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Amazon to California: Drop dead!

July 14, 2011 | 10:57 am

Amazonian Ever wonder what happened to all those anti-income-tax goofballs? You know, the ones who refuse to pay federal income taxes because they say they're unconstitutional?

Did they all get together and form an Internet-only retailer? And name it Amazon.com?

Amazon has done pretty well too. Of course, your business might too if you could offer customers a 7.25% discount -- because you refuse to collect California sales taxes.

Now, Amazon says it isn't collecting sales taxes because it doesn't have to; that it has the Constitution on its side. (Oh, and if you want to buy a copy of the Constitution to check that out, it has that too; in fact, you can get "The Constitution, The Declaration of Independence, and the Articles of Confederation" [Paperback] for just $4.95.)

Mind you, Amazon isn't hurting for cash; it's first-quarter revenue this year was almost $10 billion. But when California passed a law seeking to force it to collect sales taxes, what did it do?

It took its ball and went home, severing ties with thousands of affiliates in California. And it vowed to put the issue before California voters, pushing for a referendum as early as February to overturn the law.

 Plus, it brought out the ultimate hammer these days: jobs.  

"This is a referendum on jobs and investment in California," said Paul Misener, Amazon's vice president of global public policy in Washington, D.C. "We support this referendum against the recent sales tax legislation because, with unemployment at well over 11%, Californians deserve a voice and a choice about jobs, investment and the state's economic future."

And if you believe that, I have a bridge I'll sell you (although you'll have to pay the sales tax).

But hey, while we're all voting, why don't we also ask Californians if they think they should have to obey the speed limit? Can't we just ignore those pesky stop signs? And income taxes: Do we have to pay those too? 

Vote! Vote! Vote!

At least we'll be creating jobs, and lots of them -- for poll workers.

Folks, you may not like all the laws we have. You may not agree with all of them. You can certainly try to get the Legislature to change them.  

But you're supposed to obey them. 

That's you, me -- and giant Internet retailers. (Don't think so?  Then order your "Constitutional Law: The Quick Guide" [Kindle Edition] from Amazon. It's free if you have a Kindle. Don't have a Kindle?  Amazon has those too: $139 and free shipping.)

Let's get real. Amazon can talk all it wants about the Constitution and jobs and the like, but here's the bottom line, I think: Amazon doesn't want to collect sales taxes because it would hurt its business.

And the people who support Amazon?  They want a good deal, regardless of how they get it.

And everything else is just smoke and mirrors.


Are you an online tax cheat?

Amazon sales tax battle centers on jobs

California tells online retailers to start collecting sales taxes from customers

Apple denied injunction to stop Amazon's use of 'appstore' name; trial date set

-- Paul Whitefield 

Photo: Katherine Braun sorts packages at an Amazon.com fulfillment center in Goodyear, Ariz. Credit: Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press

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