Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Amazon and State Sales Tax

Amazon's 'No Sales Tax' Advantage Could Soon End in Massachusetts. "Gov. Deval Patrick said the state hopes to soon seal a deal with Amazon.com that will have the online giant collect and pass on sales taxes from online purchases made by Bay State residents -- one of many recent efforts to strip Internet merchants' of the unfair price advantage they gain by not charging those sales taxes."

I do buy a lot of things from Amazon so this will cost me directly but I think it's a good thing.

A 1992 Supreme Court decision, Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, decided that states can't impose sales tax unless the business has some physical presence in the state. The idea was that complying with the tax codes of 50 states and and more localities would be too much of a burden on the young commercial Internet. As a result, internet companies had an unfair price advantage over traditional local shops, particularly as shipping costs came down. As more and more commerce moved online, it meant that states were collecting fewer and fewer taxes. That and the recession have really hurt state and local budgets and has meant more layoffs of public workers.

There have been movements towards collecting sales tax on internet sales for a while and companies like Amazon have fought hard to resist it, since it is a big price advantage for them. But Amazon Sees Silver Lining With Sales Tax Collections. "Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, has figured out that if the company is going to be subject to sales tax anyway for having a presence, why not have a bigger presence? And so the building begins. The result of all of these centers? You guessed it: faster delivery."

So now there will be more warehouses and that does mean more jobs, even if they aren't that great.

Morning Call wrote Inside Amazon's Warehouse a year ago, describing "brutal heat, dizzying pace at online retailer". Mother Jones published I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave this March. Though in May Amazon promised to improve working conditions. "Jeff Bezos, CEO of the online retail giant, said at the annual shareholders meeting on Thursday that Amazon would be spending $52 million to retrofit its warehouses with air conditioners." And then in July they said they would offer "full-time employees up to $2,000 a year in college and vocational training tuition assistance -- even if they plan to leave the company".

Anyway, I better go order those items on wish lists I was putting off for a little bit...

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