequences. Your representatives are the ones who should be hearing from everyone, not Amazon.

    This is very similar to Google’s move in China. If people are upset, take it up with China.

  • Chris

    Dorn,

    You cannot just go out of state and setup a new LLC or INC. If you still live here, you’d rather set yourself up for an IRS audit.

  • Yikes

    How would the State of Colorado force Amazon.com to divulge our personal information and spending when Amazon.com is located in Seattle?

  • Publius

    “The big picture thats being ignored by the people complaining is that the mere fact that Amazon does not collect sales tax for the state governments, gives it an unfair business advantage over the brick and mortar operations.”

    The Federal Constitution does not require Amazon to play tax collector for the states. Get over it.

  • Star

    Should Amazon continue have “associates” in Colorado, they have nexus in Colorado which subjects them to state law.

  • Casey

    Anyone interested in Inc.’ing up in Oregon? No sales tax state.

  • Yikes

    But, it sounds like even if Amazon.com does not have a presence in Colorado, the DOR will still ask for a list of names and amounts spent.

    So, how does Colorado force Amazon to do that? I’m no expert on state laws, but Colorado laws do not apply to Washington State laws…right?

  • Stormy

    I got the same mail this morning and I was pissed.

    A little advance warning of what they were planning to do would have been nice. At the very least I would have saved several hours of work yesterday building up an Amazon store for a website.

    Now I can either remove all the affiliate links from my website or redirect them to another account (like GNOME’s.) But either way it’s going to take work and any sales from today will go no where.

    I am mad at Amazon for the way they treated me, not my representatives for whatever laws and regulations they put in place. (I may have issues with them but Amazon has no right to bully me into doing anything.)

  • sf_Jef

    I love how self-serving conservatives take every opportunity to blame all the country’s problems on a single year of Democrat rule. Fact is, these state legislatures wouldn’t be scrounging for every available tax dollar if the last Republican administration didn’t blow a huge surplus by outsourcing two wars to private corporations who overcharged the American taxpayers billions. Or how about the deregulation of Wall Street that went on before Obama and caused the real estate collapse?
    Oh, but it’s all the Democrats fault for a recession the Republican started.
    It’s a nice strategy you and Fox news came up with, to make a mess and then blame it all on the next guy, but all it takes is a little research to see how transparent it is.

  • Jim

    @Stromy

    What is a GNOME account that you speak of?

  • Yikes

    sf_Jef: Flip side is that the economy started to tank during the Clinton Administration. Bubble busted under his rule.

  • Yikes

    Oh, and I believe it was also the Clinton Administration that led to the housing crisis, too.

    http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474977461051

  • gummybear

    “Star [2010-03-08 09:27 AM]

    Should Amazon continue have “associates” in Colorado, they have nexus in Colorado which subjects them to state law.”

    ————

    um, no! duh. Colorado law explicitly states that affiliates do not give Amazon a nexus. But thanks for playing.

  • Star

    1. This is state budget issue. Has nothing to do with the Fed (wars Republicans “started”). This has everything to do with Democrat state leadership since 2004. Tax and spend without any fiscal discipline.

    2. Amazon would be compelled by law to divulge all sales data relating to Colorado state sales. This could be done via state court and the state treasury. The legal fees and penalties would be massive for non-compliance.

    If you have nexus in a state, you are bound by the tax laws of that state.

    If you do not have nexus in a state, you can tell the state treasurer to pound sand.

    Amazon is doing the later thanks to Democrats being Democrats and chasing business out of the state.

  • Star

    “um, no! duh. Colorado law explicitly states that affiliates do not give Amazon a nexus. But thanks for playing.”

    How so?

    A Colorado “affiliate” markets an item. A Colorado buyer buys that item. Point of sale is Colorado = nexus. Transation is merely hosted by Amazon.

    The laws of nexus are complicated–I doubt you have any grasp of them. Basically, if you have nexus for one transaction in the tax year, you have nexus for all them.

    Even corps that have an entity (non-retail) in a state can have nexus in that state subjecting all their sales to state tax laws (which is applied to sales to residents of that state).

  • Lisa D. Knudsen

    I would like to point out that bricks and mortar businesses in Colorado are obliged to collect and remit sales taxes to the state. They are obeying the law and as a result have been operating in a down position with regard to online retailers. Amazon, Overstock, and others are in direct competition with bricks and mortar stores, yet they have an unfair advantage over those stores, in that online customers effectively are buying at a discount.
    Online retailers and their affiliates are in effect encouraging consumers to flout the law, and then these affiliates cry “Poor me – I’m just a little guy trying to make a living!” – What about all the “little guy” bricks and mortar businesses?
    Lisa K.

