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Amazon Sellers Brood as States Come Calling for Taxes (nytimes.com)
160 points by ingve 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 199 comments



It's a clusterfuck of epic proportions.

Let's say you use Amazon Fulfilment (FBA):

1. Does just storing goods in a state establish tax nexus in that state? Most states claim it does, but it hasn't been tested in court.

2. Assuming it does, Amazon keeps moving your goods between warehouses - how do you keep track which states do you have nexus in and need to have a business license in?

3. Assuming you figured it out, in some places you need to register per county, not per state (I believe it was 10+ registrations in one state, can't remember which). With all the locations with Amazon warehouses you're looking at 25+ licences. Possibly 40+.

4. Let's say you're willing to handle the 40+ business licences you're supposedly required to hold, you have to file 40+ tax returns with different deadlines, make 40 payments and keep track of law changes. Also you have to pay to get a business license and often you have to pay to keep it active every year.

5. Add being a foreign seller (let's say Canadian):

- out of all the states with Amazon warehouses only 2 will accept a non-us business address when registering for a business license. The others either don't allow you to select a country, require you to select a US state or only accept The One True Zipcode Format.

- taxes you remit using ACH will also routinely explode due to a non-US address on your US bank account.

- sure, you can file a paper registration (usually at 3+ times the registration fee), unless the state only accepts a XFA PDF form that generates a scannable code. One DOR representative told me the only way I'm getting a licence in that case is if I show up in person.

- government issued photo id is sometimes required. Guess which government often is the only one that exists ;-)

By comparison in EU you collect VAT per destination country, remit it to your local tax office indicating where it should go and forget about the whole thing.


My impression (as a failed American businessperson who aimed for full legal compliance) is that successful businesspeople (at least in America) tend to accept that full legal compliance is impossible and instead worry only about the risk of noncompliance.

As such, I think the much more common approach is to ignore even the clear local requirements until there is a demonstrated downside to doing so. Proactively worrying about compliance on the edge cases where no one is currently losing expensive losing lawsuits is viewed as somewhere between insane and suicidal.

Are you perhaps from a more traditional country (or part of the US) where obeying the law still has a strong moral component?


Seriously - the revenue can come and audit me if they think I'm in the wrong, and I'll happily pay the costs of coming into compliance if they can demonstrate why those costs need paying.

Otherwise? Screw it, I'll just do the best I can with either a scattered brain and handful of receipts, or a few hours of a desultory tax attorney's time.

If you want better, make the rules simpler. I don't have the money or time to deal with this byzantine bullshit properly, and the tax collectors not going to convince me that it's worth my time to do proactively with any argument short of a gun.


Even hiring a remote team is incredibly difficult. Want to hire someone in a new city? OK, register with the secretary of state, complete the business licensing, depending on state you may need a registered agent for the area they live in, and your tax paperwork will be there in 21 days. Hope they don't need payroll until then!


Use a PEO, bam, done!


Tax avoidance is a felony.. so there is that.


Sorry to be pedantic, but tax avoidance is completely legal and encouraged. Tax evasion is illegal.

In the former, you make legal financial decisions that minimize your tax burden, in the latter, you illegally hide your wealth. It's not always black and white, but the distinction is important.

http://www.nouse.co.uk/2013/01/22/what-is-the-difference-bet...


There are some really insane and conflicting local, state and federal laws in the US when it comes to running a business and especially if it's retail. It's easier to ignore for most small and medium business until there's an audit. Personally, I find the whole sales tax situation to be borderline insane. I understand the need for local governments to have a revenue source - I totally do. However, it would make it easier for businesses to comply and local governments to maximise tax collection if they simply all get together and have one collection agency at the federal level which then splits the revenue according to place of sale and sends it back.


By contrast Australia has GST (goods and services tax - 10% universal sales tax on almost everything except a few “essentials” exceptions like fresh food, some basic utilities? But is generally only paid by consumers - businesses claim back the GST that they pay ) which is collected federally. And all our tax is handled by one federal agency.

Generally speaking all prices listed are GST inclusive at least for consumers and store fronts. You pay what the price sticker says.

Where it breaks down for us is that GST revenue is split on a determined percentage per state that is unrelated to where it’s collected. There is some sense to that but it also causes problems as there is a strong imbalance which is argued about.

On a related note we do have a 5% payroll tax on all salaries in businesses paying over some figure I think $2m/year. This apparently goes to the relevant state and is one of our little inconsistencies left compared to what is on the whole quite a good federally administered system by one agency. One tax return. One tax rate.


Canada has a Harmonized Sales Tax which covers both provincial and federal taxes, it works wonders and saves hundreds of millions of dollars a year in useless bureaucracy. Canada supports this suggestion. ;)


You have the risk that such revenue is divided unevenly based on other criteria. Taxes should be ideally local: being global makes it easier for low tax revenue places get money from high tax revenue areas.

Not to mention that competition lowers taxes for sure.


> successful businesspeople (at least in America) tend to accept that full legal compliance is impossible and instead worry only about the risk of noncompliance

That's because it's cheaper to settle than to be compliant as a result of prosecutors willing to settle for a fraction of what would otherwise be due, but avoiding a long trial.

If government is not involved businesses often settle for more than would otherwise be due, to avoid a long and costly trial. Curious..

Anyway, in most civilised world the opposite is true. Non-compliance can be VERY costly.

Going back to your question: I've run my first businesses in EU and I still have EU mindset. I'd rather have the piece of mind knowing that I'm compliant.

And as much as it's going to sound weird in the light of Apple tax "optimisation" I can afford to pay my taxes, even if I don't live in US and don't benefit from them in any way and know most of them are going to be wasted.


