Sometimes the news happens to you when you least expect it. I drove up from Springfield, Missouri to my brother’s house in St. Charles, on the way to GenCon in Indianapolis. As I was rolling through Rolla, I pulled off into a parking lot to check my email via convenient hotel wifi and found this missive waiting for me:
Greetings from the Amazon Associates Program.
We are writing from the Amazon Associates Program to notify you that your Associates account will be closed and your Amazon Services LLC Associates Program Operating Agreement will be terminated effective August 27, 2013. This is a direct result of the unconstitutional Missouri state tax collection legislation passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor Nixon on July 5, 2013, with an effective date of August 28, 2013. As a result, we will no longer pay any advertising fees for customers referred to an Amazon Site after August 27 nor will we accept new applications for the Associates Program from Missouri residents.
Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned prior to August 28, 2013 will be processed and paid in full in accordance with your regular advertising fee schedule. Based on your account closure date of August 27, 2013, any final payments will be paid by October 31, 2013.
While we oppose this unconstitutional state legislation, we strongly support the federal Marketplace Fairness Act now pending before Congress. Congressional legislation is the only way to create a simplified, constitutional framework to resolve interstate sales tax issues and it would allow us to re-open our Associates program to Missouri residents.
We thank you for being part of the Amazon Associates Program, and look forward to re-opening our program when Congress passes the Marketplace Fairness Act.
The Amazon Associates Team
Amazon is referring to Missouri Senate Bill 23 (PDF), which requires Internet businesses with affiliate programs in Missouri to collect sales tax as if they had physical facilities there. Missouri joins Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, and a number of other states in imposing affiliate tax laws and having Amazon promptly terminate doing affiliate business there.
The issue, from Amazon’s point of view, is not actually one of not wanting to hand over the money. It’s that Amazon doesn’t want to get saddled with the bureaucracy of having to keep track of fifty different sales tax codes in fifty different states. The Marketplace Fairness Act, its supporters hold, would simplify and unify the state sales tax codes so they would not impose so much trouble and expense to keep track. According to Wikipedia, the bill’s supporters include other retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart as well. Not a big surprise, given that they already have to honor those fifty different sales tax codes and would undoubtedly like that simplicity as much as Amazon would.
I had signed up for an affiliate account some time ago, but never actually got around to using it. My own essay blog went defunct after Google made a change in how Blogger blogs were published and I never got around to reviving it elsewhere. I had been thinking about starting to use it in light of considering self-publishing a book or two myself, but I guess that is not to be.
I do feel sorry for those, such as TeleRead reader Moriah Jovan, who just lost a source of income they already had, however.