8 - 2010

Amazon Fires Colorado Affiliates

Until this morning, I used Amazon affiliate links and ads (including a box in my right sidebar) to make a little extra money from this blog.

And by “a little,” I mean “very little.”

But the gravy train is over. Today, I got this fabulous e-mail from Amazon:

Dear Colorado-based Amazon Associate:

We are writing from the Amazon Associates Program to inform you that the Colorado government recently enacted a law to impose sales tax regulations on online retailers. The regulations are burdensome and no other state has similar rules. The new regulations do not require online retailers to collect sales tax. Instead, they are clearly intended to increase the compliance burden to a point where online retailers will be induced to “voluntarily” collect Colorado sales tax — a course we won’t take.

We and many others strongly opposed this legislation, known as HB 10-1193, but it was enacted anyway. Regrettably, as a result of the new law, we have decided to stop advertising through Associates based in Colorado. We plan to continue to sell to Colorado residents, however, and will advertise through other channels, including through Associates based in other states.

There is a right way for Colorado to pursue its revenue goals, but this new law is a wrong way. As we repeatedly communicated to Colorado legislators, including those who sponsored and supported the new law, we are not opposed to collecting sales tax within a constitutionally-permissible system applied even-handedly. The US Supreme Court has defined what would be constitutional, and if Colorado would repeal the current law or follow the constitutional approach to collection, we would welcome the opportunity to reinstate Colorado-based Associates.

You may express your views of Colorado’s new law to members of the General Assembly and to Governor Ritter, who signed the bill.

Your Associates account has been closed as of March 8, 2010, and we will no longer pay advertising fees for customers you refer to after that date. Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned prior to March 8, 2010, will be processed and paid in accordance with our regular payment schedule. Based on your account closure date of March 8, any final payments will be paid by May 31, 2010.

We have enjoyed working with you and other Colorado-based participants in the Amazon Associates Program, and wish you all the best in your future.

Best Regards,

The Amazon Associates Team

So, let’s get this straight: My legislature put into effect a law that, essentially, asks Amazon to voluntarily charge sales tax to Colorado buyers. They won’t do it. (Although … how complex could it be? Some states already require sales tax, so I would think it would be a matter of putting in some ZIP codes, putting in a sales tax percentage, and sending in some reports.) It has nothing to do with affiliate programs. But the best reaction is to cut me off from making money via Amazon.

I’m not clear on the details, because I’m not a retailer, and sales tax isn’t my number one issue. I’ve been too busy doing things like writing this blog and trying to find a way to make my few pennies off of Amazon’s occasional sales to my readers to be lobbying my statehouse, I guess.

Of course, Amazon can continue making money from all the links I have in my posts, and the many more links more ambitious bloggers have added. That won’t stop. And Amazon doesn’t have any problem with continuing to sell things to Coloradans. In short, they have no objection to making money from us, just to giving a little bit back.

But I’m supposed to get up in arms to support Amazon by making this my top personal issue.


Thankfully, Amazon has “enjoyed working with” me and wishes me “all the best.” Good for them. Meanwhile, goodbye Amazon links, and I would encourage you, if you want to buy on Amazon, to consider buying from your local retailer instead.

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