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  1. #1
    Member RebeccaMadiganPMA's Avatar
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    Amazon files referendum in California
    Amazon filed for a referendum in California. That means if 500,000 signatures are collected in 90 days, the law is immediately stopped, and put on the June 2012 ballot for voters to decide. Amazon is hiring a firm to manage this campaign, and I'm sure affiliates will be asked to be involved.

    This is probably the single most effective thing that can be done to stop this law quickly!


    Amazon files for Referendum in California – taking the issue to the voters! | Performance Marketing Association
    Rebecca Madigan
    Executive Director | Performance Marketing Association
    o: 805.445.9700 (PST)

  2. #2
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    The CA Initiative, Referendum and Recall system (as it currently exists, pending the slight reigning in that pending SB 168 and SB 448 would achieve) lets any corporation that wants to spend a couple million dollars get whatever they want onto the ballot.

    While it normally takes at least $30 Million to actually win an Initiative, Referendum or Recall election, one that will be advertised as keeping internet purchases tax free sounds like a sure winner.
    Last edited by Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound; July 11th, 2011 at 08:09 PM.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
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  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador CathyM's Avatar
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    Thats great news!

  4. #4
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Rebecca, I am happy to send that link to every group or social network I belong to asking friends in California to sigh it. The article needs simple instructions on how to add a signature.

  5. #5
    Member RebeccaMadiganPMA's Avatar
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    We won't know the process for a week or so. The guidelines are very strict, the lawyers are working on what we can't and can't do. Thank you for the offer - when we know something, we'll need to engage the industry for help.
    Rebecca Madigan
    Executive Director | Performance Marketing Association
    o: 805.445.9700 (PST)

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  7. #6
    Member RebeccaMadiganPMA's Avatar
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    The process is very strict, the lawyers are determining the rules and regulations, of we can and can't do, and can and can't say. Will probably take a week or two. And we actually need to collect a lot more than 500k signatures because only registered voters count and there will likely be attrition. Amazon et al will engage a signature gathering agency to get consumers, and I think we can support via the affiliate community. This seems attainable - doesn't it??? I really think so!
    Rebecca Madigan
    Executive Director | Performance Marketing Association
    o: 805.445.9700 (PST)

  8. #7
    Member RebeccaMadiganPMA's Avatar
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    My bad. I posted this in 2 places and responded in one. We don't need to be so stealthy with the referendum, as opposed to our legislative activities. I will post everything going forward in the public forum.
    Rebecca Madigan
    Executive Director | Performance Marketing Association
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  9. #8
    ABW Ambassador I.M.O.G.'s Avatar
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    Thanks for the clarification Rebecca, merged the private tax thread into this public one - everything is in one place now for this topic.
    Matt Bidinger
    Online Community Engagement

  10. #9
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Rebecca you have our commitment to help once the details are ironed out. Will do all we can to help get this broadcast to affiliates.

  11. #10
    notary sojac Herb ΤΏΤ¬'s Avatar
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    Cool
    @Rebecca: I've reposted the PMA link to the Amazon.com Associates discussion group. Will be interesting if AMZN contacts their CA people with more information soon.

  12. #11
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    I don't get it.

    Yes, the law is unwise, ineffective, and unconstitutional.

    But a referendum just to repeal this law? WTF?

    Do I want out-of-state companies to continue to sell products to California, without sales or use tax being paid? Absolutely not. It's a problem that needs to be fixed, not a political cause to be fought over.

    Would I support a political effort to force California into the Streamlined Sales Tax Project? Sure.

    Would Amazon support a political effort to bring California into the Streamlined Sales Tax Project? Absolutely not. Amazon wants this issue to be delayed and extended, so it can stretch out the time it can sell products to California without collecting sales tax.

    Is it financially worthwhile for Amazon to spend millions of dollars to force the law's repeal? Of course it is. But although Amazon would like to resume advertising relationships with California web publishers, that opportunity alone would not justify the financial and political costs of this repeal effort. Instead, the greater risk to Amazon comes from the other parts of the law, not the "advertising-nexus" provision.

    Would repeal of the law end California's claims that Amazon has "nexus" in California? Absolutely not.

    I would probably vote for repeal if the issue is on the ballot. But it's a bad idea.
    Last edited by markwelch; July 12th, 2011 at 12:51 PM.

  13. #12
    Outsourced Program Manager Jorge - SHOPiMAR's Avatar
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    Good to hear, thanks. Shared and emailed those I know in CA

  14. #13
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    any chance they can try pulling the same thing in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Illonois and Arkansas?

  15. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch View Post
    I don't get it.

    I would probably vote for repeal if the issue is on the ballot. But it's a bad idea.
    You post is contradictory and confusing. Why would you vote for a bad idea?

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shoe-Shopping-Spree View Post
    You post is contradictory and confusing. Why would you vote for a bad idea?
    The law is a bad idea (unwise, ineffective, and unconstitutional), so I'd vote to repeal it, if I had the opportunity to vote on it. Otherwise it could be years before a court rules on the law's validity.

    But spending money, energy, and political capital to pursue the repeal of this particular law is also a bad idea -- for everyone except Amazon, whose primary goal is to maximize sales to Californians, which means not collecting California sales tax (and, if possible, paying for profitable advertising on California web sites). Remember, Amazon is almost certainly more concerned about the other parts of the law (not the "Advertising-Nexus" issue, which it can dodge by merely terminating California web publishers from its Associates program).

    In the long term, bankrolling this repeal might also harm Amazon, but certainly that's their business decision to make.

    I think it's absolutely critical to understand that the issue is not, and has never been, the obligation of California residents to pay sales or use tax on all purchases of non-exempt tangible items which are stored or used in California, whether purchased in California or from a retailer in another state or nation. Internet purchases are not tax-free.

    The issue is collection of the sales or use tax that is already owed by California residents. Currently, there is no cost-effective method for the state to enforce individual residents' payment of the use tax, for purchases from out-of-state retailers.

    Amazon has claimed that it supports the concept of a fair system, with a "level playing field," under which all retailers would collect sales tax for all transactions subject to a state's sales tax law, for all 45 states which impose such taxes. However, that claim is just self-serving claptrap, because they absolutely do NOT want to lose customers who currently buy from Amazon primarily because of the financial benefit of tax evasion, and they have not made any genuine effort to push adoption of the Streamlined Sales Tax Project or any other solution.

    Whether the new law is repealed or remains in effect, Amazon will NOT collect California sales tax. Of course, if the law is repealed, Amazon might choose to re-admit California web publishers into its "Associates Program" (performance-based advertising program), and that would benefit me, so that's another reason I might vote in favor of repeal.

    But the tax-evasion problem must be solved, and solving that problem is NOT on Amazon's agenda, period. Nor does it appear to be on the agenda of the booksellers' lobbyists, nor the big-box retailers' lobbyists, nor any other lobbyists engaged on this issue -- even though solving this problem would benefit everyone except out-of-state retailers.

    Wasting more time, energy, and political capital on the current law is a diversion that won't solve the real problem of sales-tax evasion. That's why I believe the repeal effort is a bad idea.

    Frankly, one aspect of this issue is that if the repeal effort focuses on the false concept of "keeping internet purchases tax-free," it will force political candidates to take sides, and it would likely benefit political candidates who oppose all taxes, at the political expense of candidates who are willing to explore all options to solve the state's fiscal problems. (I don't count any of the legislators who voted against this law as likely to support any of my other political interests, and they didn't vote against this law for any reasons I consider valid.)

    Despite what the booksellers' lobbyists have said, web publishers opposed to the "Advertising Nexus" laws are not "apologists" or "mouthpieces" for Amazon (which loses little when these laws are passed; web publishers sustain the biggest losses). I'm not going to follow Amazon's bidding; its interests are not my interests.
    Last edited by markwelch; July 12th, 2011 at 05:08 PM.

  17. #16
    Member RebeccaMadiganPMA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cowboysfan View Post
    any chance they can try pulling the same thing in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Illonois and Arkansas?
    I don't know the exact legal reasons for each state but was told by some public policy folks that California is the first state passed where a referendum is a possibility. I happened to have spoken to a Connecticut lobbyist today who said that state doesn't even have a process for referendum. I'm guessing/hoping it will be on legislators minds in states where it's possible.
    Rebecca Madigan
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  18. #17
    Member RebeccaMadiganPMA's Avatar
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    We put up a form on our site so we can update subscribers on the referendum process. There's also a link to register to vote - you need to be a registered California voter to participate and sign (that much we DO know). More details should be known in the next several days:

    California Referendum Update | Performance Marketing Association
    Rebecca Madigan
    Executive Director | Performance Marketing Association
    o: 805.445.9700 (PST)

  19. #18
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    OH!! finally got a good news! thanks!!

  20. #19
    ABW Ambassador CathyM's Avatar
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    From yesterdays news, the referendum is moving forward:

    "Online retailers can start gathering signatures for a referendum to overturn California's new law that requires more of them to collect sales tax from customers in the state, officials said Monday.

    Attorney General Kamala Harris on Monday approved ballot language for the measure to overturn the so-called Amazon tax. Supporters must collect nearly 505,000 valid signatures to put the measure before voters as soon as June 2012."


    Full article

    I haven't found a link to the actual language yet.

  21. #20
    ABW Ambassador CathyM's Avatar
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    It's going to get dirty, from the article

    "The chairman of the State Board of Equalization said the approval marks the start of a battle between law-abiding businesses and scofflaw companies."

  22. #21
    If Amazon has 500k affiliates in CA, all 500k signatures should be completed within a week. Otherwise it might be prudent for Amazon to partner up with a few other giant firms to get the 500k sigs.


    (No manual signatures please.)

    You can find information about advertising your site at ABW here: http://www.abestweb.com/advertising/
    Last edited by BurgerBoy; July 19th, 2011 at 07:23 PM. Reason: No manual signatures please

  23. #22
    Member RebeccaMadiganPMA's Avatar
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    Yes, the attorney general approved the referendum last night, signature gathering can immediately commence. The campaign firm is developing the signature forms and website (very specific guidelines), hopefully by end of week we can start helping gather signatures.

    Here's the official blurb from the Secretary of State:

    Cleared for circulation by Secty. of State Debra Bowen.
    Contact: Shannan Velayas 916 653 6575.

    REFERENDUM TO OVERTURN LAW REQUIRING INTERNET RETAILERS TO COLLECT SAME SALES OR USE TAXES AS OTHER RETAILERS. If signed by the required number of registered voters and filed with the Secretary of State, this petition will place on the statewide ballot a challenge to an existing state law. The law must be approved by voters at the next statewide election to remain in effect. The law [ABX1 28] expands the definition of retailers considered "engaged in business" in California to include certain Internet retailers selling to California consumers, so that out-of-state Internet retailers also collect existing sales or use taxes. Proponent Charles T. Halnan, 415 389 6800, need 504,760 valid signatures by Sept. 27.
    Rebecca Madigan
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    o: 805.445.9700 (PST)

  24. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by RebeccaMadiganPMA View Post
    ... Here's the official blurb from the Secretary of State: ...

    REFERENDUM TO OVERTURN LAW REQUIRING INTERNET RETAILERS TO COLLECT SAME SALES OR USE TAXES AS OTHER RETAILERS. If signed by the required number of registered voters and filed with the Secretary of State, this petition will place on the statewide ballot a challenge to an existing state law. The law must be approved by voters at the next statewide election to remain in effect. The law [ABX1 28] expands the definition of retailers considered "engaged in business" in California to include certain Internet retailers selling to California consumers, so that out-of-state Internet retailers also collect existing sales or use taxes. ...

    (emphasis added)
    So the title of the measure is highly deceptive, already, because it suggests that the law would actually "require" retailers to collect sales tax, which we know is untrue. The "Advertising-Nexus" portion of the law law allows all out-of-state retailers to continue selling to California residents without collecting sales tax, if they terminate (or signficantly alter) their performance-based advertising relationships with California web publishers.

    Of course, many voters are much more likely to vote against* the law if they believe the law would actually cause out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax. If voters knew that this law mostly just says "F--- You, Amazon" and punishes in-state publishers, without impacting internet sales or sales-tax collection at all, they probably wouldn't care.

    */ Note that a referendum places the law before the voters to approve or reject; a "yes" vote means the voter supports the law and wants it to take effect; a "no" vote means the voter opposes this law and does not want it to take effect.

  25. #24
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    Awesome stuff - hopefully we can get this on the ballot and passed. Should be interesting

    How/where can we sign? Can we do it online?

  26. #25
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    Anyone know when we can expect this petition will be ready?

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