John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Amazon to New York State: Drop Dead

As one of the original 13 colonies, you’d think that New York State would have a particular antipathy toward things like “taxation without representation.” And perhaps it does, just not when it’s the one doing the taxing.

The state recently passed a so-called Amazon Tax, a new law compelling out-of-state online retailers to start collecting New York sales tax. The law, designed to recover sales taxes potentially lost to Internet purchases, requires any e-tailer with even a single affiliate site with a New York State address–say, a blog that earns a referral fee for sending customers to Amazon (AMZN)–to collect sales tax on all goods sold in the state, even those not sold through the affiliate.

Its authors say it will contribute about $50 million to the state’s budget, and it might, if Amazon doesn’t get it declared unconstitutional first. Earlier this week, the company filed a suit challenging the law because it imposes tax-collection obligations on retailers, online and off, with no physical presence in the state. Worse, it does so based on nothing more than advertising in New York, a definition that includes retailers with even the slightest connection to the state.

Said Amazon: “This statute was intended to impose tax-collection obligations on out-of-state Internet retailers such as Amazon. Nonetheless, the statute, as drafted, on its face would also impose tax-collection obligations on non-Internet out-of-state retailers who pay New York print media, television or radio outlets to advertise their products and thereby refer New York customers to buy them.”


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus