[Note, if you're looking for an alternative, you might try VigLink; I'm giving that a shot now to see how it goes.]
Well, it happened. First and foremost, I’ve always tried to make my blog interesting to readers interested in technology & energy, and in the process I’ve sometimes linked out to relevent products on Amazon, to make me a little beer money. I’ve tried not to be too annoying or gratuitous about it, but it did help a little to offset the ISP charges etc. But today I got this email:
We are 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 June 30, 2013. This is a direct result of the unconstitutional Minnesota state tax collection legislation passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor Dayton on May 23, 2013, with an effective date of July 1, 2013. As a result, we will no longer pay any advertising fees for customers referred to an Amazon Site after June 30 nor will we accept new applications for the Associates Program from Minnesota residents.
As near as I can tell, Amazon has neatly evaded the law, which added:
(b) A retailer is presumed to have a solicitor in this state if it enters into an agreement with a resident under which the resident, for a commission or other substantially similar consideration, directly or indirectly refers potential customers, whether by a link on an Internet Web site, or otherwise, to the seller.
So: Chuck out all the affiliates, collect no tax, done and done. The state is no better off, and the bloggers in the state are worse off. This is exactly what has happened in other states, so it should come as no surprise to our esteemed legislators. I get it that states are hurting from dropping sales tax from brick and mortar stores and are looking for solutions, but it should have been obvious to anyone paying attention that this law would have very little effect when it’s this simple for places like Amazon to avoid it.
I was tempted to purge all links to Amazon from the blog – why send my good readers there for free? ;) But going forward, I guess I’ll try VigLink, which is sort of an affiliate of affiliates, and seems immune from this kind of thing, at least for now. It looks trivial to switch over to w/o needing to go fix up any existing articles. Hopefully it won’t make me look too craven; I’ll fine tune it as we go along.