by Tom Gilson, Associate Editor (gilsont@cofc.edu)

There has been a lot of recent buzz about the proposed boycott of Amazon by a coalition of non-profits in California.  According to the Huffington Post one of the groups behind the boycott, Think Before You Click CA, claims that the sales tax will bring in $200 million  in “desperately needed revenues to prevent further cuts to vital public services, while helping local business by closing the loophole that lets online retailers like Amazon.com undercut them.”  However, Amazon is fighting back contributing $3million to a group called More Jobs Not Taxes  whose goal is to repeal the new California law expanding the collection of California sales tax to Internet retailers.  Supporters of Amazon, and the repeal of the Internet sales tax, claim that “at a time when unemployment is over 11% in California, we need to be creating more jobs and fostering economic growth, not passing tax legislation that undermines small businesses.”  Adding to the controversy is the claim by the website Geekwire that “the Alliance for Main Street Fairness, which was so successful in bringing about the victory in Illinois against Amazon, was founded by Wal-Mart and other big-box retailers.”

Obviously, this is a complicated issue with multiple stakeholders and numerous ramifications.  However, ATG wants to know where you stand?  Should online retailers like Amazon be exempt from charging sales tax on their products?  Or is this an unfair tax advantage that penalizes brick and mortar stores? How would this impact publishers who sell books via Amazon? Assuming that such laws create additional tax revenue, would libraries ever see any of the money?  Or are supporters of Amazon right, would jobs be lost, undermining economic growth and risking an overall decreased tax revenue?  Let us know what you think.