If you are part of Amazon's Associates Program, you might have received the following e-mail recently:
Greetings from the Amazon Associates Program:We regret to inform you that the Illinois state legislature has passed an unconstitutional tax collection scheme that, if signed by Governor Quinn, would leave Amazon.com little choice but to end its relationships with Illinois-based Associates. You are receiving this email because our records indicate that you are a resident of Illinois. If our records are incorrect, you can manage the details of your Associates account here.Please note that this not an immediate termination notice and you are still a valued participant in the Amazon Associates Program. But if the governor signs this bill, we will need to terminate the participation of all Illinois residents in the Associates Program. After that point, we will no longer pay any advertising fees for sales referred to amazon.com, endless.com and smallparts.com nor will we accept new applications for the Associates Program from Illinois residents.
The unfortunate consequences of this legislation on Illinois residents like you were explained to the legislature, including Senate and House leadership, as well as to the governor's staff.Over a dozen other states have considered essentially identical legislation but have rejected these proposals largely because of the adverse impact on their states' residents.Governor Quinn's office may be reached here.We thank you for being part of the Amazon Associates Program, and wish you continued success in the future.Sincerely,Amazon.com
Now, what's really happening is the following. The state of Illinois (where I happen to live) is broke. Governor Quinn is trying to cover our enormous budget deficits through measures he had announced in his election campaign. One of such measures is removing the unfair advantage on-line retailers have over other sellers and making them pay sales tax, just like everybody else:
Here is more on this new tax and how it's supposed to work:Illinois lawmakers have passed what's been dubbed the "Amazon tax." It's not a new tax; it's just a way to collect money that's already due the state. The legislation forces online retailers like Amazon and overstock.com to collect the state's six and a quarter percent sales tax on purchases. Smaller businesses support the measure, saying online retailers who don't collect the state sales have an advantage over them. The legislation now goes to the Governor's desk for approval.
The law would require Internet retailers that sell through affiliates in Illinois, and which sell at least $10,000 each year to Illinois residents, to collect the taxes, says a spokesman for state Senate president John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat backing the bill. “The bill treats online merchants more like bricks-and-mortar merchants,” the spokesman says. “The retailer would be responsible for collecting the tax.” He notes that the bill covers only online retailers that have affiliates in Illinois in an effort to satisfy a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says only web merchants that have a presence within a given state must collect taxes there. The spokesman could give no estimate about how much Illinois might collect from such a tax, but, previously, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Revenue told Internet Retailer the state could recoup $150 million annually from the use tax.
Now the Amazon is trying to manipulate members of its Associates program to apply political pressure on the Governor. The company doesn't give a rat's ass whether this state goes completely bankrupt, whether its schools close and the roads crumble down. Amazon doesn't believe that it has to pay taxes just like everybody else. Let's not let this company manipulate us into undermining our own state! In the 1,5 years that I have lived in Illinois, I have come to love this great state. I want to see it prosper and flourish. And if Amazon doesn't care about the residents of this state, we should.
I am a member of Amazon Associates program. Obviously, I don't want to be denied access to the program. However, I realize that there are more important things at stake here. I will be writing a letter to Governor Quinn today, urging him to pass this legislation and expressing my support for his efforts to cover the deficit through these practical measures. Friends, don't let Amazon manipulate you! The citizens of Illinois have spoken and elected Governor Quinn. Now we should let him do his job. And Amazon can go kill itself against a wall, as we say in my culture. If they want to lose all the profit its Illinois Associates bring them just because they are too greedy to pay a sales tax, so be it.