That's because it's cheaper to settle than to be compliant as a result of prosecutors willing to settle for a fraction of what would otherwise be due

That's likely true, although I think the dominant factor is probably the laxity of enforcement. That is, even if the penalties far exceeded the cost of compliance, if your chances of being caught are small enough, the economics (if not the morality) favor noncompliance. There is also the problem that attempting to be compliant can call attention to your noncompliance, thus perversely increasing that chances that you will be penalized.

Anyway, in most civilised world the opposite is true. Non-compliance can be VERY costly.

In my mind what is worse about the current US system is that once one accepts the existence of contradictory regulatory regimes combined with lax selective enforcement, most of leverage that would keep the system sane is lost. If the penalties are severe and regularly enforced, there is a much stronger feedback to make full compliance efficient, or at least possible.

I'd rather have the piece of mind knowing that I'm compliant.

While it may provide peace of mind, realize that there is almost no way to know all the rules, and you are almost definitely noncompliant with regard to some of those you do not know. There are likely agencies that believe they have jurisdiction over you that you've never even heard of.

In my case of running a vegan frozen dessert business in California, while my research had revealed that the California Dairy Board reserved the right to regulate non-dairy frozen desserts (under the theory that a consumer might be confused into thinking that they were a dairy product) I was surprised when the federal Food and Drug Administration found me noncompliant for failing to properly register under the theory that since we had purchased some of our ingredients from another state (cocoa powder) we were engaged in interstate commerce and thus subject to their regulatory burden. While we ended up not paying any fines, and while the agents involved were polite and respectful, there were several painful days wasted on record searches and interviews with all of our key employees.


>> I'd rather have the piece of mind knowing that I'm compliant.

Well that's the problem, in my opinion. I tend to try very hard to ensure I'm compliant: I read contracts before signing them, etc. Increasingly I have no idea if I'm compliant because the contents of contracts and laws seem arbitrary and vague to me, and you have to be the person who will decide or be the lawyer who works with them to have any sense of if you're compliant or not. There's no 1 checklist you can go to to make sure you're complying with laws from multiple branches of multiple layers of government.


Perhaps it's more accurate to say that most successful businesspeople realize full compliance is impossible, and go for the 80/20 rule: 20% of the effort to get 80% compliance. At that point the IRS will go after people who are more obviously 0% compliant.


> successful businesspeople (at least in America) tend to accept that full legal compliance is impossible

This REALLY depends on the level of law. Local rules? Maybe. State or federal laws? Playing with fire. Case in point: Lyft, Uber et al versus Zenefits.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. Do not break laws.


It depends on the law. There's a big difference between a specific niche business not complying with some ambiguous, contradictory tax laws and Uber which bases their entire business model around cost savings from skirting a handful of labor laws that basically every business must be conscious of and skirting local regulations on taxi services but entrenching itself too deeply before enforcement can kick them out.


Is there a possibility for a private company to help business in compliance for a very small fee? Some kind of startup?


That is an excellent summary and why the solution should be Federal law and not a State law. The EU model would work well in that case.

However, the actors (States) aren't exactly operating in a reasonable way. What I speculate is the case is that people who you can obligate to pay taxes and yet cannot vote on those taxes make the best targets. Taxation without representation has been a sore spot for quite a long time :-).

The key here is the business license. By requiring it, the State, County, and City all get a bite at the Apple and can add their own level of tithe to the requirements. Whether it is that you meet their ADA requirements, their street address requirements, or their officer disclosure requirements, all things to generate revenue from "business" which when that business is out of state become exceptionally burdensome.

Again, the only solution I can see is a Federal law that can supercede any local law when the subject party is not a resident in the same jurisdiction. But they states will lobby very hard against that happening.


Amazon and the third party sellers aren’t being taxed. The consumers are.

Amazon could setup a big warehouse complex in South Dakota or something and avoid this problem — but they want to benefit from local distribution.


The consumers are taxed but if you have nexus and don't collect the tax then the business becomes fully liable for the uncollected tax.


What I don't understand is why you need to have a local presence to be affected at sales tax.

Why on earth should selling goods from Oregon in Seattle not be subject to Washington sales tax, but selling goods from Seattle to Seattle be subject to it? This punishes local businesses, and encourages tax arbitrage.

As far as I see it, if you sell to residents of Washington, you have a presence in Washington.


Unless an interstate agreement is in place, Washington has no business telling Oregonians what to do.

The local nexus concept is that once you have a presence in the state, you’re obliged to follow the laws of that state.

I live in New York. If I ship FBA inventory to my agent (Amazon) in a California warehouse, California wants me to follow their law. Makes sense, and is easily avoided by not using Amazon FBA.

Amazon plays it both ways. They get to avoid collecting sales tax by claiming to be just a fulfillment house, but they market in such a way that it is difficult to buy from them. In the process of making that argument, they push that legal liability to the smaller entities who use their site. Amazon is the asshole here.


In Washington, you're supposed to pay use tax on any untaxed item brought into the state. I don't know anyone who does though.


I wouldn't even know how


>As far as I see it, if you sell to residents of Washington, you have a presence in Washington.

The Supreme Court disagrees.

The buyer still owes use tax if their state requires it. But the out-of-state seller with no nexus in the state has no obligation to collect that tax or provide information under most circumstances to the state in which the purchase was made.


Washington can't force a company located outside of WA to pay taxes.


If they are selling goods inside WA, surely they are located in WA. I mean, I can claim to be located on the moon for all good it does me, but if I do business in WA, surely I have a presence there, and that business must comply with WA laws.


They are subject to tax.

You're supposed to pay "use tax" for things you buy from outside of your tax jurisdiction and didn't pay sales tax on. That's absolutely everything, technically.

For my state you're supposed to report all your out of state purchases on your income tax return.

The reason is because a given jurisdiction has no power to tax a business in another jurisdiction. They can tax you though,you are in their jurisdiction.


Because Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 is the Commerce Clause and it states that only congress is allowed to regulate interstate commerce.

