I’ve had a lot of emails come to me asking “How can I help” with regards to the proposed “Affiliate Sale Tax” laws in so many States.
So – I’ve put together a little post about what I think speficially you can do – right now.
- The most important thing is to locate, and initiate contact with your local state representative. Usually, they are nearby and generally easy to contact. Their offices are typically quick to respond to local residents.Here are some talking points to go over when talking with your representative.
- Point out that while States are estimating that these laws will bring in revenue – they are misjudging online retailers. Online retailers are instead simply cancelling their contracts with advertisers in those States. As proof of this you can point out the following thread on ABestWeb which is a list of retailers who dropped NY based affiliates: http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=105869. You can also point them to the following document which (on page 6) shows a letter from Amazon’s Vice President indicating their intention to drop all contracts with advertisers based in Hawaii. http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2009/Testimony/HB1405_Testimony_EDT_03-20-09.pdfThese two items are not the only examples, but are good ones. They show that the effect of these laws is instead a negative impact on local businesses and jobs, as opposed to a positive impact of generated tax revenue.
- Point out how if other States are declaring nexus based on a certain type of advertiser, that this essentially singles out a specific group of advertisers based solely on how they are paid. Television, radio, print – all of these items are not considered in the nexus discussion, but online affiliate marketing is being singled out. You can point out that most affiliate marketers are small businesses that have little recourse and will be forced to drastically change their operations. The actions of the State governments are directly and negatively affecting small business growth in the economy at a time when small business growth is desperately needed.
Wherever possible, use the word “advertiser” as opposed to the word “affiliate” as the word “affiliate” is misunderstood everywhere else with the exception of our industry. “Affiliate” implys a more closely tied connection to the host corporation than is realistic in our industry.
- Point them to the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Quill v. North Dakota which clearly ruled on this issue some 20 years ago and that some of these States are ignoring. (http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/91-0194.ZO.html)Further you can point them to the following document from California which mentions, and cites the “Quill” decision as a specific reason why these types of laws haven’t been put in place in the past.
California Taxpayers Association Fact Sheet:
- Besides contacting your local representative, which we all should do no matter what State we live in (we are all affected), you can be a big help just by reaching out to your contacts acorss the country.
We all know a lot of people, and you never know who can be of help. Send out an email to your contacts and ask them “Does anyone have any contacts at the State Government level for any State?”. Explain the issue, point them to this blog if you wish or others (www.nyaffiliatevoice.com is a good one).
See if you can help someone in another State just by providing a contact in their own local government.
We have Facebooks, Twitters, LinkedIns, etc… Now is the time to use them to network for each other and see what we can all do to help individuals who are in other States.
- Blog it, Twitter it, Talk about it. Use the hashtag
#affiliatetax or#advertisingtax (includes more people) and get the word out there. When you see a Twitter about it – ReTweet it. Comment on people’s blogs, Digg blog posts, etc… All of this will help us get the word out to the public and mass media. If you have contacts in media (print, online, tv, radio, whatever…), talk to them.
- Most importantly, don’t think this issue doesn’t affect you because you don’t live in New York, California, etc… This industry needs your help – please put down whatever differences you have with any individual groups and help out who needs to be helped. It won’t matter who gets credit in any individual fight, we all need to help each other to make sure we can all continue to operate as usual.