  • Chan

    Most people here don’t understand the issue, which is nexus — a legal presence in a state. NY, NC, RI and CO are saying that even when a company that has no physical presence in a state (such as Amazon and NY) hires (i.e, pays a commission to) an individual and company in that state to drive sales to the company’s website, that creates nexus for the company in the state. Having defined this as a cause of nexus, that requires the company to collect and remit sales tax for all orders shipped to that state, no matter what the source of the web site traffic was for an individual order, and independent of the state of resident of the affiliate’s traffic. In this example, if an affiliate resides in NY, this creates nexus for Amazon in NY. Now that Amazon is ubiquitous in shopper’s minds, they can easily blow off NY affiliates. Big NY affiliates who have a lot at stake, simply “move” to PA or CT, etc.

    The stupid thing is that states are still considering this, like CO recently did. CO just hurt CO-based Amazon affiliates, killed their Amazon (and soon to be others) revenue, and actually DECREASED CO income tax revenues. Affiliates with a lot at stake will just relocate their business to WY, NM, UT, etc. Those states gain.

    Until California decides this, or advertising on Google, creates nexus, this state-level approach will continue to hurt the states implementing it in the short-term.

    The solution? The federal government should implement a 5% “out of state” sales tax for internet merchants to remit to each state quarterly, based on “ship-to” state. Internet merchants will only have to worry about their state’s tax rate, and 5% for out-of-state. Simple and implementable without bankrupting small e-commerce companies with a bureaucratic nightmare. This 5% is less than just about everyone’s sales tax, but brick and mortar retailers benefit from local infrastructure, and thus should collect a higher sales tax to remit to the state/locality. Call it a day, let everyone get back to the business of running their business and making a living.

  • greg

    “no physical presence in Colorado ” – the bulk of the economy will move to channels without a nexus, so what you are arguing for is a hollowing out of states as they have no way to collect money except through property taxes.

  • FacePalm

    Our legislature is INFAMOUS for lack of thought and wisdom on laws.. this is just the latest in incompetence… look at the medical pot law for example… we need this repealed and WISDOM in bill making. .not knee-jerk reactions.

  • Sandra Dykes

    I am a Colorado businesswoman who is affected by this, and I actually support what they are doing because Colorado had no business passing this legislation. Most companies were already taking out Colorado sales tax anyway, but this law is just ridiculous! So while my company will feel a pinch and I’m not happy about it at all, I still support the idea behind what they’re doing and am mad as hell at our legislature.

  • Stanley

    If I buy something from Iowa for my Mom’s birthday and it ships to my Mom in Florida, Colorado gets sales tax? See how stupid this sounds. Do you think other countries like Canada will collect state taxes? No way in hell. Thanks Colorado for moving more jobs out of this country.

  • greg

    Chan, what about states like OR that have no sales tax? Also of question is what about tax base. Some items are sales taxable in some states & not in others. For instance downloaded software is not taxable in CA, but is in some states. What about food products?

  • nate

    I’m relocating away from Colorado because of this, better than losing my income. I’m sure Amazon will let me open an account elsewhere. Funny thing is, I sell nothing to CO residents.

  • ColoradoBoycottsAmazon

    Chan (and anyone else that is refusing to actually acknowledge the truth) – the fact of the matter is that the Colorado Legislature specifically *removed* the wording relating to affiliates and creating nexus in the state for this exact reason. Amazon has made a calculated attempt in garnering support for their cause (which happens to be the ability to sell to residents of Colorado without paying sales tax) by in effect martyring all of their current Colorado based affiliates. So, even though 1) the affiliates stood up to the legislature and pleaded their cases that the wording be removed and 2) the legislature listened and removed the wording to avoid these kinds of issues, Amazon is still going to remove them as affiliates to “make a point”? What of all the people who worked so hard to make sure that they could still support the companies they wanted through affiliate programs? No – this was the wrong move and is absolutely despicable in my book. I am appalled and enraged by their feeble attempt at turning me against my own local government for their own benefit.

    #ColoradoBoycottsAmazon

  • ShinerBuck

    Hope this is a lesson to consumers who want to revolt against their governments… quit buying stuff…

    As some have pointed out, online retailers have had the upperhand on bricks and mortars by not having to collect a sales tax.

    California and other states have been collecting online sales taxes for years, so I don’t understand why “all of a sudden,” this is a surprise to online retailers in Colorado.

