The Amazon Sales Tax Fight


I’m genuinely curious about this: to what extent is not charging sales tax the source of’s advantage? The company obviously thinks that being forced to charge sales tax is a dealbreaker, which is why it’s fighting laws that would require it to do that in New York and California, suing in the former and cutting ties with brick-and-mortar affiliates in the latter. But even if it was forced to pay sales taxes, it still seems like the volume of Amazon’s sales would let it be competitive with smaller retailers or retailers with physical locations.

And more than that, hasn’t Amazon shifted the market enough to ensure itself a long-term, if not permanent advantage? By putting pressure on smaller retailers, particularly on bookstores, Amazon has created a marketplace where it’s often the only place you can get certain items, and get them in a reasonably expeditious fashion. Now, a competitor would have to match that infrastructure and volume to match Amazon on base price and beat Amazon’s two-day shipping silver bullet, or find some other competitive advantage to really threaten their market share — and they’d have to operate under the same requirements to pay sales tax that Amazon’s probably going to be forced to accept. If I’m wrong, I’d love to know why, but Amazon’s tactics here feel like they’re fighting over a few meters of territory when they’ve already won the war.