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.

No comments: