Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Missouri Sales Tax and Amazon Associates and Me

Last week I received a fun little notice from Amazon.com.  It reads:

Greetings from the Amazon Associates Program.

We are writing from the Amazon Associates Program to notify you that your Associates account will be closed and your Amazon Services LLC Associates Program Operating Agreement will be terminated effective August 27, 2013. This is a direct result of the unconstitutional Missouri state tax collection legislation passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor Nixon on July 5, 2013, with an effective date of August 28, 2013. As a result, we will no longer pay any advertising fees for customers referred to an Amazon Site after August 27 nor will we accept new applications for the Associates Program from Missouri residents.

Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned prior to August 28, 2013 will be processed and paid in full in accordance with your regular advertising fee schedule. Based on your account closure date of August 27, 2013, any final payments will be paid by October 31, 2013.

While we oppose this unconstitutional state legislation, we strongly support the federal Marketplace Fairness Act now pending before Congress. Congressional legislation is the only way to create a simplified, constitutional framework to resolve interstate sales tax issues and it would allow us to re-open our Associates program to Missouri residents.

We thank you for being part of the Amazon Associates Program, and look forward to re-opening our program when Congress passes the Marketplace Fairness Act.


The Amazon Associates Team

In case you've never noticed, or never cared, all of my book links and some of the ads that I keep on my blog (and all the booklinks I use on my author website) have my Amazon Associate id embedded in them.  It's a feature that ought to mean nothing to the few people who click on those links, but that adds up to a few cents here and there in my pocket.  Up until next week, if you click on one of my links and actually buy something, then Amazon pays me a small referral fee--a percentage of around 4%-7% (depending on what the link is and how many folks have bought stuff with my links recently)

It's not a lot. I'm not a high-traffic site.  I just don't get that many clicks or purchases.  But it's not nothing. 

So here's the deal as far as I understand it (keep in mind, I'm not a lawyer or tax expert or anything similar):  because I'm a resident of Missouri, if Amazon were to continue paying me advertising revenue on those clicks, then they would have to collect Missouri sales tax on all the items that get sold as a result of those clicks.  They don't want to do that.  Therefore they are yanking my Amazon Associates account (along with all the rest of Missouri resident accounts) and not allowing any other Show-Me's the opportunity to make a few bucks by referring folks to their site.


I'm not really sure what to think. I'm not really mad at Amazon--they are clearly making a decision that is best for their business going forward.  I'm not entirely sure I understand all the ins and outs of sales tax calculations. I'm definitely not against sales taxes, so I'm not sure I'm mad at Missouri.  I live here and benefit from the services that all that tax money buys.

I am peeved that Missouri was already taxing my Amazon Associated referrals as income.  But since that wasn't enough, they also want to collect sales tax from Amazon because they see me as a physical presence where Amazon is doing business.  Or I was adding to their "nexus" helping bolster their bottom line.  I suppose in a very tiny way, I was helping bolster Amazon's bottom line. But moreso, I think I was addinag to my own bottom line, and helping to promote individual items that Amazon sells--aka books.  And I've long been peeved at the stupidly complex layers of sales taxes that states, municipalities, towns, taxing districts, etc apply.  Sheesh, come up with a singular number and go with it, people.  You shouldn't need degrees in math and law to understand a sales receipt.

Now the fun starts.  I'm pretty sure that my e-book of Call the Rain has a link to The Paris Affair (note how I'm not including links, LOL).  And my website and blogs are littered with my associates ID.  And Facebook. And who knows where else I've managed to post links.  I assume they'll still work with the associates account going away, but I have a few hours of cleanup to do.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Carpe Libro

I spent years thinking that some day I wanted to write a book. Some day I would have time to go do research. Some day I would carefully plot a story. Before I had children, I was frequently bored. Once or twice I did pull out a laptop or a pad of paper and start scribbling sentences. I never made it very far before I realized that I didn’t know what I was doing, or before that mean little voice in my head would remind me that I was an engineer, not an English major. Surely I lacked some critical knowledge needed to write.  Surely if I was meant to be a writer, then a novel would simply flow out of me in a shower of sparkles and wonder.

Ironically, I didn’t write my first book until after my second child was born. Not just after the second child, but after my maternity leave was over and I was back at work. I did have a shorter schedule—only three days a week down from full time—but any woman who’s tried to juggle a career and a family knows that working fewer hours does not make the day job easier. If anything, it ups the pressure because you have to prove to your 60-hour-a-week-married-to-the-job colleagues that your 24 work week is as valuable as theirs.

Oh yeah, and baby number two had some major birth defects requiring multiple surgeries.

Sometimes I wonder whether I ever would have had the courage to write without my son’s health struggles. Back in those early days I really did wonder whether he would make it, and for how long.  There were so many unknowns and wait-and-sees about his development. We didn’t know if he would walk. If he would ever achieve bladder and bowel control. If he would struggle for energy and breath.

I finished my first NaNoWriMo, writing The End on the first draft of my first ever novel, from my son’s hospital room for surgery number four. He was eight months old at the time.

I’m still writing. Have finished a total of six manuscripts, and have published two so far. Some day I may even publish that first book (it probably needs a few more edits, though I swear it isn’t all bad).  I’m not a NYT bestseller. I’m not a Kindle millionaire. I try hard to ignore reviews and to not obsessively check author rankings (hint, bigger is not always better, and I’d love to swap my rank and my sales figures). I may never achieve any of those things. But if I quit now, I definitely won’t.

My son continues to inspire me. He learned to roll over the day after we came home from surgery number two (while he still had the glue-type stitches in his belly). He pulled himself to standing for the first time in the hospital crib while waiting for that fourth surgery. He is now six, and spending this week at soccer camp. He’s got some of the quickest feet on the field, and routinely runs circles around kids who are quite a bit taller than he is (alas, he has inherited my family’s lack of height). He is in many ways a miracle baby.  He still has health issues, though you couldn’t tell just by meeting him. He will have challenges in his life, and there is still a potential for big problems some day. His diagnosis casts a little shadow over us still. He gets a lot of hugs.

This week at the day job, a coworker passed away unexpectedly. I had just talked to him the afternoon before. He didn’t look like a man with less than twenty-four hours of life left. We weren’t close, and hadn’t even worked together very long, but he was very nice and very fair-minded and very good at his job. His sudden absence has left a hole in our work group. I can only imagine what his wife and children must be experiencing.

Life is unpredictable. You never know what is coming tomorrow, good or bad. When my son was a newborn with an uncertain future, I realized suddenly that all the reasons I’d never written a book don’t matter so much. Who cares if it sucks. Who cares if no one ever reads it. If I never write, then I will never find out.  And if I wait for “later”, “later” may not come. I’m writing because this is what I’ve always wanted to do.

Seize the day.  Write the book.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

#Free #Kindle #Romance

Did you get yours yet?  The Paris Affair is free on Kindle now through June 27th. 

And,you can read about the real 2013 Paris Air Show, which was probably far less exciting without Claire and Helmut.