Do you really want to have trade wars between Washington and Oregon? Oregon tariff/taxes the fuck out of software and Washington responds by tariffing the fuck out of whatever Oregon makes a lot of? (probably weird shit, I've been to Portland once).


No, the businesses are taxed, and they pass the cost to the consumer. The "sales tax" itemization the end of the receipt is for informational purposes only.


Sales taxes are usually kept in segregated, designated accounts and are swept weekly to the taxing authority.

Some merchants bury that cost in the sales price, but generally speaking it’s a seperate line item that is treated differently. Merchants comingle those funds at their peril.


They are collecting a sales tax on behalf of the taxing government from the buyer and are then legally required to pass that money on. Of course, money is fungible so the revenue including sales tax goes into the big bucket and then money has to be taken out of that bucket to pay the tax. But in principle, they're just taking in money and passing it through.


It's a sales tax, not a 'buying' tax. Say, a company sells you a $100 item for $100, forgetting to include the tax in the final price. And say no one ended up paying tax for that transaction for in that tax year. Who is the government going to go after once they realize this to collect the $8.75 sales tax - you or the company?

Edit: I think you are confusing it with income tax. What you are saying happens for salaried income in USA.


The presumption is that you, as (say) a local retailer, collected sales tax on what you sold because you have a legal requirement to do so. Doesn't matter if you split it out or not, you effectively collected sales tax one way or the other because state law says you had to. If, in your mind, you didn't collect any sales tax, too bad because you had to. You don't have the option to tell the customer "Hey, we're not going to collect sales tax. Please send it in yourself."

If you weren't required to collect sales tax, it is actually the customer who is on the hook to remit it. Of course, there's often no way to enforce this.

>Edit: I think you are confusing it with income tax. What you are saying happens for salaried income in USA.

Sort of but not really. Employers collect an estimated income tax liability based on your salary and what you've put on your W-4. The individual is still responsible for paying the right taxes and may be subject to penalties and having to make future quarterly tax payments if those withholdings are too low.

ADDED: The difference is the the government (in general) knows your taxable income and it's up to you to make the appropriate payments. In the case of sales tax/use tax, the government (thankfully) doesn't have the detailed and personal information to determine liability at the individual level so they have sellers do the up-front collection as much as possible.


No, it’s a sales and use tax. Merchants are required to maintain a license to collect and remit timely payments.

If you spend a significant amount of money on something like a car that requires registration or regularly buy other goods in high dollar quantities in Delaware or New Hampshire that you enjoy at home in Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, the tax man will notice and eventually show up to collect.


Exactly this. It is a tax on a business based on their sales, and it is demanded whether or not the consumer pays it as a separate line item or not.

That said, it is a common misunderstanding, and it is made more so by companies that advertise "and we'll pay the sales tax!" They are always paying the sales tax, just most times they pass that cost along to the consumer.


They are always paying the sales tax, just most times they pass that cost along to the consumer.

While you are technically correct that this is how "sales tax" works, it's worth keeping in mind that in most states "sales tax" is mirrored by "use tax", and that these two "mutually exclusively" apply to the same purchases.

That is, if the seller is subject to the laws of a state they are generally required to obtain a "seller's permit" and to pay the sales tax, and are liable if this tax is not paid. But if a resident of that state purchases from someone who is not under that jurisdiction, the buyer then legally required to pay the same amount as a "use tax", and assumes the same liability. For California, see Question 1 here on "What is the difference between sales tax and use tax?": https://www.boe.ca.gov/sutax/faqtaxrate.htm#1

Which leads me to ask: for those of you in this thread saying "sales tax is not a buying tax", are you aware of the existence of this "use tax" and making a subtle semantic point that accidentally encourages illegal behavior, or are you unaware that of the interplay between the two? If previously unaware (and assuming you've ever purchased an item in a situation where sales tax was not charged), are you likely to change your behavior and self-report, or do plan to knowingly continue to engage in tax fraud?

(For the record, I do not self-report, although I do feel guilt about it.)


Yes, the first attempt by the states to get around the lack of interstate taxes, the imposition of a mirror tax on the party that was inside the state.


> Taxation without representation has been a sore spot for quite a long time :-).

For non-American readers: this is why the USA declared independence from Britain.


The clusterfuck is Amazon, who clearly has the ability to collect taxes on FBA product.

They fought unsuccessfully to resist their own tax obligations, and pushed liability for tax, counterfeit product, and other issues to an army of third parties. They get to benefit by pushing phoney “third party sales” that they fulfill to avoid customers paying tax.


Collecting the taxes from a seller perspective is a solved problem - 10 minutes of Amazon account setup.

Knowing if you have to collect those taxes, remitting them according to 50 sets of rules, often contradictory.. is a whole different story


It's way more than 50 sets of rules considering in some states (like NY) every single municipality has the ability to levy sales tax and those taxes can get complicated. For example, in some counties in NY county sales tax is charged on clothes and some counties it isn't but state tax is always charged on clothes.

The rules are always changing too.


I work in sales tax law and my theory is that the states will agree that it does not create nexus because the seller is not DELIBERATELY deciding where the product is being stored. In other words, it is impossible for the seller to even know which state they have nexus with.


Amazon provide reporting which allows you to work out which states you have stock in. It is by no means straightforward but certainly can be done.


My understanding is FBA inventory is fungible, so how would that work when Amazon fulfills an order from inventory that another seller warehoused?


As I understand it California for example would claim you have a nexus once any stock at all has been moved into an Amazon warehouse in their state. In that case all you would need to see is that Amazon has moved some of your stock into CA and then you would have a nexus and owe sales tax on any sales to customers in CA that your business does, regardless of where that stock comes from.

To clear yourself of this nexus requirement for CA you would need to have had no stock stored there for a 6 month period.

Obviously whether Amazon internally transporting one unit of your stock to CA for a few days constitutes a "substantial presence" is an untested legal question.