    If you don’t like it, don’t be in the business, and don’t consume crap you truly don’t need.

    I hate taxes just as much, if not more, than the next person, but governments aren’t going to figure that out until we ALL stand up together and quit feeding the monster.

    Go ahead… write your congressman/woman… protest… write about it in news and blog about it… it won’t do a damn thing.

    If you have nothing for the “monster” to feed (income/property/sales taxes) on, the monster will eventually die (or lose a LOT of weight).

    Also, think about your words and your actions… a lot of people enjoy their tax deductions (having “x” number of dependents or mortgage interest) and credits (they bought a “new” house, solar panels, or an “energy” efficient (or new for that matter) vehicle)… somebody “else” is/are paying (subsidizing) for those things… generally, the less fortunate. Those things appear MORE “socialized” to me than ensuring that health care is regulated and affordable.

  • Michael

    Interesting! So let me get this straight: I’ve done nothing, and Amazon just fired me?

    No, that is not correct. The people who you elected (whether you liked it or not) to represent you at a State level did something.

    So: Yes it was you.

  • Josh

    Amazon fired all these affiliates DESPITE the legislature changing the bill specifically so that online affiliates WEREN’T included. The state LISTENED to the small business owners and changed the language accordingly. Amazon fired these affiliates anyways, not because they were going to create a new tax expense, but simply to give the middle-finger to Colorado.

  • Max

    I love how people blame Amazon for this. Did anyone in Colorado ever say:

    “Hey, my state, for some weird, evidently unknown, reason, spent $10 BILLION more than it had and instead of, I don’t know, decreasing the size of the state government, thought it’d be a truly excellent idea to raise taxes on businesses to cover the costs of the state’s inability to manager their finances!”

    Bottom line – you voted the bozo’s in, now vote them out. Looks to me you guys voted in a predominantly Democrat state legislature.

    Hey! Here’s a radical idea — participate in your local elections, make sure that the legislature you vote in is pro-individual liberty and anti-big government.

  • bob

    “Hey! Here’s a radical idea — participate in your local elections, make sure that the legislature you vote in is pro-individual liberty and anti-big government.”

    yeah genius, that’s a SWELL idea…for how long have you been voting? for how long has America been voting? and where are we now? use your head: doing the same stupid thing over and over and expecting a different result is INSANITY. keep voting, keep buying the lie, the illusion of choice, wage-slave.

  • ShinerBuck

    I think I’ll “vote” with less income, property, and sales taxes they’ll collect from me…

    Let’s see if that keeps ‘em going…

  • JKim

    Keep voting Democrat Colorado!

  • JB

    What are the implications for CO-based Amazon Sellers? Will this mayhem spread from Affilaites?

  • ColoradoBoycottsAmazon

    No – voting had nothing to do with this. If any of you naysayers actually took the time to look at the situation you would see that this is in fact a prime example of people getting involved and making a difference. The original bill included wording essentially granting nexus when a purchase was made through a referring affiliate in the state. Many affiliates in the state strongly opposed this wording, and many took the time to speak to the legislature in person to plead their case. The legislature listened to their constituents and revised the bill and removed any and all wording referencing affiliates. This was a huge win both for affiliates and the legislature in proving that people *CAN* make a difference. What Amazon is doing is trying to get the right-wing radicals like you donkeys to come out of the wood work crying foul on the democrats for taxes. What Amazon is relying on is you people to come into the debate, entirely uneducated about the facts, and try to get the people of Colorado riled up against their government for the benefit of big business. Looks to me like you all are just pawns in this grand scheme, and the honest, hard-working affiliate marketers of Colorado are getting hosed, all the while you people are ok with it and blame the government for causing this. No – big business caused this, simple and outright.

  • ShinerBuck

    ColoradoBoycottsAmazon, I applaud with your foresightedness… some people WILL NOT get it.

    People forget that corporations WILL USE their “individual” cloutness to get what THEY want… it has nothing to do with the consumers in Colorado… it ALL has to do with competition… against the “brick-and-mortars” that are already “based” in Colorado.

    More people will purchase locally from a “brick-and-mortar” if the price is the same than from an online retailer (equal competition).

    A suggestion to the Amazon retailers, there’s always eBay… and then again, eBay auctions WILL SOON BECOME subject to sales tax too.

    IF YOU DON’T LIKE SALES TAX (I DON’T), THEN DON’T BE IN THE BUSINESS THAT CREATES A SALES TAX.

    Either party will use the “sales” mechanism to incorporate a “tax.”

    I’m surprise this wasn’t done under Governor Owens.

