Maine has just joined the ever-growing list of states ineligible for the Amazon Associates affiliate program. The retail giant will shortly be terminating affiliate activity in the state, and sending out unpaid earnings to participants, in response to governor Paul LePage’s recent state tax legislation.
There has been a growing trend of states passing legislation redefining what constitutes a “local business presence,” widening the definition in order to grab a slice of online sales. States usually require that businesses with a physical presence within their borders collect sales tax from buyers—unless that state does not have a sales tax, in the case of New Hampshire. Out-of-state businesses are not obligated to unless they have a physical presence in the state in question. What the states have been doing is defining members of affiliate programs as a physical presence, so if a Mainer puts Amazon affiliate links on his or her blog, Amazon must collect sales tax for any sales they make to Maine residents. Understandably, this is something online retailers prefer to avoid, as it complicates accounting.
Below is the message sent to members of the program:
Greetings from the Amazon Associates Program.
We’re writing from the Amazon Associates Program to notify you that your Associates account will be closed and your Amazon Services LLC Associates Program Operating Agreement will be terminated effective October 6, 2013. This is a direct result of the unconstitutional Maine state tax collection legislation passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor LePage on June 5, 2013, with an effective date of October 9, 2013. As a result, we will no longer pay any advertising fees for customers referred to an Amazon Site after October 6, nor will we accept new applications for the Associates Program from Maine residents.
Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned prior to October 7, 2013, will be processed and paid in full in accordance with your regular advertising fee schedule. Based on your account closure date of October 6, 2013, any final payments will be paid by December 31, 2013.
While we oppose this unconstitutional state legislation, we strongly support the federal Marketplace Fairness Act now pending before Congress. Congressional legislation is the only way to create a simplified, constitutional framework to resolve interstate sales tax issues and it would allow us to re-open our Associates program to Maine residents.
We thank you for being part of the Amazon Associates Program, and look forward to re-opening our program when Congress passes the Marketplace Fairness Act.
The Amazon Associates Team