This is a really good write up of the problem.

For me the issue isn't even about having to charge the consumer tax as a marketplace seller that uses FBA. It's the logistical overhead of registering, tracking, and paying sales tax 40+ different ways 4x per year. This essentially makes it impossible for smaller sellers to compete.


These issues of keeping track of stuff seem utterly trivial compared to what Amazon already does. I fail to see why this is a problem. I also fail to see why requiring businesses to follow the law is a bad thing. If it's too difficult, then talk to the legislators, don't just ignore the rules and regulations in place.


Imagine having to hold a seller's license in every state just to sell on eBay. A lot of people who sell on Amazon are also just 1 person businesses. It's a lot of extra paperwork, time, and cost for one person.


Even with 50 people it would still be a significant burden


The reason they complain so much is because it just ads extra cost to them because of audits.


Sounds like there is a Commerce Clause case to be made in there somewhere?


There has always been. It hinges on the whether the business has a nexus by storing product in an Amazon warehouse. The problem is:

a) States really really hate that part of the Constitution, and verdict in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, which led to the inability of states to collect tax across state lines. Up to the point of passings laws that directly contradict that Supreme Court verdict. So you're going to get sued, it's just a matter of how long it takes to make its way through the courts. b) They piss off enough states, the state governments complain to their Senators and Representatives, and suddenly we have an arm of the IRS federally given the power to collect state sales tax. Which means the IRS gets to know everything you bought online.

Amazon agreed to collect taxes to mollify the states, so they wouldn't start the above two options. It's a giant company, so it can take the hit of compliance. It also puts them at a competitive advantage over smaller retailers. Their margin is Amazon's opportunity after all!

If they get forced, I suspect Amazon might even get into the business of determining sales tax required for third parties, on that county by county basis. Make it an API, price it by the lookup, more business for them. Call it Compliance as a Service (CaaS).


And presumably work out some deal where they can transparently remit the sales tax on behalf of the sellers. That's probably the bigger deal than determining the amount which I imagine Amazon could do pretty easily.

In terms of what they sell themselves, they were well on their way to having a presence in every state anyway between warehouses, Amazon locker, etc. So they pretty much rolled on something that was going to be a moot point in a few years anyway.


Maybe states and localities need to put the onus on citizens. Legislate at the federal level for reporting sales to some central agency (similar to how employers report salaries to the IRS; perhaps limiting the reports to categories of items and total amount per period [month, quarter, year, w/e]), states query the database and issue a report to each citizen to accompany their state income tax filings.

Add any unpaid sales & use amounts to the income tax bill.


>Maybe states and localities need to put the onus on citizens.

They do. At least in most states buyers are supposed to pay use taxes on purchases.

>some central agency

Sorry, but that's an absolutely awful idea. I do NOT want all my purchases reported to some federal agency.


Don't worry, surely the government will save us.


- Create a new class of business licence that is valid for entire country for sales outside of a brick and mortar store - online/phone/carrier pigeon.

- Have sellers collect tax as if they had nexus in every state in US - it's horrible with thousands of different rates, but at least it's a solved problem. Removes Amazon advantage of shipping across state lines to avoid sales tax.

- Have sellers file a single tax return with a per-state breakdown.


This is a pretty good argument for VAT over sales tax.


Possible solutions (speaking about the US of course):

1. Let the federal government establish a uniform national sales tax and outlaw all state and local sales taxes.

2. Even better, eliminate sales taxes entirely. Replace it with higher income taxes or property taxes. Yes, yes, I know, regressive, not progressive, taxing consumption is better, but there's something to be said about an economy without crazy levels of bureaucracy and regulations.

3. Just keep fighting off the states until they accept that Internet orders should be non-taxable. The Internet has completely changed the business models of music delivery, porn, and newspapers. No reason it can't eventually convince states to back off on sales taxes.


You have it backwards. taxing consumption is actually more regressive than taxing income - the spending a wealthy person has is far more variable (and generally a lower % of income - some of it goes to investments, etc).


Actually, there is no reason a consumption tax can't be progressive. Comsumption = income - net_savings. Some years you might even have negative net savings, and the formula still works.

It turns out that reports from all the same reporting entities that report to the IRS now are nearly sufficient to implement such a scheme, most of the data is there, it just might have to be reformated, perhaps some bits and pieces added to the report.

You can exempt consmption below some amount, say a reasonable amount of money to feed, cloth, and house your family, and provide basic transportation. Then you can have a progressive tax rate applied to consumption above that. Rich people are not going to stop buying yachts, fancy cars, linen suits, and avocado toast. The net effect on the economy should be good overall.

Usually when someone says "consumption taxes are regressive": a) they only imagine collecting the tax point-of-sale, and b) they don't imagine a consumption tax with a variable rate. But in reality, a progressive consumption tax is a simple matter of tweaking the current reports sent to the IRS by employers and financial entities for the income tax computation, and then applying different arithemetic.


domestic investments => jobs


Not true if "investments" are just chasing fixed assets like real estate in a zero-sum manner.


The federal government has no Constitutional authority to outlaw sales taxes on intrastate sales.


I did realize that, but there are ways the federal government could do it. For example, the way they strong-armed[1] all the states to impose a 55 mile per hour speed limit for a period of 2 decades by threatening to cut off highway funding.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Maximum_Speed_Law#Ena...


That was an unconstitutional disgrace and should not be a model for the future.


There was nothing unconstitutional about that. The States were free to set whatever speed limit they liked if they didn't want federal money to fix their state highways.

Moreover, that mechanism is precisely the mechanism by which the Federal government convinces states to enact federal policies: by dangling federal monies in exchange for the enactment of state laws.


I downvoted this, but now I wonder if I was too hasty. I agree that it might be a disgrace, but I don't know of any legitimate argument that the approach was unconstitutional. Do you have such an argument?