  • Anonymous

    As some have pointed out, online retailers have had the upperhand on bricks and mortars by not having to collect a sales tax.

    But it frequently costs upwards of 25% to have items shipped to my house, so I pay more for the convenience; it’s not a savings. I’ve never actually met anyone who uses the internet exclusively for shopping and to avoid sales tax. And, I’d note, there’s nothing stopping any brick and mortar business from selling online in addition to their regular retail outlets. Some of us might even shop locally more often–at those places that aren’t open when we’re off work to shop there in person.

  • Outside The Box

    I always Hear how the poor “mom and pop” stores are unfairly disadvantage by having to “pay” sales tax when internet companies don’t. This smacks of reactionary “good ‘ole days” fantasy more than thought-out reason:

    1) Online or B&M, *the tax is the same*. The distinction isn’t the tax, it’s *who collects it*. If you buy in Colorado from an out of state merchant, you are supposed to collect your own sales tax and remit that to the state.

    2) Most B&Ms by dollar are *not* “mom and pop”, not unless Borders, B&N, etc are “mom and pop”.

    3) The big internet companies generally do *not* compete with true mom and pops stores. Big companies make their money on high volume items. Mom and Pops who specialize in service-based products (e.g. specialty mystery book stores) are not losing business to big internet retailers.

    4) Most importantly: those B&Ms *have* an unfair advantage: the roads that bring customers to their doors are paid for with *tax* dollars, as are all the other infrastructure services that they rely on. An out of state company gets *no* advantages from tax dollars spent in that state while the B&Ms do, giving the latter an “unfair advantage”. Many large B&Ms in fact are wooed to states by big tax breaks.

    For anyone who thinks that Overstock etc could just push a button and magically collect taxes in any state they wanted: think again. Consider that every state, county, and city has its own sales tax rules and rates. Many things are charged at different rates even within the same municipality, e.g. in some places food (which places like amazon sell) is not taxed while luxury items (say) are taxed at a higher than normal rate. Some places tax adult’s clothes, but not children’s shoes. The sheer magnitude of the technical problem involved in trying to do that in every single state, county and town in America is incredibly daunting; and most of these companies are operating in multiple countries as well. And then, also note that the rules are constantly *changing*. I would not want to be the one to have to write the software that somehow is always up to date with every new law. It’s an almost infeasible problem.

    This is a huge technical project, IOW.

    I know that devotees of the government faith think that one can just pass a law and presto chango, the desired effect – and only the desired effect – occurs instantaneously and 100%, but if faith is believing in something despite a lack of or even overwhelming evidence to the contrary, then this is clearly faith, because we’ve got about a billion data points to the effect that this doesn’t work. You may want everyone to immediately collect the exact tax rules that you want, *but it isn’t easy* even if you are trying to comply.

  • Star

    Hey Koolaid drinkers,

    If there’s no harm to Amazon (nexus), then why have they done this?

    Business is business, and if a company can make money without excessive liability, they will.

    You rant on about “right wing” this and “right wing” that but in the end Amazon is not an ideaolgue like you. Being so doesn’t generate income for them.

    The Dem legislature has, once again, screwed Coloradans with this bill.

    I won’t boycott Amazon and I won’t shift the blame from tax-and-spend Dems to them either.

  • Star

    Hey Koolaid drinkers,

    If there’s no harm to Amazon (nexus), then why have they done this?

    Business is business, and if a company can make money without excessive liability, they will.

    You rant on about “right wing” this and “right wing” that but in the end Amazon is not an ideaolgue like you. Being so doesn’t generate income for them.

    The Dem legislature has, once again, screwed Coloradans with this bill.

    I won’t boycott Amazon and I won’t shift the blame from tax-and-spend Dems to them either.

  • Dan

    I just opened a new office for my business here in Denver, Colorado the middle of last year. This latest news story about Amazon dropping affiliates in CO is just one of many stories that give me pause about operating here. Is this state conducive to business? I wonder.

    When Twitter launched its local trending service a few months ago it did not include a single CO city. Fortune Magazine’s list of best places to work for didn’t have a single CO company. Not even as an honorable mention. And that was across several categories.

    This state needs to step it up or it will always be considered a 2nd tier marketplace.

  • ShinerBuck

    Dan, if you don’t offer a product or service worthy of itself, then, you’ve made a “grave” mistake in opening a business (it doesn’t matter where).

  • ShinerBuck

    Colorado was “built” on precious metals (way back when 1870 – the turn of the century) and the oil and gas industry (back in the late 70’s), so I don’t understand how/why it’s functioning today.

