In what could be a test of your principles versus your ability to buy Season Four of "Mad Men" at a really low price, a coalition of anti-poverty groups is calling for Californians to boycott Amazon.com over the online sales tax issue.
"If Amazon.com is unwilling to abide by the same laws as everyone else and contribute to the collective well-being of our state, then I have no choice but to close my account and end my contributions to Amazon.com."
Such transactions have previously been exempt because of a Supreme Court decision ruling that states cannot require companies without a physical presence in-state to collect sales tax, even if the company conducts business in that state.
California tried to circumvent that prohibition by expanding the definition of what constitutes an in-state presence. The new law stipulates that a presence is established if sellers own a subsidiary in the state, or by a relationship with "affiliates," web sites that refer buyers to the retailer's site.
Amazon immediately responded to the law by severing ties with its California affiliates. Then, a couple of weeks later, it filed a formal request for a referendum to overturn the law. The company needs to submit about 504,000 signatures by mid-October in order for it to qualify.
Amazon has said it will not collect the sales tax because it's unconstitutional, among other reasons.
KQED's Joshua Johnson today talked to East Bay State Sen. Loni Hancock, who co-authored the bill and is supporting the boycott. Here's what she had to say; an edited transcript follows the audio clip.
The legislation passed this spring is incredibly important. It creates a level playing field for California-based businesses because it requires out-of -state online retailers to collect and pay the same sales tax that all our local companies and communities do.
Right now there are a lot of angry Californians because Amazon, a multi-billion dollar corporation, refuses to comply with the law and is trying to take advantage of California's initiative and referendum process to repeal the bill that was just passed and signed by the governor at a time when we need to have our local businesses survive and thrive and not be undercut by big out of state corporations, and at a time when the state needs all the revenue that is owed us because we're talking about children's education, our libraries, our parks, our roads, the things that the sales tax is used to buy for Californians.
A large coalition of people has come together just as they did around the attempt by Texas oil companies to repeal California's clean air laws last year, and are saying just say no to this….
Maybe so. But a poll conducted last month found support for the tax of 46%, with 49% opposing it.
We have a request out to Amazon now for comment.