They lacked the explicit constitutional power to enforce the federal will, so they did it in a sneaky, backhanded manner by pulling at the purse strings.

Same BS as making the uniform drinking age of 21 years.

The feds raise taxes in every state to pay for something, then extort those same states to dance to the federal tune in order to get back some of the money taken from their citizens to build roads that would benefit them. If the Feds didn't take that money, the state could have taken it to build their own roads.

It would be great if the federal power could not transfer funds to the states without using apportionment solely by criteria that cannot be gamed politically. Divide-and-conquer is not a tactic that should be countenanced within a federation of supposed equals.

I think Real ID is the latest round of the same way of strong-arming the states, by denying to non-compliant states a benefit that will be enjoyed by compliant states.


From a strictly legal perspective, probably not. But, in general, we shouldn't applaud the federal government effectively forcing the states to implement policies through indirect measures when it isn't allowed to do so directly.

There possibly comes a point when the stick becomes so big and so disconnected from the behavior being forced that an amenable Supreme Court rules it's an end run around the constitution.


False, the court found this sort of thing Constitutional in South Dakota v. Dole.


This is worse - those are in-state sales according to most states: your goods are shipped from a warehouse in the state to an address in the state.


Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942).


Ad. 2

I've seen proposals (in EU countries at least) to do the opposite: eliminate personal income tax in favour of VAT/Sales tax - removes the burden of filling (and more importantly processing) personal income tax returns, removes 99% of all entities that could be subject to tax audits and so on.


The parent comments mentions a solution where there can still be different tax regimes like the EU. But, you only pay tax to one place and they take care of splitting. Let the bureaucracy do it's work.


#2 sales tax is highly regressive/flat, income tax is progressive to highly progressive, and property tax is mildly progressive (property is a form of consumption).


Property taxes are fairly progressive, from where I sit. Richer people have more assets and would pay more taxes.


Except there is no accounting for income. So if I'm poor, or become poor, I still have to pay the assesed property tax on any property I own. I may be forced to sell the property as a result.

Property tax works against poor people being able to own property or keep property they own.

This is why elderly people who may own their homes free and clear can still be forced out of them when they retire or become disabled.


A fix to this would be to lien the property with the unpaid taxes, but not force the sale. Eventually, the owner will sell or die. The tax liens can be recovered at that point.

For an example tax of 2%, the property could sustain the liens for decades, allowing the owner to keep control of the land, even if they're unable to pay the taxes owed. The revenue to the government could be provided by bonds backed by those liens. Maybe require some portion of the tax to be paid in cash, and some penalty rate on the liens, to encourage payment of taxes by those that can afford them?


> ...if I'm poor, or become poor, I still have to pay the assesed property tax on any property I own.

Are you really poor if you own valuable assets?


Speaks to a problem of means testing property taxes on anything other than the property value - how to define poor in a way that can’t be games by skillful accounting?


Many jurisdictions offer deferred property tax payments for the retired, or disabled.

Aside from that, someone who owns valuable fixed property free and clear should be able to find a lender who can open a small mortgage against the property to cover taxes.


I would still require income to be able to pay back that mortgage.


If you're poor, how did you come to own the assets in the first place?

If you became poor, then maybe you should sell the property to gain more liquidity, balance your portfolio, and transfer the property to someone with enough income to fully maintain it.


People's situations change all the time. And saying that someone should have to leave their property that they own because they can't afford the taxes on it is pretty awful. Especially if they can't afford them because property values spiked.


They can also be quite regressive. If you buy a house somewhere, live in it and retire, and then property values shoot up, you're kinda screwed.


Hence Prop 13 in California--which lots of folks here complain about on a regular basis.


Alternatively Amazon could be responsible for collecting and paying the sales tax for you.


They could, but they don't want the potential liability when they get it wrong. And they will get it wrong, sales tax rules can be incredibly arcane.

For example, in Minnesota groceries are tax-free but ready-to-eat prepared food is not. If I buy a pizza from Papa John's it gets taxed, if I buy a bake-it-yourself pizza from Papa Murphy's it doesn't.


They already have to deal with this complexity for their own products.


Yes, but they can justify the liability for products they sell themselves. There's also a problem with products that Amazon doesn't sell which are carried only by third parties.


Something tells me "brick and mortar" won't be big fans of option 3.


> (...) from the millions of independent merchants who sell products through Amazon’s website

It may make Amazon of lot of money, but it has become increasingly frustrating to try to buy products through Amazon. Get thousands of hits on a search. Mostly the same crap through a thousand dropshippers. Used to shop through Amazon because it was consistent and easy. Now it's like shopping on Ebay.


It gets worse the closer you get to generic items, like usb cables. What’s more annoying is filtering by prime and selecting amazon as the seller doesn’t actually stop marketplace sellers from showing up. All they have to do is be just one cent cheaper than amazons price.


eBay is actually better for "generic" items like USB cables, because at least you know you're getting whatever's in the picture. There's no telling what you'll get from Amazon... unless it's sold+shipped by Amazon.


Even if it’s shipped and sold, because they comingle inventory there’s a chance it won’t be identical. That’s why anker products are listed the way they are. Prevents 3rd parties from coming in and selling fakes.


I don't think Amazon comingles "Sold and shipped by Amazon" inventory. Or at least they didn't use to - do they now?


Purchased a Pure water filter shipped and sold by Amazon for my girlfrend...it arrived yesterday. I go over to her apartment to install it and wow what a surprise. It was a used filter. The filter element was in a ziplock bag. One of the faucet attachments was out of its packaging and the inside of the main unit was wet. It has nearly caused me to not renew Prime this spring.


This is a different but similar problem. The wearhouse employees mark pretty much every return as "sellable" and put it on the shelf if it's in the box it came in. Even if the return reason is "tried it and it doesn't work." Leads to a lot of people getting returned items.

I wrote this is a comment last week:

>Several years ago I sold a memory card via FBA. The buyer returned the card, they said they were returning it because of a defect, they said "card slows down significantly after it gets half full." Amazon's wearhouse receives the return, they mark it as sellable, and then sell it (as new) again!! Clearly its not new, the problem was evident only from using it!...If the return reason is "defective," why would mark as sellable ever be possible?


That's incredible! What stunning dishonesty on their part.


They do. Try to buy OEM oral b toothbrush heads someday. You'll get Chinese fakes even if you buy the ships and sold by Amazon ones.


Can't say 100% if its on sold by Amazon products but there have been a lot of reports of shady sellers using this to ship out fakes by faking the manufacturer barcodes. The FBA faq pages list commingling but are not specific about how its applied.


They always have.


How are Anker products listed?


Sold by Anker but fulfilled by amazon. It supposedly makes sure your product isn't commingled.


For USB cables specifically, I tend to get AmazonBasics cables, which seem likely to be authentic.

It hasn't been an option for USB-C cables though.


I do a lot of shopping on ebay, and lately I've been getting many of my packages from Amazon, so it appears that a lot of ebay sellers are having their fulfillment done by Amazon... havn't had any problems yet, but it could get bad.


Even worse, doesn't Amazon substitute inventory between sellers of the "same" SKU, leading to all sorts of fraud potential? This is one flaming battery on a plane away from being sued out of existence, but I sure don't want to be the person with that battery.


Amazon has actually gotten a few fines from the FAA.

https://www.engadget.com/2016/06/23/amazon-faa-fine-dangerou...

>Last week, the FAA announced a $350,000 fine for Amazon after the retailer mishandled chemical shipments that resulted in injuries to UPS workers. Today, the agency hit the company with two more fines totaling $130,000 for similar incidents. In 2014, Amazon shipped separate packages, corrosive rust remover and a flammable gas used to clean air conditioners without properly labeling the boxes or sending along the required paperwork. Failure to do so violates the FAA's hazardous materials guidelines. The box containing Rid O' Rust Stain Preventer Acid leaked through, but there were no injuries reported

http://thehill.com/policy/technology/314077-faa-proposes-910...

>The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing fining Amazon $91,000 for potentially violating hazardous material regulations.

>Amazon allegedly attempted to ship undeclared hazardous materials on FedEx air transportation in May of last year, the FAA said in a Thursday release.

>The chemicals in question were more than two gallons of toxic clear diesel fuel and tank cleaner. Workers at a FedEx facility in Sioux Falls, S.D., found the shipment leaking.

>The fine would not be Amazon's first wrist slap by the agency. The FAA has levied 22 civil penalties totaling over $1.4 million against the company since 2013.


I was thinking of something different: Amazon sells X, and super-sketchy company B claims to sell the same X "fulfilled by Amazon." I believe Amazon ships from the same stock to people ordering from both A and B. In other words, even if you order your X from Amazon, you might get an item from B's stock, since they're mixed.


As a buyer it’s even worse than eBay. At least on eBay most products have at least one seller, sometimes many, who provide fast free shipping. With Amazon it’s rare. I used to buy everything at Amazon but more and more I am switching to alternatives.


Which alternatives?


Plenty.

I'm not the GP but I don't shop at Amazon very often, maybe once or twice a year only.

I have used Newegg, Walmart.com, Target.com jet.com, chewy.com, eBay (for some items), drugstore.com, Kohl's.com, Bestbuy.com and cowboom(RIP), overstock.com, toysrus.com, Rakuten, b and h photo, TigerDirect. Plus ordered direct from manufacturer on some stuff (Columbia jacket, Pyrex.)

Thats what I can think of off the top of my head.


ebay, walmart.com, newegg.com, depending on what you are looking for. I also sometimes use aliexpress. (not the OP)


Yup. I only buy items that are “Shipped and sold by amazon.com” because I know they may mix some inventory and I’m kind of overpaying but it’s a huge quality signal when amazon themselves sells a product.

My information is also not shared with some random seller with terrible security.

Amazon also needs to ban manufactures and sellers that offer review bribes.

Using amazon.com exclusively made Amazon work for me again. I would cancel my account if it was only third party sellers.


I think it's more of a sell-through volume signal than a quality signal myself.


It means a lot of metrics are good including return rates and reviews. I also filter by 4 stars and look for 50+ legit looking reviews always. Also check the distribution of the review scores.


"My information is also not shared with some random seller with terrible security."

Take some comfort in knowing that no customer data is shared with third-party sellers.


name, mailing address, product(s) purchased -- all shared with third party FBA sellers. Sounds like customer data to me.


> Used to shop through Amazon because it was consistent and easy. Now it's like shopping on Ebay.

All the hassles and searching would be worth it if the prices on amazon weren't so horrible. Especially their scammy amazon pantry. Household items like paper towels and laundry detergent are sometimes 2X or more what I'd get in my local supermarket on a sale.

Prices are terrible on amazon but at least amzn's stock price has skyrocketed.


Amazon prices are insane, and not in either a bad or a good ("Crazy Eddy") way. Take a look at the price of a pack of toilet paper, which has fluctuated by almost 3x this year: https://camelcamelcamel.com/Charmin-94045-PGCCT-Bathroom-Tis...


The same is happening in the EU where marketplace sellers are using tons of shady tactics essentially pocketing the VAT for themselves and having a 10-25% (depending on EU country) extra profit compared to businesses that follow the law.


I honestly don't think sales tax as currently structured is worth the complexities (and is also - uninformed armchair lawyering opinion incoming - conceivably a violation of the commerce clause since its taxed rate is not reflective of anything that explicitly occurred within state borders as it would be with a VAT or similar).

