California Amazon Internet Sales Tax Referendum Gaining Momentum

Posted Posted in Amazon Tax, Internet Sales Taxes

It seems that the Amazon.com signature gatherers are having little trouble obtaining voter signatures to place the issue on the ballot.
Despite radio commercials that try to scare voters not to sign ballot petitions, signatures calling for a referendum on the so-called Amazon tax law requiring out-of-state Internet companies to collect sales taxes from California buyers are piling up. The necessary signatures to put the referendum on the ballot will likely be in hand well before the 90-day deadline.

The eager response on an opportunity to stop a tax comes at a time when tax talk may come back to the state capitol. Hoping for new revenue, the state budget included a failsafe — a trigger to be pulled mandating further cuts if billions in expected revenue does not show up.

Given the condition of the economy and the recent gyrations of the stock market concern is that the hoped-for money will not materialize. A rumor circulated around the Capitol yesterday that to avoid the “trigger” cuts, the governor might call a special legislative session focused on taxation.

The recently passed California Budget is a joke and based on false assumptions, including Amazon Internet Sales Taxes. There is little doubt that some adjustments will have to be made by the Governor and California Legislature since Amazon will not be collecting and remitting any taxes pror to the October 1 deadline (since by obtaining the necessary signatures, the tax is suspended.)

Whether the rumor has any validity or not, the rapid collection of signatures on the Amazon referendum sends a clear message — taxes are not welcome.

True, Amazon.com has invested $3 million in the signature effort and some argue that the financial support is what is driving the successful signature gathering.

However, the uncertainty over the economy has voters lining up to sign the petitions. As one voter said, ‘Saving $5 in taxes buys me another gallon of gasoline.’

Look for Amazon.com qualifying the referendum in record time and next June, Californians will vote on the issue – repealing the tax. One other interesting fact is that next June may see a record GOP turn out since it is possible that with a multi-candidate GOP Presidential Primary field, California will determine the Presidential nomination.

Note, the tax was sponsored by FAR LEFT Legislative Democrats at the behest and support of Wal-Mart, Barnes and Noble and Target.

We will see if those corporations will want to team up with the LEFT (haven’t they opposed Wal-Mart store construction across California) to campaign against their Republican customers.

Advocates for the Poor Urge Boycott of Amazon.com Over California Internet Sales Taxes

Posted Posted in Amazon Tax, Internet Sales Taxes

Good grief. It isn’t bad enough that businesses are leaving California and my income has been reduced because of this internet sales tax flap, but now the FAR LEFT low-income tax redistributionist groups are going specifically after Amazon.com.
Advocates for the poor will urge Californians today to boycott Amazon.com until the online retailer begins collecting sales taxes.

Representatives of the Health and Human Services Network of California will hold a news conference at 10:30 a.m. on the Capitol’s north steps asking state residents to close their Amazon.com accounts until the company stops fighting a law intended to force online retailers to collect California sales taxes.

The group will be joined by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland.

The Seattle-based retailer ponied up $3 million last month to collect signatures for a referendum that would overturn Assembly Bill X1 28. Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers enacted the measure as part of the June budget deal to raise $200 million a year.

“We’re asking people to think before they shop on Amazon and tell Amazon what they think,” said Nancy Berlin, director of the California Partnership, which advocates for health and social service funding. “We don’t have the kind of money and power Amazon does, but collectively we’re asking our people and others in our community who share our values to put their money where their values are.”

Amazon has not collected sales taxes on California purchases since the law was passed, believing the law does not apply because the retailer ended its relationship with California-based “affiliates” who refer customers to its website.

Amazon.com is working well within California law. What will not surprise me, will be, who is funding this group to come out and protest.

How does Wal-Mart, Target or other business competitors to Amazon.com sound?

Again, this law is a loser and an expensive political and legal turf war is not something that will benefit California taxpayers

Democrats Turn to Federal Internet Sales Tax Legislation for New Revenues After Debt Limit Battle

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Amazon Tax, Internet Sales Taxes

Now, the national Democrats want to tax the internet – just like in California, but now the entire country.
While the nation was captivated by the debt crisis – and whether tax increases would be part of any deal to reduce federal deficits – a group of Democratic senators and congressmen have rolled out legislation that would raise new revenues by targeting online sales from retailers like Wal-Mart and Best Buy.

