Amazon Cuts California Affiliates Loose Over New Tax Law

Amazon has notified all California residents who participate in its affiliates program that a new tax law means they will no longer receive fees for referring site traffic that resulted in a sale.

The bill requires that online retailers charge sales taxes on purchases even where their “presence” is not physical but through affiliates. Amazon had warned participants yesterday that it would have to turn off the program later this year if the bill was signed, and Gov. Jerry Brown made it official later in the day.

There’s some question as to whether the law will be challenged in court on the grounds that it violates federal law, because it is broader than similar laws that have led to Amazon cutting affiliate programs in Connecticut, Arkansas and other states. In states where it has a physical presence, such as its Washington home base, Amazon does charge sales taxes.

In a statement, Paul Misener, Amazon VP of Global Public Policy, said, “This legislation is counterproductive and will not cause our retail business to collect sales tax for the state.”

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald