ABA Responds to Amazon Supreme Court Filing

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Recently, Amazon.com petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn New York State's sales tax fairness law, which three state courts have declared constitutional.

ABA CEO Oren Teicher has written an open letter to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos that highlights the discrepancy between the company’s professed support for e-fairness and its ongoing business practices.

Dear Jeff:

I am puzzled.

On the one hand, it’s been widely reported in the media that Amazon has come around to supporting efforts to collect sales taxes equitably. On the other hand, Amazon continues to go to extraordinary lengths to fight every reasonable step forward in establishing a level playing field with regard to sales tax fairness. Which is it?

Even your staunchest competitors acknowledge that Amazon offers a lot of choice. And everyone understands the appeal of selection when it comes to products. But Amazon is offering a confusing set of choices about exactly where it stands regarding fair competition and the best way to ensure an even playing field regarding sales tax collection. I don’t think you can have it both ways.

Amazon has said that all sellers should compete on a level playing field and that states need to be able to collect a tax that is already owed, especially in a time of budget shortfalls.

But you recently asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the decisions of three New York State courts that allow just that.

I don’t get it, Jeff.

But that’s not all. Just a few weeks ago you fired all of Amazon’s affiliates in Missouri so that you wouldn’t have to collect sales tax in that state, a move you’ve taken in multiple other states that have enacted some form of sales tax equity. 

So, Jeff, which is it?  If you really are in favor of fairness and competition, why not close the gap between your rhetoric and your actions. Collect sales tax in every state that mandates it. Join the ranks of Main Street businesses that are obeying the law and supporting their communities. Yes, you will be giving up that unearned discount advantage you have now, but that’s what it means to compete.

That’s what retailers do.


Oren Teicher
CEO, American Booksellers Association