Amazon sales tax: The company's position on state sales tax is unfair and unethical.

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July 12 2011 5:36 PM

Amazon Wants To Save You Money

Should shoppers care that its position on state sales tax is unfair and unethical?

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What's more, it's hard to believe that Amazon doesn't have the resources to keep track of different states' tax rules. Every other retailer has to keep track of such data; that's the cost of having a business that spans many states. Amazon is a pioneering tech company—it knows every purchase I've made since 1998, and it is capable of predicting with uncanny accuracy what kinds of stuff I want to purchase today. Does it really expect us to believe that it couldn't manage a database of taxable goods?

The reasons for Amazon's tax battle are obvious. It's not that it can't institute a sensible tax collection regime, but that it won't, because it has no incentive to do so. Amazon's position may be indefensible, but it has a trump card. Raise your hand if you want higher prices. Yeah, that's what I thought.

Farhad Manjoo is a technology columnist for the New York Times and the author of True Enough.