    Don’t give me that “regional hub” crap either…

    It must be due to the “leisure” activities (skiing and vacationing B.S.).

    Leisure doesn’t “build” economies.

  • Minkey

    I have never made a purchase online, that I did not pay taxes on and always a Colorado sales tax? I don’t understand why you are hollering, there has never been a time I bought on-line and did not have to pay top dollar in taxes!

  • ColoradoBoycottsAmazon

    Star (et al idiots) – like I said above, Amazon did this to make you right-wing idealists jump into the debate. Are you really going to ask that question again? The point is that Amazon doesn’t like the Colorado sales tax law, so they are trying to garner support by cutting ties with their Colorado affiliates and blaming it on the new law, when in fact, the truth of the matter is that many Colorado Affiliates stood up, did the right thing, fought on the side of Amazon for removing affiliates from the bill, and accomplished their goal. Amazon’s way of thanking them for all their efforts to make sure they could still promote their products is to say “thanks but no thanks”? What world do you live in where that is ethical, follows any sort of moral standard, or is right in any book? Business is business, right ok I get it, but don’t make us pawns in your business schemes, and if you do, don’t expect that the repricussions of your actions won’t reflect negatively on those that just fought so hard for you. This is a stab in the back for any Affiliate marketer in Colorado, and anyone that’s suffered this abuse should save Amazon any future trouble dealing with our new law by boycotting their products and services.

  • ShinerBuck

    75% of our economy relies on government spending.

    That doesn’t bode well with me, but, the “conservatist” will try to disagree…

    Ask the conservatist who the major employers are down in Colorado Springs.

    The F’ing government.

    If the government didn’t have miltary installations or an academy down there… that town would be “non-existant.”

    And those A-holes “preach” less government??

  • Apreche

    If you are making that much money from Amazon Associates that it matters, then you have a company. If you have a company, just re-incorporate it in a different state. You don’t have to live in that state. Tons of people have Delaware corporations, and almost nobody lives in Delaware. This will help you avoid the tax and continue your business.

    If it’s not worth the hassle to move your company, then you weren’t making enough money from Amazon for it to matter.

    Also, if you are actually in Colorado, do the appropriate civic duty things to tell your representatives to get rid of that law.

  • greg

    Max, it is much better to do it the republican way and just borrow borrow borrow. And the deficit doesn’t relate to this issue it all. It’s how will states get funding of the bulk of business becomes virtual. But just keep on borrowing Max. It’s the republican thing to do.

  • Anonymous

    AMAZON.COM-PAYPAL.COM SUCK!!!
    You buy from these crooks, you get HORRIBLE service and pay a premium.
    MOST companies that now sell via the internet stink! They make you
    scream when trying to get customer support.
    BUY LOCAL, get your merchandise today, buying through the internet
    no longer works, plus you pay taxes…WAKE UP AMERICA-BUY LOCAL!

  • ShinerBuck

    ColoradoBoycottsAmazon,

    Just like the doctors whose 20% of their patients are “Medicade” patients… and they’re going to “refuse” Medicade patients now… which will probably hurt 40% of their practice’s income, and he’ll have to “lay” some of his/her staff off…

    Some people will hang themselves with the rope you give them.

    They don’t realize that they’re in business because of the “subsidized” programs made available to those who cannot afford it, whether it be Medicade or insurance.

    And/or, they don’t realize they went into a career to “care” for others.

    But of course, “it must be the mo-ney…”

    It would be comical to see a Revolutionary stand up against his/her government today… take up arms you idiot Tea-Bagger.

  • Stormy

    @Jim

    You can read more about the GNOME amazon account here, http://jaap.haitsma.org/2009/09/06/the-gnome-amazon-store-friends-of-gnome/.

    The affiliate code for the GNOME account is friendofgnome-20. All proceeds go to the GNOME Foundation, a 501(3)(c) not based in Colorado. (Thank goodness!)

  • Star

    “It would be comical to see a Revolutionary stand up against his/her government today… “

    Really?

    What happens when the government runs out of “other people’s money?” What happens when all the false promises are broken and people who have been paying into “the system” for 30+ years are left with nothing?

    Imagine…

    No more Social Security
    No more Medicare
    No more Medicaid
    No more Section 8
    No more food stamps
    No more worker’s comp

    And the great roll-back of socialism in America will not be because of Republicans, it will be because Dems have pushed so far they have broken the bank.

    When it happens, it won’t be the “Tea-Bagger” standing up, it will be the welfare state and it will be ugly. Probably more “social justice” than you could stand.