I also feel like taxes are something that deserves to be in a the transaction handling layers rather than the buyer/seller layers. Of course this would drive people to cryptocurrency, but imagine if taxes were just added to your credit card bill based on its billing zipcode and merchants didn't have to think about it at all. I mean for all kinds of reasons it's not feasible, but it seems like the least pain point to deal with transaction taxes is at the transaction.


> imagine if taxes were just added to your credit card bill based on its billing zipcode and merchants didn't have to think about it at all

That would be great, for customers. You can have your billing zipcode anywhere you want, regardless of where you might technically live or buy things.


No that would be terrible for customers because the .gov would hike taxes and they wouldn't notice.


This seems like a rather glaring omission to have gone unaddressed for so long by such a giant? Has it not come up before?


>to have gone unaddressed for so long by such a giant?

It's complicated because Amazon isn't the one who owes the state taxes -- it's the marketplace sellers. This is a different situation from the previous cases of "nexus" which determines state taxes that Amazon itself owes. That nexus case was resolved and Amazon has been paying its own state taxes for many years now.

In other words, Amazon already pays all sales taxes for items that say "Ships from and sold by Amazon.com." Amazon does not file sales taxes for items such as "Sold by RareOldBooks and Fulfilled by Amazon."

Even if Amazon added a "sales tax" line item for 3rd-party marketplace sellers, it's still up to those marketplace entities to properly file their state tax forms and declare Amazon sales revenue. The state regulators know that Amazon can't file on their behalf but they'd at least like some "help" from Amazon by way of audited reports so they know which marketplace sellers to pursue.

In contrast, Ebay does have the ability for sellers to add sales tax for bidders when they check out. However, it's optional. Ebay doesn't actually collect the sales tax money for sellers. In other words, Ebay is just providing a sales tax "calculator" rather than acting as a sales tax "collector". Paypal also doesn't collect and pay sales tax on behalf of sellers.



>The theory is that they are the actual seller.

Right, South Carolina in particular wants to change the "seller of record" from the marketplace sellers to Amazon itself. Most of the other states are targeting the marketplace sellers and they want more of Amazon's help in that. (E.g. add explicity sales tax line items like Ebay and provide audit reports to help identify sales tax evaders.)


Which, if sellers are going to collect sales tax at all, is probably the only thing that makes sense. It's impractical for small sellers to file tax returns for all the states they sell to just because they sell on Amazon. (And in the vast majority of cases, non-Amazon sellers without a presence in the buyers state don't and, indeed, can't be forced to.)


Amazon is making selling easy taking almost all of the steps out of the hands of the seller, sales tax should be included in this. If they don't come up with a way of facilitating tax payments and calculations in the same way they facilitate everything else, regulators are going to come and force them.


Alternatively, tax regulations could be updated so it's not effectively impossible for the little guy to stay in compliance on his own.

Sales tax regimes were all worked out in a time when most sales were local, brick and mortar. The world has changed drastically since then - it's time for tax laws to catch up a little too.


Couldn't Amazon basically offer them a TurboTax like service and basically generate all of the filled in filing forms the seller needs? Then it would be up to the seller to review with their accountant and actually submit.


>Then it would be up to the seller to review with their accountant and actually submit.

For even a small seller, you're maybe looking at thousands of dollars a year for that much paperwork. So you'd have to have hundreds of thousands a year in revenue for that to make sense.


It's came up since the dawn of ecommerce. The problem is answering the following questions (and likely many more) in a way that makes everyone happy.

* Do you impose tax in the state where the seller resides?

* Do you impose tax in the state where the buyer resides?

* Do you impose tax in the state where the item is warehoused?


Hasn't this long been answered with "yes" for #2 and "no" for the others? When I buy from Amazon, they pay sales tax where I live, but not where the item came from or any other place where they have a presence.

The only wrinkle is that #2 is not very well enforced when a company doesn't have a presence in the buyer's state, but it's still technically required.


No, if the buyer and seller do not reside in the same state (an by reside, for the seller, it includes having a business "nexus") then it is interstate commerce, and states can't require sellers to collect sales tax. (They usually instead impose use tax on the buyer).


I don't understand, what's "no" about that? I didn't say sellers were required to pay tax, merely that paying tax was still required. As you say, it becomes the buyer's responsibility if the seller doesn't have a presence in the state.


Some (all?) states already have a use tax that people are supposed to pay. So, that takes care of the second *. Personally, I lean towards that's enough.


I live in a state that does not have sales tax. But if I purchase something for a family member, and have it shipped to their house, I pay the sales tax for their state. So even though I'm the buyer, sales tax actually works based on where the product is shipped to.

So number 2 should probably not be about where the buyer resides, but where the buyer ships the product.


The item was used and enjoyed at the destination.

If I am a resident of New Hampshire, and my wife buys me a sandwich online that I eat in California, why would California be cheated out of their tax?


Use tax is mostly unenforced because states have no visibility and can't force other states's residents to report sales.


With online sales, all of that is on record on credit card or bank account statements. All they have to do is jack up the penalties on sales/use tax evasion, and randomly audit people.


The state with the buyer should require through law the buyer to file a transaction record with their state revenue department for use tax unless the receipt contains a transaction ID showing tax was collected by the seller (can any of us argue this is hard in today’s age of API submissions? I don’t believe so).

Buyers then prefer sellers who collect taxes for them. This forces Amazon and other marketplaces to collect the tax.

The law already requires this in aggregate (use tax from the buyer of sales tax wasn’t paid). Very similar to how you can only claim dependents if your provide their social security number. Great way to bring entities into tax payment compliance.


It's not practical for states to go after individual buyers


Disagree. It isn’t hard at all with automated compliance.


Great. So your state ought to have a record of everything that's been shipped to you.


Nah, you just make voluntary compliance the preferred option.

If people and Amazon paid their damn taxes, we wouldn’t even be discussing this.


