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Amazon Dragged into Sales Tax Debate by Trump and Now eBay


Amazon logoeBay CEO Devin Wenig said he has spoken to President Trump about the online sales tax issue in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling in South Dakota vs. Wayfair, but the two men obviously disagree on how the case impacts eBay rival Amazon.

Wenig was speaking before sellers during the eBay Open conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday. He, like the President, dragged Amazon into the debate – and though he didn’t refer to his competitor by name, the inference was clear. He told the audience of eBay sellers and employees:

“We have been the loudest, most persistent, and most vocal voice fighting this in Washington and in state legislatures. Period.

“I’m not naming any other marketplaces, but when they say they have your back, what was their position on this issue? They were quite happy to see a sales tax passed that is going to potentially impact your business.”

President Trump had tweeted yesterday that Amazon “lost” the Supreme Court tax case – but while many companies, organizations, politicians, and sellers filed amicus briefs in South Dakota vs. Wayfair, Amazon did not.

Wenig continued, “I have spoken to everybody from the President of the United States down about this issue. And what we are fighting for now, post Wayfair, is federal preemption of the states where the federal government takes over, passes one, simple, national sales tax that can be implemented so that we don’t have to navigate 10,000 separate tax jurisdictions in the United States.”

He said eBay would have the tools necessary for all sellers to collect and remit taxes in every tax jurisdiction in the US. “We will be ready, we will have the tools necessary to help you collect if it’s needed.”

Is Wenig correct that Amazon “won,” or is the President right that Amazon “lost”? We reached out to Amazon for comment, but the company has not yet responded to our inquiry.

Note that in 2011, Amazon came out in favor of federal legislation, and in 2012, its Vice President of Amazon Global Public Policy testified before the Senate Commerce Committee, explaining that the company supported a nationwide framework for state sales tax collection created by Congress.

Amazon collects and remits sales tax for first-party sales, but except for certain states such as Washington, which has enacted a Marketplace Facilitator law, it does not handle sales tax *collection* for third-party sellers, though it does provide an optional tax calculation service provided for a fee by a third-party solution called Vertex.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

8 thoughts on “Amazon Dragged into Sales Tax Debate by Trump and Now eBay”

  1. As much as people hate Ebay, the real problem is Amazon.

    It is a Wall Street-created monopoly, and that means the end of small and medium American businesses. Being a slave to monopolists who hold your business in their hands to destroy at will is the worst place to be.

    It also eventually means retail slavery for the buyer too. They will only be able to buy what the powerful, wealthy people behind Amazon let them buy and at the prices that Amazon forces them to pay.

    Yet how many people buy from Amazon and tie their own nooses.

  2. Amazon supports sales tax because the primary beneficiaries are the monopolists behind Amazon and their friends- receiving corporate welfare.

  3. Amazon and Ebay read the same tea leaves and came up with different prophecies. Amazon’s was correct. Originally, Amazon too opposed an internet sales tax but they realized that,ultimately, such a tax is anti-competitive and would, in the end, hurt their competitors whose pockets are not as deep as Amazon’s. So, they switched their position and began advocating for the tax. The construction of their FBA warehouses is evidence that they saw the writing on the wall and decided it was in their best interest to position themselves to benefit from the tax. I don’t fault them for that. I don’t know that it actually makes Amazon richer but it does make its competitors poorer and that will do just fine.


  4. The amount of money to be collected under Wayfair is chump change since 85% of all possible sales taxes were already being collected. What SCOTUS actually did was to take the first step to destroy the concept of physical nexus/presence for a state to tap you for taxes. So follow the money. Where is there sufficient money to warrant a 12 year effort by the states and their cohorts? State income taxes. What’s to prevent states in the future from tapping the pensions etc. of someone who earned that money in a high tax state and moved to a very low or no tax state? After all, a tax is a tax is a tax. From the perspective of a financially strapped/bankrupt high tax state, it would be the perfect solution. Stay or leave, they could care less.

  5. Its your own state that will drive you crazy with TAX forms! A paper work explosion that will make you quit eBay! Then the feds will kick in with there own tax, together its spells insanity!

  6. Etsy is going to collect the Sales Tax from the buyers and send it to the states. Sellers don’t have to do anything. That is the way eBay should do it also. But I have a problem with selling something used and collecting sales tax. If you have an item, it has already been taxed. Then If you sell the buyer pays taxes on it again. Now if you buy something in a thrift store, it got taxed when it was initially bought, then you pay tax on it at the thrift store and then you have to collect taxes on it again. This is ridiculous! So 1 used item has the possibility of being taxed 3 times! ARG!

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