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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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik