Amazon cancels Minnesota affiliates

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 relevant 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.

Update: Viglink isn’t an option; they won’t reaffiliate if you’re in a “nexus” state.  Trying out skimlinks now…

9 thoughts on “Amazon cancels Minnesota affiliates

  1. Thanks for linking to the actual law(s) in question. I got this email today too. Impressed with google that this blog post showed up in the 1st page of search results when I started looking for more information. I don’t make a lot of money from amazon either (practically nothing, really), but this really came out of nowhere for me. Very interesting.

    • Heh, yeah, isn’t google amazing? ;)

      You’re welcome for the link. I’ve been frustrated too that with all the reporting about the new law, nobody ever names it or links to it to find out what’s really in there. Open gov’t isn’t helpful if nobody uses it.

  2. I would warn you about VigLink. I am in Illinois, and I had the same experience you had with Amazon two years ago. VigLink worked really, really well until today, when I received a notice from VigLink that they would no longer be able to pay out on Amazon links for publishers in any state where Amazon had cancelled the affiliate program. They listed North Carolina, Illinois, Colorado, Rhode Island, and Arkansas as the states banned, but I can only imagine that Minnesota will soon be added to that list.

    I’m sorry that your state legislature was as uninformed as mine. They’ve done nothing but hurt your state.

  3. Geesh. I hadn’t even noticed that. I thought it was just pulling my state from my PayPal account. Well, this will make for an interesting experiment.

  4. I make over $1,000 a month from Amazon – about half of my monthly income (other half from Google Adsense) so this is a huge blow to me. I don’t know what to do. I live half way between Mankato and the Iowa border so I suppose I could move to Iowa since it’s not too far away and apartments are cheap there. It would suck as I don’t really like Iowa but at least I could keep my business and I would still be close to family and friends. It would hopefully be temporary until either the Marketplace Fairness Act gets passed or Minnesota sues Amazon (or vice verse) or I find a way around this stupid thing such as starting a LLC in another state. I’m going on vacation for 3 weeks starting July 4 so I only have 2 weeks to figure out what to do (I’m secretly hoping that this is all one big misunderstanding and Amazon will change their mind before July 1).

    • I am sorry to hear that. I wonder if you could get a sympathetic relative in another state to “own” your affiliate account and work out an arrangement…

  5. I also received this email.. my account was terminated… but I have no idea what caused this, I don’t have any amazon sites, the last one I used amazon affiliate links was maybe 2 years ago but I have never ever earned anything… -.-

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