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Report on Affiliate Advocacy March Nexus Legislation Call

Today Affiliate Advocacy hosted a conference call to discuss the current status of nexus legislation.  The call was well attended and all aspects of our industry were in attendance. We had many affiliates from a variety of states, merchants, program managers and an outsourced program management company. Several of the affiliates were from states who have not yet enacted or presented modern nexus legislation. It is always encouraging when those not directly affected are proactive and get involved in critical issues such as this. Our special guest was Brian Littleton, CEO of ShareASale Inc. who shared his experience working on the legislation in Illinois.

After a disclaimer that made clear that nothing in the call should be considered legal or financial advice, all merchants and program managers were urged to seek qualified counsel to ensure they are in compliance in all states.

We began the call with a review of states that passed Internet sales tax legislation – New York (in 2008), North Carolina and Rhode Island (in 2009) and of course Colorado in 2010.  While the first three (NY, NC and RI) are all nexus based there are differences for each state in the interpretation and the ability to rebut. (ex. NY can rebut, NC & RI unknown). The Colorado law is a very different type of law and the common opinion is that having affiliates in Colorado has no effect, an opinion that has been echoed by legislators and even the Governor of Colorado.

I then moved on to the “Cautious Good News”- those states that had threatened or proposed legislation which is now tabled or dead.   These states include, Vermont, Nevada, Mississippi, Iowa, and New Mexico. I urged diligence in all of these states since there is no guarantee that this status will continue. Affiliate tax legislation has a way of springing back to life or resurrecting in a omnibus bill or a budget bill.

Next was talking about the states with actively pending legislation. (Since we are still working on these I will only share limited information here, contact me for additional details. ) I spoke about the pending bills in Maryland, Georgia, California, Florida,  Virginia, and Connecticut; and further added that legislation is expected in several other states including Hawaii.

It was then Brian’s turn to speak about his experiences in Illinois. He updated us on the  March 4 hearing and spoke about the current status, he is “cautiously optimistic”. I asked Brian to talk a little bit about what it is like to testify and the process. He shared some great pointers on how to prepare and testify.

Next we had  follow up discussion and Q & A.  There were several great questions and it was a good opportunity to hear a variety of opinions. Also attending the call was Jen G. an affiliate from Colorado, who shared her experience testifying at a hearing. She shared some of her tips on how to prepare and said that legislators are actually just “regular” people who are interested and want to hear from their constituents. Jeannine C., another affiliate from Colorado, was also on the call. In spite of some technical issues, she  too shared her experiences.

Although not really impacted by Amazon’s termination, another Colorado Affiliate asked about the recovery and the next steps in Colorado. We all discussed a few ideas. Although some work should still be done on a legislative level, the bulk of an affiliates attention in Colorado should be on identifying new merchants to replace those lost, and to continue to educate existing merchants about the non-nexus aspect of Colorado.

In all other states, including those with pending or likely legislation, Affiliates and merchants are urged to continue actively preparing and educating themselves.

Any merchant or Affiliate who wants to learn more about how they can prepare or help is encouraged to contact me. Please use Contact Us.

We also had some discussion of the decision of Amazon to remove Affiliates (associates). The majority of those on the call expressed the hope that other merchants wouldn’t just follow and terminate Affiliates since that really does not benefit the merchant, it only hurts the affiliate.

Thank you to Brian for sharing his knowledge and experience and to everyone who attended the call including the Affiliates in Colorado who shared their experiences and concerns. Please feel free to contact me with any follow up questions.

If you were unable to attend the call or heard about it too late,  you can also contact me. The best way to stay informed  about our call schedule is to read this blog and follow us on Twitter. Two ways to follow us on Twitter. AffAdvocacy is the Twitter id that is only used for Affiliate Advocacy tweets. Mellies is my Twitter id and will have more tweets. Follow either one or both according to how much you want to hear.

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