Amazon Associates Cuts Off Colorado Affiliates Over New Sales Tax Law

MC900189265[1] A new Colorado law to force Amazon to collect sales taxes resulted in Amazon Associates being terminated in Colorado.

The law was crafted to get around a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that states that a retailer need collect state imposed taxes on sales only if the retailer has a significant enough physical presence in the state, or a “nexus” of business in the state. Since Colorado can not directly compel Amazon to collect sales taxes, the state instead passed a law deliberately making it nuisance to do business with residents of Colorado.

Technically, whenever a person makes an online purchase, they still owe the sales tax due on that purchase even if the online vendor does not collect the tax directly. The customer is legally obligated to voluntarily forward the appropriate sales tax payment directly to the state, which, of course, never happens. The new Colorado sales tax law states that for any sales made via Colorado residents who participate in the Amazon Associates program to customers whose purchases are shipped to a Colorado address, Amazon must mail a letter to the customer stating the amount of sales tax the customer owes.

Colorado Sales Tax Law Designed To “Get Around” The Constitution

What makes this new Colorado law so slimy and underhanded is how disingenuous it is. Both the State of Colorado and Amazon know that sending these letters will not result in any significant increase in the amount of sales taxes collected by the state. In fact, the only real effect of the legally required letters will be to waste more paper, and increase the cost of doing business in Colorado for Amazon. The legislation’s supporters hoped the law would be such a burden that Amazon would choose to just collect the sales taxes for the state instead. In other words, the legislature deliberately passed a law that they didn’t want anyone to follow in order to make companies do something that the state cannot legally force them to do. It’s a trick worthy of the sneakiest con artist.

The law is also decidedly self-serving since it only compels online retailers to notify residents of how much state sales tax they owe. There is no requirement to notify residents of any city or local taxes that they might owe on their purchases!

Of course, Amazon has no intention of implementing such a burdensome procedure. To track which sales were made via Colorado based Amazon affiliates, and then match those sales to shipping addresses in Colorado, and then to mail those residents letters telling them how much state sales tax they owed, would be a big logistical challenge, even if the company did want to comply with the law.

Instead, Amazon responded the same way it has in the past, by terminating the participation of Colorado residents in the Amazon Associates program, just like it did in Rhode Island and North Carolina. (A similar law in New York was challenged with a lawsuit. Presumably, Amazon would end its New York program if they lose the lawsuit.) Colorado lawmakers seemed surprised or dismissive of the program termination in their state, calling it a publicity stunt. Apparently, these legislators can’t be bothered to research the laws they are passing before they vote on them or they would have seen what happened in the other states that did the same thing.

Writers Making Money With Affiliate Programs

There are hundreds of ways for a writer to make money online with their writing. The most commonly used is advertising. The most commonly used advertising network is Google Ads, called AdSense. AdSense is the easiest ad program to use.

Google advertising is sold through the Google AdWords program. The ads sold there are then published on Google’s websites (like search results) and also on other websites. Getting those ads on your website is easy. Just sign up for the Google AdSense program. (Notice the similar, but different names to avoid being confused.)

Google does the rest for you. You don’t have to pick which ads to show on your web pages, Google selects ads based upon the content of the page. Theoretically, this makes it more likely that people will click on the ads, which in turn means that you will make more money from the advertisements displayed on your websites.

Google Ads, both AdWords and AdSense are some of the most talked about and studied ad programs on the planet. Take that plus the fact that Google is a big, well regarded company, that makes a ton of money already, and it is a pretty good bet that they won’t be screwing you over by not counting your clicks, or not paying you, or whatever.

The downside is that as the most studied and examined advertising program online, there are many people out there, both website owners and advertisers, who have the whole Google Ads thing down to a science. That does not mean that you won’t make money with Google Ads, but it does mean that it isn’t quite as simple as it seems. Just plugging the Google AdSense code into your HTML code isn’t good enough. You need to keep studying, reading, and analyzing to ensure maximum profit.

Grab the Make Money Writing Online RSS Feed and we’ll keep you constantly up to date on all the latest REAL, CONFIRMED, Google AdSense tips, tricks, and advice.

While Google AdSense may be the easiest advertising program for webmasters to use, there are few people who thing it is the most profitable. That makes sense. Generally, earning more money requires more skill or more effort.

Affiliate programs are the second tier of website income that you can build by writing online articles and content for your own website publishing empire. The most well-known of these is Amazon Associates.

Much like Google, Amazon is a large, well-respected online behemoth, that makes plenty of money without having to cheat a tiny little website owner like you. Again, this provides a measure of comfort and confidence with using the Amazon affiliates program.

Each month, the guys over at Amazon push a specific product or category of products by offering a higher than normal payout, and sometimes improved tools to make putting affiliate ads for those products on your sites that you make money by writing online with.

This month, the category is "Digital" for whatever that means. One of the featured tools is a MP3 Widget which provides an active, updating ad for your site. I built one by selecting "Alternative Music" to get a feel for what they look like and how they perform. You saw it earlier in this article.

If you are planning on buying some music, or anything else, from Amazon, click on that ad and go buy your stuff. It won’t cost you any more, and it will help generate some extra data for our research which means that our reports will be even more helpful and accurate. You get to help yourself, and make some money for us at the same time 🙂 We’re also running some experiments on our sites to see if things like putting a big fat widget like this in the middle of your post messes up your search engine rankings for that article.

Stick around, or grab that RSS Feed.

Increase Traffic to Your Sites Easily With Images From Ads and Affiliate Links

Ask anyone and you will find that graphics and images make your websites and blogs more appealing and easier to read. Websites that are good looking will keep readers around longer and build more web traffic. But finding suitable graphics and then getting them uploaded, re-sized, linked, and listed with the proper HTML code and ALT tags can be time consuming.  Here is a quick tip to make posting your writing with images faster and easier, whether you are building a full website from scratch, or posting to an established WordPress blog.

You can do this all of the time, but for those instances where a customized graphic or image just isn’t going to be worth the time or effort, consider using graphical ads as your images instead. Amazon’s affiliate program, Amazon Associates, offers numerous types of advertisements that you can place on your website. You earn money when people buy something at Amazon based on the ads you put up on your site.  Choose a graphical advertisement under either "Links" or "Widgets" and past the code into your post. Maybe like, oh say, this one 🙂


Use Relevant Ads to Make Your Site Better

Make sure the ad is relevant to your posting. Check out this recent post at a Dad Parenting Advice blog about how cargo shorts can help with a young child’s collection of sticks and rocks. A few minutes at the Amazon Associates site and a colorful graphic of cargo shorts is ready to go on the website.  And, since the article is about cargo shorts, the images fit perfectly; they certainly look as good as any shorts picture you would find laying around in a clip art gallery or stock photography website.

While it is by no means a certainty, it is completely possible that a Dad or Mom reading that article would think to themselves, "Hey, he’s right. Cargo shorts would be a great way to help carry around some of my baby stuff." In that case, the reader might actually appreciate the useful link to find some of those shorts.

As an added bonus, if someone does happen to be moved to buy something from that link, either because of the site’s persuasive prose, or because of the catchy ad served from Amazon’s own web servers, then the author makes money from their online writings.

Isn’t that the whole point?