  • Perry Swanson

    Amazon’s explanation for its move is misleading, at best. Read the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute’s analysis here.

  • ShinerBuck

    Star,

    Read my previous posts… the “monster” will either die or lose SIGNIFICANT weight.

    I would much rather pay for health care for some “unworthy” (not my saying) servant than pay for…

    -Sending your kids to college
    -Paying for your mortgage interest
    -Paying for the solar panels on your roof
    -Paying for the hybrid/electric car in your driveway
    -Paying the “x” number of A-holes in your family
    -Paying to educate your offspring
    -Paying for your police state
    -Paying for your justice system

    The “Focus on the Family” A-holes are sure enjoying their time in Colorado Springs.

    I shouldn’t have to pay for it… no A-hole should live in a $400,000 house with six kids that I make sacrifices for…

    Money is MORE powerful than bullets my friend, and if you feel differently, then I say, STAND UP… you’ll only be shot down… and ALL it takes is “one shot.”

    I’ll show you “social justice” that’ll make you puke.

  • Star

    Shiner,

    So much anger! Did mommy not hold you as a child? You’re not planning any violence are you?

    With all of that angst you should be especially peeved that bailouts Dems have created have gone to those groups you hate so much.

    It’s the Dems who are forcing you to make those sacrifices. They are taking the money out of your wallet and they spend it, not according to your values, but as needed to guarantee reelection.

    Have you seen who the millionaires are in Washington? They aren’t Republicans.

  • ShinerBuck

    Star,

    It was your “righteous” ones that nutured me…

    The “righteous” ones are the one who “sent” us out to do their “dirty” work… and pay taxes to them.

    Oh, the “millionaires” are the ones who “sell” religion.

    They’re “Right,” “White,” and “Racist…” everything that can be found in the Republican party.

  • Star

    “They’re “Right,” “White,” and “Racist…” everything that can be found in the Republican party”

    You seem to be the racist hater in the room.

    I hope the FBI has a file on you. Hate to see you in the news shooting kids in front of a school or something…

  • ShinerBuck

    Star,

    Only a “right-winger” such as yourself would spread such rumors…

    Only in your “demonized” world…

  • jc

    To answer JB:

    “What are the implications for CO-based Amazon Sellers? Will this mayhem spread from Affilaites?”

    At this point, it won’t impact an Amazon seller, because the seller (if playing by the rules) has a licensed corporation that pays sales tax already on sales within the state.

    I sell on Amazon and have watched this bill very closely. Sellers on the web are already required by law to pay sales tax (whether collected from customer or not) on all sales to customers within Colorado. Amazon bears no tax responsibility on transactions it handles for sellers. It is the seller’s responsibility.

    As a Colorado-based Amazon seller – not an affiliate, there has been no impact for my business as of yet. I employ Colorado residents and sell well over seven figures a year. We are projecting to triple sales this year. 98% of my sales are to customers outside of Colorado. Colorado would have never seen the sales tax on those transactions whether bought through my business or not.

    The big deal that Colorado needs to consider, however, is the other revenue generated by my business – which is substantial. State income tax on my earnings and the earnings of my employees…business supplies, company vehicles, warehouse renting, Colorado jobs, all bringing money into this state.

    I understand that Colorado was very careful to preserve the livelihood of the small business owner that sells on the web when creating this bill. But if the ripple effect impacts my business in an unfavorable way, I will be forced to take it outside of Colorado to a state where the government is more friendly to the online seller.

    Staying put for now.

  • ShinerBuck

    JC,

    Not to personaly attack you, but, do you “honestly” think you’re above all else??

    ‘come on man…

    A sales tax is a sales tax.

    If you don’t like it, then don’t be in the business that “creates” as sales tax.

    I would much rather pay taxes to a prostitute.

  • Steve

    It’s hilarious that people are upset at those evil “spendocrats” when all CO is trying to do is collect the tax it is already owed. They aren’t creating new taxes here, get over yourselves.

  • JC

    ShinerBuck…Where do you get that I am above all else? I have no problem paying sales tax on transactions to customers within this state. My point, however…if Amazon closes the doors on my business, because I sell from Colorado, don’t you think it reasonable to move my business to another state?

    Not meaning to antagonize, but I’m not sure what you mean.

  • bowerbird

    wow. 88 comments already. seems to have hit a nerve…

    -bowerbird

  • ShinerBuck

    It does “hit a nerve” with me…

    If you want to import your foreign made crap here, well, you should have to “make up” the difference.

