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Mon Apr 1 2019 14:54:31

States Fawn over Amazon But Make Small Sellers Cry

By: Ina Steiner

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States around the country are devoting considerable resources to figuring out how to get small businesses to collect Sales & Use Tax on purchases made by *their* residents, which can be burdensome to online sellers who've never stepped foot in those jurisdictions.

But at the same time, some of those states are promising enormous tax breaks or other incentives to big corporations - witness the recent backlash against the proposed Amazon HQ2 in New York City.

The point was driven home to us today by an article in Vermont Digger that provides plenty of fodder for small-biz outrage. The publication pointed to a press release issued by that state's governor's office promoting Amazon's plans to hire remote workers for its Virtual Customer Service program - critics claimed it amounted to an advertisement for Amazon. 

While it used to be all about jobs, jobs, jobs, things have changed with record low unemployment rates. Vermont, which is also experiencing a declining workforce (and tax base), hit a record low unemployment rate of 2.4% in February. 

That means Vermont needs additional *workers* far more than it needs more new *businesses,* especially the kind that are not building a meaningful presence in the state.

VTDigger.com chronicles the complaints from Vermont businesses who described their dismay that their governor would promote a company that is competing for workers that in-state businesses so desperately need, at the same time competing directly against Vermont companies for business.

Ironically, the governor's blog published a post a week later about the problem of Vermont's declining workforce - "We see it when businesses are unable to expand because there aren't enough skilled workers to fill well-paying jobs."

Particularly compelling in the Vermont Digger article was the voice of Michael DeSanto, who owns five bookstores in Vermont and who is looking to hire: “So now I have to compete with what Amazon is going to get for workers? I don’t think the government should be getting involved with this one way or another. And if it is, how come I’m not getting some free stuff?”

It's not that jobs aren't welcome - as a Vermont public policy think-tank pointed out, jobs that people can do from home could bring people into the labor force that otherwise wouldn't be able to work.

But as state senator Tim Ashe pointed out, there are other tech companies in the state looking for workers - "They might ask, "Should I have the governor’s office put out a job posting for me so I don’t have to pay for advertising?"" He also said it was unusual to promote a business that "helped cannibalize many small businesses in Vermont."

Contrast the VIP treatment the governments of Vermont, New York City, Virginia, etc., give Amazon with the way government entities treat online sellers, sometimes using questionable tactics.

Take this 2017 CBS News story about the Multistate Tax Commission (MTC), "an intergovernmental state tax agency working on behalf of states and taxpayers to facilitate the equitable and efficient administration of state tax laws that apply to multistate and multinational enterprises":

"During a March trade show, Richard Cram of the Multistate Tax Commission (MTC) had some unwelcome news for a group of sellers who use Amazon's (AMZN) e-commerce platform. Cram informed the sellers that they could potentially owe tens of thousands of dollars in back sales taxes to states where they had done little business. That news made some people so distraught that they broke down and cried."

Small sellers aren't asking for red-carpet treatment, most just want a fair shake.



Comments (6) | Permalink

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Perminate Link for States Fawn over Amazon But Make Small Sellers Cry   States Fawn over Amazon But Make Small Sellers Cry

by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 1 15:11:10 2019

Maybe these so called small sellers should apply for a tax break. You never know until you try.

Perminate Link for States Fawn over Amazon But Make Small Sellers Cry   States Fawn over Amazon But Make Small Sellers Cry

This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Mon Apr 1 16:51:40 2019

What if they don't have a briefcase full of unmarked bills?

Perminate Link for States Fawn over Amazon But Make Small Sellers Cry   States Fawn over Amazon But Make Small Sellers Cry

by: geoffreymason This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 1 19:38:56 2019

It's the same old story with legislators at all levels of government: unable or unwilling to rein in spending, they go after the citizenry in the form of new taxes and fees.

Perminate Link for States Fawn over Amazon But Make Small Sellers Cry   States Fawn over Amazon But Make Small Sellers Cry

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 2 12:16:00 2019

Amazon is proof that we do not have a free market, that government and special interest businesses get extremely insane deals which gives them a huge monopoly.

If states want to boost their revenue, give all businesses tax breaks so that small and medium businessess can compete and hire people to create jobs.

Its ridiculous that Amazon gets so much special treatment, its down right a conspiracy if you ask me.

The supreme court sold out its people with their decision that states can collect tax from businesses of other states. It makes zero sense and everyone should be picketing and create a ruckus to get it appealed. It onl hurts small and medium businesses, and Amazon loves that. Big business loves having legislation that is so burdensome to their competition.

Its high time we have separation of business and state.





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by: hawk This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 4 06:09:20 2019

it's always the same , never changes. it's always the small businesses that it takes to build the big , huge  businesses , them the small businesses gets crapped on as though they are nothing and nobody's.  when will all the big greedy's learn.

Perminate Link for States Fawn over Amazon But Make Small Sellers Cry   States Fawn over Amazon But Make Small Sellers Cry

by: SANT1N1 This user has validated their user name.

Sat Apr 6 10:44:57 2019

@hawk - So true. The monster that ecommerce has become over the past quarter century has been built largely with the efforts of small-time businesses. So now they're being given the gradual heave-ho on the slow boat to china. But cheer up, you'll always be able to buy online, faster & easier. Sell? Not so much...



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