These lawmakers say that states are losing billions in uncollected state and local sales tax on Internet sales and are touting the support of online retailers like Amazon who say they’re fine with an across-the-board system that would make tax collections simple.

I guess this is payback to Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target for their advocacy of taxing Amazon in California.

OH! The big retailers turf wars.

But small businesses say the new legislation is unfair and puts them at a cost disadvantage at a time when they can least afford it.

The bill introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., last week called the Main Street Fairness Act, has drawn support from several Democrats, including Sens. Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Reps. John Conyers of Michigan, Peter Welch of Vermont and Heath Shuler of North Carolina.

“Consumers shouldn’t have to face the burden of reporting all of their online purchases. Main Street retailers collect sales taxes on behalf of consumers, why shouldn’t online retailers do the same,” Durbin said in a statement Friday.

Durbin noted that states are expected to lose up to $24 billion in uncollected state and local taxes this year on Internet and catalog sales.

“This bill will level the playing field for local businesses, by ensuring that online retailers collect the same sales taxes that brick-and-mortar retailers already do,” Conyers said. “This will help our state and local governments avoid devastating layoffs and cuts to essential services vital to the well-being of our local communities.”

But several tech groups strongly oppose the bill.

More social justice, redistribution crap from the Dems and some big businesses will buy into it if it puts a dagger in the heart of a business rival.

How about not taxing internet sales at all?

No, the Democrats know where the money is and they want to tax, collect and spend it.

“Congress often says that small businesses are the backbone of the economic recovery, but these new collection costs will break the backs of many small online businesses,” said Steve, DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice, a tech trade group.

“It’s a cruel irony to call this job-killing bill the ‘Main Street Fairness Act,’” DelBianco added. “Online sales are about the only way small retailers can survive being steamrolled by the big-box chains who are behind this bill.”

Retailers are only required to collect sales tax in states where they also have a physical presence under a 1992 Supreme Court ruling known as the Quill decision. The high court ruled that a sales tax on out-of-state sellers would be an unconstitutional burden on interstate commerce because of the complexity of states’ and municipalities’ sales tax rules.

That means out-of-state retailers can offer their customers a discount online, but consumers have to report the sales tax owed on online purchases on their tax returns.

In response to the Quill decision, 44 states and the District of Columbia are working with local governments and the business community to adopt a sweeping interstate system to simplify their sales tax rules and administrative requirements, called the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement. So far, 24 states have changed their laws in compliance with this interstate agreement.

But the Quill decision said Congress would have to authorize such an agreement, which supporters say the bill does.

Looks like a money bill to me – for consultants, lobbyists and lawyers.

Watch the Democrats and then the Republicans milk this cash cow as Amazon.com and others line up to punish their competitors and screw the small business internet associate.

Amazon.com Inc., the largest online Internet retailer, threw its support behind the bill.

“Amazon.com has long supported a simple, nationwide system of state and local sales tax collection, evenhandedly applied to all sellers, no matter their business model, location, or level of remote sales,” Paul Misener, vice president of Amazon’s global public policy, said in a letter to Durbin that the Illinois senator included in a press release.

“To this end, I am writing to thank you for your bill that would allow states that sufficiently simplify their rules to require collection of sales tax by out-of-state sellers,” he wrote.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents more than 200 retailers, also supports the bill, saying it would end special treatment for online-only retailers and relieve consumers of the tax-reporting requirement.

“For too long, U.S. tax policy has favored online-only retailers over the brick-and-mortar stores that creates the jobs and serves our communities,” said Katherine Lugar, a spokeswoman for the association.

“Government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers by giving a handful of companies a competitive advantage over everyone else,” he said. “It’s time to close this decades-old loophole and level the playing field for all retailers.”

Good luck to Amazon.com now in winning their California referendum while at the same time supporting the argument for a federal system of internet sales tax collection.

Flap’s California Morning Collection: August 3, 2011

Posted Posted in Amazon Tax, California, California Citizens Redistricting Commission, Flap's California Morning Collection, Internet Sales Taxes, Tea Party

A morning collection of links and comments about my home, California.