    Call it “Protectionist…” I don’t care…

    You think the Germans, Limeys (English), and Japanese are importing American products into “their” countries??

    I say, then keep buying their Mercedes, BMW’s, Porsches, VW’s, Altoids, Sony Blu-Rays and PS3’s…

    Whatever…

    That’s not “free-trade,” and if you think differently, G-T-F-O…

    We as a country provide them with much more… they steal our ideas.

  • ShinerBuck

    But, “Toyota” execs are “sensitive” to the American well-being who consume “their” products??

    Ask yourselves, “where does that profit go…”

    “I shouldn’t have to…”

    Bought and paid for by A-holes like you…

  • ShinerBuck

    Of ALL the 3/6 vehicles I’ve owned in my “40” years (50/50)… having been marketed by the “socialist” in our own country… the “Reds…”

    Chevrolet has been my best experience overall… and Ford would’ve been better.

    So, what do you have to say ’bout that you sellouts??

    We’re not living in the 60’s/70’s anymore… a F’ing Japanese car isn’t “half” what it cost back then…

  • Jason Jordan

    This is Bullsh I just got my affiliate acount spent probably over 120 frustraiting hours setting up my site and was about to launch 100,000 visator web campaign witch is already paid for ive got god nos how much money i have invested in this. This has become my fulltime job and now im back to square one and no money couse i spent it all to promote and sell sports equipment from amazon through my site milehisport.com And now im left with a useless website. The funny thing is that although i havnt checked yet i bet if you went there and order amazon would still take the order and fullfill it. and i get nothing. Im gonna check after this. Any way i apollagize if this comment sounds a bit me,me me,I know theres thousands of Co. affiliates in the same boat.

  • ShinerBuck

    A Toyota ’bout burned my mother to death about 2 years ago…

    I know, we should have “creamated” her instead of “burying” her… she would much rather be remembered in a monastery… “she hates thinking being put into the ground…”

  • jayja

    So who do we focus our frustraition and anger on Co.gov. or Amazon or both Im so mad right now i cant hardly see. But Who am i mad at?

  • ShinerBuck

    JJ,

    That’s how corporations survive these days… it’s a “Ponzi” scheme.

    Set out for you’r own “Wild West.”

    BTW, people don’t need “sport’s equipment” in a recession.

    You have to sell a thing/service that people need/depend on… no matter what the circumstances are.

    Don’t be a sellout.

  • ShinerBuck

    Jayja,

    Take less “take home” pay…

    Don’t buy anything that’s not necessary.

    Honestly, I was glad that my fortune top 20 company decided to cut my pay 10%… that’s 10% less than what the monster (government) can take.

  • jayja

    Hey JB I have a co. sales tax licence But am regesterd as an affiliate with amazon and that was how i was gonna start out till i was able to biuld my own invantory. are you saying that if your regesterd with the state this doesnt apply. if i register with amazon under my bussnesname that it doesnt apply im confused. Im kinda new at this whole thing.

  • ShinerBuck

    If you’re gonna remain in business… you gotta pay your taxes… it’s unfortunate to the “consumer.”

    If you feel “dirty” in doing so, then, don’t start up a business in this enviornment.

    WAIT…

  • Mike

    Listen to Morse, he has the right idea. Facts get lost in the blogosphere on occasion ;)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXT7Fey8RiY&feature=channel

  • jayja

    Hey ShrinerBuck Im not a sellout I have 2 kids that play sports and thats how i came up with the idea about a year ago. after spending a grip of money on football. I wanted to offer new sports equipment at cheaper pricing and yea there is a play it again but there getting to the point that there used stuff isnt much cheaper. So no capital how was i gonna do it Well maybee i need to sellout for a few to reach my end result and that would be a bricks and morter store mom and pop like , and to get there iwould haveve to sell amazons stuff for a few.Thats the plan anyway

  • The Conservative one

    Hello. Amazon is not your mommy nor your friend. As business people you should have been on top of industry news and been writing your legislature like people in other states did. Not waiting for someone to spend THEIR money to protect your income.

    Amazon is anti-Union (which I’m sure you all support). And guess what… they don’t love you any more than they love their real employees.

  • ShinerBuck

    Jayja,

    That business model has been around for the past 20 years… you’re not on to something new. You ever hear of “Play It Again Sports?”

    It’s a dying game…

    I’m not trying to knock ya… been there, done that…

  • jayja

    Ok Back to the drawing board!!!Who knows this might be a good thing. Lessons learned in the world of Bussiness.This could be a ust a roadblock story in my story the of succes a few years from now.

