Battle Lines Redrawn in Web Sales Tax War

Jeremy Bray received an e-mail message this morning with an unwelcome surprise: told him it had canceled its affiliate program, which provides small payments for referring customers, for everyone in the state of Colorado.

The reason? A state law, which Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter signed last week, slaps onerous new restrictions on large out-of-state sellers like Amazon, which said it has no choice but to end its marketing program in response.

Bray, a blogger who has lived in Pueblo, Colo., for more than 20 years, told CNET on Monday that he's now trying to "bring as much attention to the issue as possible in hopes of getting Colorado to repeal" the new law.

Colorado is not alone. Fifteen other states have considered or are considering enacting laws targeting Amazon and other e-commerce companies that typically do not charge sales tax for shipments sent outside their home state, according to a report released Monday. Four states including Colorado have already enacted them.

"I see this as a trend moving along - a lot of states are considering doing it," said Joseph Henchman, director of state projects at the non-partisan Tax Foundation in Washington, D.C., which published the report. But, Henchman says, the laws "won't solve short-term budget problems, they signal business-unfriendliness, and they're probably unconstitutional."

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By Declan McCullagh of CNET News
  • Declan McCullagh On Twitter»

    Declan McCullagh is the chief political correspondent for CNET. You can e-mail him or follow him on Twitter as declanm. Declan previously was a reporter for Time and the Washington bureau chief for Wired and wrote the Taking Liberties section and Other People's Money column for CBS News' Web site.



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