Jumping into the debate over whether California should adopt a so-called "Amazon tax" that would require online retailers who use in-state affiliates to market their products, Walmart officials today issued a statement not only supporting the proposal but also asserting it would be glad to partner with any affiliates that Amazon might drop should California adopt the new law.
Amazon.com offers commissions to any partner group that promotes its products on their websites. The fate of those affiliates is at the center of a public debate between two members of the state Board of Equalization, Republican George Runner and Democrat Betty Yee.
Runner issued a statement earlier this week saying that he had been assured by Amazon officials that they would sever releationships with 10,000 California affiliates should the state adopt the new law, which would force them for the first time to collect sales taxes on purchases made by customers in California. "This is an imminent threat to California jobs," Runner said.
Yee responded with a statement of her own, saying, "the right course of action for Amazon.com would be to stop threatening California from updating its statutes."
Enter Walmart, the world's largest retailer. Because Walmart operates bricks-and-mortar stores in California, it must collect sales taxes not only at its stores but also on Internet purchases by Californians from Walmart.com.
So for Walmart, it is a fairness issue. Because Amazon can duck out of collecting sales taxes from Californians (who are supposed to self-report the purchases and pay the sales taxes when they file their income tax returns), it can offer lower bottom-line prices on goods than can Walmart, which must collect the sales taxes.
"We encourage state legislators to support retail fairness legislation," said Raul Vazquez, executive vice president of Global Ecommerce for Walmart, in a statement sent to reporters today. "We are committed to the communities where our associates and our customers reside and raise their families. This is why we strongly support a change in the law that will help communities and level the playing field for everyone."