There's plenty of smaller sellers that would love to be in compliance, but due to the nature of US sales tax and how FBA works (i.e., you don't know where all your product has been stored) it's practically impossible for them to be in full compliance, so they don't even try. Sometimes better to stay off another state's radar completely than get drug into a spat over partial compliance.


Could sellers not charge tax on all purchases for the product destination regardless of FBA sourcing?


Say you bring a new widget to market, as a small business, and you start selling via FBA. Pick your favorite kickstarter project and imagine it's you.

There are thousands of sales tax jurisdictions in the US, between states, counties, and cities. There is no way you, as a little guy, can manage all that.


I asked because of the YC thread today about “startup ideas” and this is a legitimate need for thousands of businesses.


>legitimate need for thousands of businesses

It's not though. If I live in California and have a presence only in California and ship a widget to Pennsylvania, I'm under no requirement, as a matter of constitutional law, to collect PA state sales tax on that purchase. What the buyer states, on their own state tax forms, is their own business.

This specific case, about sellers affiliated with Amazon but not part of Amazon, is ultimately for Amazon, its affiliates, and the states to resolve. There isn't a role for an independent startup. The same would apply to present or future networks of sellers in the same vein.


Your response is why my other related comments mention only through legislation this gets fixed. Everyone is complacent because no single entity is held responsible, and people are evading taxes because of it.

Attempting to justify tax evasion with constitutional law is unacceptable.


Or states simply figure out more reasonably enforceable and appropriate revenue sources. A number of states already get by without state sales tax of any sort(1) so that's not an unreasonable option. To the degree that collecting sales tax on interstate purchases is difficult yet, perhaps, increasingly important, I'd suggest that eliminating that dependency is a better option than increased government intrusion.

Personally, I'll be sure to vote against any representative who advocates for databases of online purchases or anything in that vein.

(1) Sort of. NH, for example, does have a relatively high tax on meals eaten in restaurants.


Right, but they don't, so what exactly are you proposing? It's frankly not clear to me.


I’m proposing using legislation to fix the problem.


Right, and how are you proposing to enforce that legislation? Passing laws solves nothing by itself. How would you get buyers to file whatever you ask them?


Fines if they don’t file the required data, which they don’t have to file if they purchase from a marketplace that properly collects sales tax.


They can't be forced depending upon your definition of whether a company has a nexus in your state (Quill vs. US):

https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/91-0194.ZO.html

Amazon got pressured to collect in some states by those states considering Associates and other programs to constitute a nexus.

Note that in most (all?) states [that have a sales tax] the buyers supposedly have to pay sales/use taxes anyway. The debate is whether Amazon has to collect those taxes on behalf of the state.


It seems the "right" solution here is for Amazon to pay the sales tax, so each marketplace seller doesn't have to deal with it. Of course Amazon keep the prices low (and sales up) but saying it's the sellers problem, knowing many of them are not paying their taxes.


The real answer is that states and local municipalities don't matter.

They are too weak to enforce their laws. Their decision making process comes down to enforcing its tax regime and possibly losing all the commerce when the big company just moves away - increasing their irrelevancy and underfunding - or not bringing it up at all.

Only a select few governments, national governments, and multinational governments are relevant enough to coax corporations into compliance.

And even then, they are just trying, as the entire framework of their government's existence can be successfully challenged by the corporation's lawyers.


> Caught in the middle are Amazon’s marketplace sellers, who run the gamut from small mom-and-pop operations

This will be a nightmare to fix, especially for the small sellers. Taxes based on where the seller is, taxes based on where the buyer is, taxes based on where the warehouse is, etc. Plus accounting and declaring profits government.


Another very real and expensive proposition from the point of the marketplace seller is the cost of compliance in each State and within each State every municipal tax district. Collecting sales tax is relatively easy, filing to remit that tax in each state is a varied, difficult and expensive process that most "mom and pop" retailers can't easily comply.


Aren't there services that can handle this for smaller companies? Delivering physical goods to thousands of households scattered across the US is an even more varied, difficult, and expensive process, yet many "mom and pop" companies do it with ease by outsourcing it.


I wonder if this would actually help the Chinese sellers on Amazon, since they could continue to undercut the "mom and pop" sellers, who have to factor in added costs for compliance and tax.


The US government already makes it cheaper for us to get Chinese goods. Admittedly, it was to protect mail service between countries, but as most things, is being gamed.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/439532/us-postal-servi...


And yet, this has been a thing long before Amazon existed. They were able to pull it off back then.


It actually hasn't. Anyone without a presence in the buyer's state who shipped anything out of state (aside from some particular bigger ticket items that are registered to the buyer in some way) simply didn't collect sales tax and left it up to the buyer to pay any "use tax" they owed at tax time.


And those sales were a tiny fraction of the economy compared to today, so comparatively speaking, it mattered a heck of a lot less.


> over Amazon’s resistance to charging state sales tax

Correction, it should be "collecting sales tax". The one charging state sales tax is the state, they want Amazon to collect it on their behalf.


Amazon has the ability to easily fix this. Also, I would say that I believe the reason why Amazon isn't collecting and paying taxes is not because of US sellers; it's because of foreign sellers. Their existing process allows them to put it on the seller, who may be one of the thousands of chinese sellers they are signing up. This allows them to outcompete Walmart because they can say it's the sellers responsibility. The seller, not located in the states, is under no threat to ever have to pay that state tax.


I thought the law is the buyer is response to pay for usage (sales) tax for item they purchase online.

Now, it is the seller's responsibility when the sellers don't even live or ship from that state?


It sounds like Amazon should collect taxes for the 3rd Party and FBA merchants. The states need to indemnify Amazon against sellers messing up so Amazon is not legally on the hook for any additional taxes owed by a seller. And Amazon could pass along the compliance costs to the sellers easily enough. Doing it as a whole for Amazon would simplify the matter and make it 'fair' for the merchants since it would be for all of them.


The next issue is going to be the Alibaba's and AliExpress's. