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

Innovation, the Internet, gadgets, and more.
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?

(Continued from Page 1)

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.

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