For Central Coast Democrats, a prize and a problem

Democrats on California’s Central Coast were handed a rare prize last week when the Citizens Redistricting Commission created a Senate district with no incumbent and a 12-percentage point Democratic voter registration edge.

The race is already on to see who gets to claim the prize of becoming the party’s candidate, and it could be run on a track that is crowded, uncertain and potentially dangerous.

Three contestants have either reached or are approaching the starting line:

– Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara, a former assemblywoman who lost a Senate race in 2008 by fewer than 900 votes in a district that was much less friendly to a Democrat. She says she’s “seriously considering” becoming a candidate. “I’m very much leaning in that direction.”

– Jason Hodge of Oxnard, a Ventura County firefighter and an elected commissioner of the Oxnard Harbor District. Hodge has been planning a run for the Legislature for months, has formed a campaign committee and begun raising money. He says he’s definitely running and has “a full expectation to raise $1 million for this primary.”

– Pedro Nava of Santa Barbara, a former assemblyman and onetime member of the California Coastal Commission. He says he hasn’t made up his mind, but muses that the Senate district “almost looks like someone drew it for me.” Nava says that by Labor Day, “Everybody should have a sense of what’s real and what’s possible.”

None says he or she would shy away from a primary race in which there are multiple Democratic candidates.

Tea Party picks up steam, demands further cuts

National Tea Party leaders in California were thrilled about one by-product of the political bloodbath over raising the federal debt ceiling: The fight showed that after two years of rabble-rousing from outside the Capitol, the Tea Party has real power to shape the debate in Washington.

Their challenge now that President Obama has signed the debt limit law: Can the Tea Party transform its government-shrinking mantra into long-term power, or will it be a one-hit wonder?

They’re not stopping to think about it. This month, Tea Partiers will storm town hall meetings of Republican and Democratic members of Congress and demand even more cuts. It’s the same strategy Tea Party groups used two years ago to protest – and ultimately water down – the health care reform law when they burst on the national scene.

“You’re going to see a lot of heat at those meetings,” said Mark Meckler, a Grass Valley (Nevada County) resident and co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, a national organization that called House Speaker John Boehner’s plan to lift the ceiling “an embarrassment.”

Tea Partiers say the debt deal didn’t cut enough federal spending, was crafted behind closed doors, and assigned responsibility for further cuts to a small, joint committee of Congress.

That heat will be stoked further on Aug. 27 in Napa, when thousands of supporters and at least two GOP presidential candidates are expected to attend a rally to start a Tea Party Express bus trip across the country. It will end in Tampa, where the group will co-host a Republican presidential debate with CNN.

Two years ago, the idea of the Tea Party co-hosting a debate with the self-proclaimed “most trusted name in news” was unimaginable.

Dan Walters: Remapping of California districts still on a rocky road

So the state’s new redistricting commission, after countless hours of hearings, discussions and mind-numbing exercises in specific line-drawing, has produced its almost-final maps of 177 legislative, congressional and Board of Equalization districts.

What now?

Partisan and independent analysts have cranked up their computers, and their scenarios generally agree that the proposed districts, which need one more commission vote this month, would result in a Democratic gain of congressional seats and give Democrats a strong chance to claim two-thirds majorities in both legislative houses.

Whether those conclusions become reality, however, would depend on what happens in “swing” districts – those potentially winnable by either party – in the 2012 and 2014 election cycles. And their dynamics would be affected by the new and untested “top two” primary system.

It’s “would” rather than “will” because it’s uncertain whether the Citizens Redistricting Commission’s maps will actually go into effect, since they are subject to attack by those – Republicans, mostly – who believe they got the shaft.

Critics could challenge the maps by referendum – collecting signatures to put them on the 2012 ballot – and if a referendum qualifies, the state Supreme Court would adopt temporary maps for the 2012 elections.

It could simply decree that the commission’s maps be used for 2012 while voters decide their permanent fate.

That’s what the court, headed by Chief Justice Rose Bird, decided when a Republican referendum challenged the 1981 maps adopted by a Democratic Legislature and then-Gov. Jerry Brown – a ruling that fueled a drive to oust Bird in the 1986 election.

