“The A Word”: Part 2–California Sales Tax

Let’s be honest. Who enjoys paying sales tax? Yet, as much as we gripe about the additional cost tacked on to our purchases, our tax dollars help pay for necessary and beneficial services like public education, transportation, housing, health and human services, corrections and rehabilitation, and environmental protection.

Up until recently, Amazon.com has been exploiting a loophole in the law to avoid making its customers pay sales tax. Since the company does not maintain a physical presence in the state (even though they own subsidiaries in California), it has gotten away with this. Until now.

A summary of events:

Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed legislation that would have required Amazon.com to start collecting a 7.25% base sales tax on online purchases. Emphasis on would have. In retaliation, Amazon abandoned 10,000 of its California affiliates, who are agents paid to entice shoppers to buy through Amazon. This way, Amazon hoped to remain exempt from collecting tax, since it removed its physical presence from the state. Now, Amazon is petitioning for a referendum that would allow Californians to vote on whether to overturn the new law that forces Internet retailers to collect sales tax. The law was passed to help California increase its tax revenue by $200 million annually. Amazon argues that its referendum would allow the company to continue supporting jobs and investing in the state. Amazon must gather more than 500,000 signatures by late September to put its measure in the statewide vote in February.

In the wake of these events, Spellbinder certainly has its own opinion about the matter. But, we realized that we couldn’t voice our plan of action any better than Green Apple Books (a San Fransisco independent bookstore) did in their recent blog post. So, we got permission to re-post their petition plan here:

Here’s the press release Green Apple Books issued today. Media inquiries welcome.
Contact: Pete Mulvihill – pete@greenapplebooks.com (415) 387-2272
Green Apple Books to petition state government to become exempt from sales tax
San Francisco, CA (August 16, 2011)—In a move spurred by Amazon.com’s campaign to collect 500,000-plus signatures in an effort to overturn California’s Sales Tax Fairness law via referendum, Green Apple Books owners Pete Mulvihill, Kevin Ryan, and Kevin Hunsanger have decided that they, too, will take a step toward not collecting sales tax. “We, too, are fed up with government providing infrastructure, security, and education” says Pete Mulvihill. “Enough is enough.”

Co-owner Kevin Ryan further argues that while Green Apple Books is a long-established presence in San Francisco that has always collected sales tax, there are more compelling reasons for the store to discontinue the practice. “Sure, the sales tax on books purchased at our store contributes to a better quality of life for all Californians, including social services for the elderly and disabled, but collecting sales tax kind of feels like overkill. We do enough for the community anyway,” says Ryan.

“I like Amazon’s angle here, and I think ALL indie stores should be exempt,” adds co-owner Kevin Hunsanger.

Additionally, Green Apple’s ownership provides this list of talking points:

  • More than two-thirds of Green Apple’s staff do not have children and therefore should not really contribute tax money to public education;
  • Most of the staff members do not own cars, so maintaining good roads isn’t that important. They could just walk;
  • Statistics suggest that booksellers are 36% less likely to use emergency services than antiques dealers;
  • Although many of the staff at Green Apple do in fact enjoy state and local parks, they sort of think someone other than the bookstore’s customers should pay to maintain them;

On Saturday, August 20, 2011, co-owner Kevin Ryan will hit the streets in an effort to collect enough signatures to put this issue into the hands of voters.

 Thanks Green Apple Books!  Visit their site: http://thegreenapplecore.blogspot.com/


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