Group calls for boycott of Amazon, but Main Street Fairness Act is real fix

In an announcement earlier today, California “State Senator Loni Hancock (D-Oakland), Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon (D-Montebello), and Assembly member Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) joined dozens of California seniors, low-income families, people with disabilities, and health care and human services advocates” to launch the ThinkBeforeYouClickCA.org website opposing Amazon’s ballot referendum against California’s online sales tax collection legislation. The website urges people to cancel their Amazon accounts in protest of Amazon’s actions:

Every Californian has been affected by the cuts to balance California’s budget, none more than low-income seniors, students and people with disabilities. Now, online retail giant Amazon.com wants to overturn the one small victory we won this year in our campaign to close corporate tax loopholes: the Sales Tax law that would require online vendors to collect sales tax just as California’s “bricks and mortar” vendors do. This law will provide California with $200 million in desperately needed revenues to prevent further cuts to vital public services, while helping local business by closing the loophole that lets online retailers like Amazon.com undercut them. 

Fight back by telling Amazon.com to play by the same rules all other California businesses do! If Amazon.com is unwilling to contribute to the well-being of our state, then we need to tell Amazon.com that we won’t contribute to their profits!

According to a related Associated Press article, Amazon has spent $3 million to support its ballot referendum against California’s legislation.

While we understand why groups oppose the ballot referendum, there is a much better solution for everyone. The Main Street Fairness Act, now pending before Congress (S.1452 / H.R. 2701), would authorize states to require all retailers to collect sales tax—which would both level the playing field for bricks-and-mortar retailers and ensure that states receive the sales tax revenue that is already due and is needed to fund vital community services. What’s more, it will make collecting sales tax easier for all businesses.

Best of all, this is something that Amazon and California legislators can agree on—both support the Main Street Fairness Act. Whether you support or oppose California’s sales tax legislation, the Main Street Fairness Act makes more sense. It makes everyone play by the same rules, prevents further budget cuts, makes sale tax collection easier for businesses, and helps keep people employed (both by letting retailers keep their affiliates and by helping local retailers stay in business).

California’s Board of Equalization estimates that the state lost $1.145 billion in 2010 because most online retailers didn’t collect sales tax. As the Supreme Court ruled in 1967 (Bellas Hess) and 1992 (Quill), the only road toward recovering that lost revenue goes through Washington, D.C., via the Main Street Fairness Act—as we have said before.

Amazon has publicly stated that it supports the Main Street Fairness Act. Amazon’s Vice President for Global Public Policy, Paul Misener, even sent a letter thanking Senator Dick Durbin for introducing the bill:

Amazon.com has long supported a simple, nationwide system of state and local sales tax collection, evenhandedly applied to all sellers, no matter their business model, location, or level of remote sales.  To this end, I am writing to thank you for your bill that would allow states that sufficiently simplify their rules to require collection of sales tax by out-of-state sellers.

If you’re thinking about boycotting Amazon, consider putting your energy into supporting the Main Street Fairness Act instead. Contact your representative in Congress and let them know that the Main Street Fairness Act is the best solution for everyone. (Plus, it lets you keep your Amazon account.)

4 Responses to Group calls for boycott of Amazon, but Main Street Fairness Act is real fix

  1. R. Kumar says:

    It is rather naive to believe Amazon’s sincerity in its support of Federal legislation. They have smartly calculated that the anti-any-tax tea party will be their proxy to torpedo it in congress. Note that even Sen. Enzi, (R-WY) who had sponsored this bill in the last congress has steered clear of this political landmine leaving this bill as a Democrat-only sponsored legislation.
    The Amazon boycott I am afraid will also be an exercise in spinning wheels. Voters and shoppers vote and click their pocketbook. Enlightened choices are for others not self. This is cynical but true.
    The courts are the only sheriffs in town and the online sales tax proponents should try to expedite the legal proceedings to shoot for a fair chance of the supreme court reversing the Quill vs. N.Dakota ruling in light of contemporary state of technology for the smallest of the small retailer complying with any and all “welter of different and complex regulations” without much difficulty and cost.

    • FedTax says:

      Good afternoon Mr. Kumar,

      Thank you for your input, although we must admit we do not seem to agree with most of your opinions.

      – We do not believe Amazon’s support for the Main Street Fairness Act is disingenuous. It may be a matter of opinion, but the fact that two high-ranking Amazon executives (Jeff Bezos and Paul Misener) have publicly expressed their support of the bill, more than once, is pretty convincing to us.

      – We do not believe the Tea Party will oppose this legislation; it supports states’ rights, and the Main Street Fairness Act empowers states to decide how (and whether) sales tax is collected online.

      – We do not believe Senator Enzi has “steered clear” of the bill; actually, we’ve found him and several other Republican members of Congress to be quite supportive. Timing with the Debt Ceiling debates may have prevented these members from cosponsoring, but we believe there will be strong bi-partisan support after the recess.

      – We do not believe this issue will go back to the Supreme Court, for at least two reasons:

        1. The court already ruled on this matter twice, and in the second of those rulings — Quill, which you cited — they specifically placed the issue of remote sales tax collection before Congress.

        2. Even if the court were to re-evaluate the Quill decision based on new facts, they still would not be authorized to change the law, and they would still have to send the issue back to Congress for resolution.

      We do agree with you on one point, however — contemporary technology (such as TaxCoud) absolutely enables even the smallest retailers to comply with the proposed legislation with little difficulty, and at no cost.

      Thank you again for your input!

      • R. Kumar says:

        I hope you are right in your optimism about the prospects for Sen.Durbin’s bill and I couldn’t be more happier. And I am encouraged to read Sen.Boozman’s (R-AR) guarded support of the bill.

        But the pushback opinions I see in the blogosphere from the anti-tax camp gives me pause. Here is a sampler:

        FreedomWorks: Stop the Internet Sales Tax
        http://commonamericanjournal.com/?p=28040

        An Open Letter to Fiscal Conservatives in the Senate: The “Main Street Fairness Act” Is a Dead-End Street for Taxpayers and Small Businesses!
        http://www.ntu.org/news-and-issues/taxes/business/an-open-letter-to-fiscal.html

        As regards Amazon’s support for Sen.Durbin’s bill, I will believe it when they put some money where their mouth is, considering the costly lobbying and legal effort and expense they are putting in to frustrate state-level legislation in CA, TX, TN, SC etc.

      • R. Kumar says:

        In the news this morning: That is why I am not too sanguine about Sen. Durbin bill:

        US senator sees regs on online taxes years off
        Senator: Federal regulations for online sales taxes for retailers like Amazon 3 to 4 years off
        http://finance.yahoo.com/news/US-senator-sees-regs-on-apf-3371721263.html

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