  • JC

    Morse isn’t giving you the facts. Apple collects tax in states where they have stores and not in states where they don’t have stores. Morse’s YouTube video is a smear campaign against Amazon and not the way he should have handled it.

  • Anonymous

    Um, yeah, it’s an angry retaliation, but I think a lot of people are confused here. Nexus or no, reprogramming Amazon’s site to tell CO buyers how much tax they will owe–and then sending statements of what people bought to them and to CO State at the end of the year–is not insignificant work. So, they’re pulling the affiliate accounts in protest. It doesn’t help if those of us who have businesses in CO leave, because then we’ll just have to add reporting to customers and the state to our long list of things to do to try to comply with Colorado’s crazy home rule tax zones. I closed shop in Colorado last year, but let me tell you, if I move out of state, I won’t sell to Coloradans if this law is still in place. There goes my income tax, the sales tax I spend, other local taxes, and my likelihood of recommending that anyone else set up shop here.

  • ShinerBuck

    Anonymouse,

    Please don’t tell me you “closed up shop” in Oregon (a state with no income tax) to open up shop in neighboring Washington (with income and sales tax)?

    I hear that lame excuse ALL the time.

    If their sales tax (a state with no income tax) is raised from 8 to 10%, then it’s better for a business to move its shops to Washington where the sales tax 8.8% and the income tax is 5% (just like any other state), the idiot business owner just cut his own throat… by 7.5%

    Get out of town you antique dealers!!!

  • ShinerBuck

    If you “sell” crap here in Colorado, you damn right you’re gonna carry your weight… I don’t rely on your “MLM” Amazon/eBay marketing schemes… pay your damn taxes.

  • jc

    Hey, Jayja. It is the “affiliate” business that is out for a Colorado business. You can still sell products as an Amazon seller. Sports equipment is (according to Amazon) going to be an area that they promote and grow this year to drive more sales. 20 yr. old business model? I don’t think so. Jayja…you are stepping out and creating your own business model in an ever-changing world of retail. You can help shape the face of online sports equipment retail. You can even be one of the major players if you make it happen. Don’t listen to the naysayers.

    Just be ready to move to another state if Colorado legislates down your profit margins :)

  • jc

    Hey, Jayja. It is the “affiliate” business that is out for a Colorado business with Amazon. You can still sell products as an Amazon seller. Sports equipment is (according to Amazon) going to be an area that they promote and grow this year to drive more sales. 20 yr. old business model? I don’t think so. Jayja…you are stepping out and creating your own business model in an ever-changing world of retail. You can help shape the face of online sports equipment retail. You can even be one of the major players if you make it happen. Don’t listen to the naysayers.

    Just be ready to move to another state if Colorado legislates down your profit margins :)

  • ShinerBuck

    Good luck Jayja… more “MLM” crap being “marketed” to you by “JC.”

    I HAVE NO USE for USE sports equipment…

    And if it’s worth your while, “I have some used sports equipment in Chile.”

  • John Morse

    For those of you interested in the facts regarding Amazon’s reprehensible behavior towards their Colorado affiliates, please see my video blog here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXT7Fey8RiY

    As for those discussing the difference between Amazon and Apple, Barnes and Noble, etc.:

    You’re right in that Amazon and B&N are situated differently (B&N has physical stores in CO, whereas Amazon does not), but the bill treats them differently. Online stores with a physical presence (B&N), must collect and remit sales tax. In contrast, online retailers such as Amazon, which don’t have stores in CO, are only required to send the relevant tax information to the CO Dept of Rev, allowing the state to collect the taxes. Please feel free to read the bill yourself at the Colorado General Assembly’s website, and you’ll see the bill is entirely consistent with the US Supreme Court’s decision in Quill Corporation v. North Dakota.

  • Nat Torkington

    Thanks for the interesting and vigorous comments, folks. I think we’ve said all that there is to say about this topic and, because I don’t want to see this turn into a dems-vs-repubs back and forth in the comments, I’m going to close comments.

  • MJ

    Great job Amazon. Way to stick up for what is right. Our rights are much more important that individual sale conversions. If you were this dependent on Amazon this would be a great time to do two things. One, consider a more diverse business strategy. Two, consider moving to a state that encourages business development. This is the entire idea between state taxes versus federal taxes. When we operate under state control this allows we the people to reward the states we agree with and to walk away from the states we disagree with. This keeps “We the People” in control. Way to stand against the state Amazon, you have my vote! And yes I’m an Internet Marketer so this goes against my pocket book. MJ