Or the Supreme Court could draw its own maps, as it did to break redistricting stalemates after the 1970 and 1990 censuses.

Attorney general, FPPC asked to investigate identity theft ads

The state attorney general and California’s campaign watchdog agency have been asked to investigate a new labor-backed group telling voters that signing initiative petitions increases risk of identity fraud.

Carl DeMaio, a San Diego councilman supporting an effort to qualify a local pension reform measure, filed a complaint over the weekend with the Fair Political Practices Commission alleging that Californians Against Identity Theft is running afoul of state disclosure laws and “knowingly using false information to alarm voters and stifle the constitutionally protected rights of individuals” in the radio spots and website it launched last week.

In a separate letter, DeMaio asked state Attorney General Kamala Harris to investigate the ad and other activities he said are “undermining the initiative process” for San Diego voters.

As The Bee reported Friday, the organization behind the ads has received funding from the California Building and Construction Trades Council. The secretary-treasurer of the group, a retired attorney who formerly represented the union, declined to identify other contributors Friday. He said Californians Against Identity Theft, which has not filed a campaign committee, has been incorporated as a 501(c)4 nonprofit.

Californians Against Identity Theft’s 60-second radio ad, which is airing on stations in Sacramento and Southern California, urges listeners not to sign initiative petitions.Organizers say the effort is intended to educate the public about a need for more regulation of the initiative system, particularly the paid-signature gathering industry. But the ad came under fire Friday from good government and consumer advocates who said its claims were largely unsubstantiated and the timing sparked questions about whether the real goal of the campaign is to derail efforts to qualify measures circulating for local or statewide elections.

Attorneys for a statewide proposal to overturn a new online sales tax collection law have also taken aim at the effort, asking radio stations to stop airing the ad amid concerns that it is “filled with false and misleading statements.” The “Amazon Tax” referendum is one of several high-profile measures currently collecting petition signatures to qualify for the 2012 ballot.

Enjoy your morning!

California’s Online Marketers Hit Hard by Amazon Internet Sales Taxes

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Amazon Tax, Internet Sales Taxes


It is just starting.
But for the thousands of affiliates in the state now set adrift by Amazon and Overstock, another major out-of-state player, the law is an unfair and misguided attempt to raise revenues on the backs of struggling mom-and-pop businesses.

Rather than bring in tax dollars, they say, it will instead drive away scores of entrepreneurs California needs to innovate its way out of its economic malaise.

“None of us are against a level playing field,” said Robert Smahl with privately held Ebates, an online shopping site in San Francisco with 50 employees. “But this is not the way to do it. You’ve just penalized a small segment of people who don’t have the money to fight the legislation. I don’t think the lawmakers understand that this won’t change anything and it won’t hurt Amazon at all.”

Many affiliates getting hurt are pint-size, like Silicon Valley mom-blogger Tina Case’s Moms Who Click, a camera-buff site that brings in a few hundred dollars monthly.

Her husband works, so she’ll simply lose “the icing on the cake.” Still, she’s angry.

“The law is ridiculous. If the purpose is to generate tax revenues, then by putting affiliates out of business the state’s losing the income taxes we were paying. This will hurt the economy more than help it.”

More than 70 affiliates have already left California, say fellow site-owners, in some cases after being wooed by states such as Texas and Arizona that are anxious to reel in business-tax revenue to shore up their own battered budgets. Other affiliates are brainstorming new business models that would allow them to keep their sites up and running. And still others are waiting to see if an Amazon-backed initiative to roll back the law makes it onto the ballot early next year.

Keith Posehn, a San Diego marketer who’s considering leaving the state after losing 30 percent of his revenue, says the new law complicates an already cutthroat business.

The largest of online marketers will leave California and set up across the border in Nevada or Arizona. Others will just absorbed reduced earning capacity and spend less and hope the law changes.

In the meantime, the “little guy” gets hurt while the Big Box Brick and Mortar stores duke it out with Amazon in the political arena.

But, don’t say I didn’t tell you so months ago.

By the way, this issue of internet sales taxation will not be settled until there is some federal legislation or a decision by a federal appellate court on the nexus issue.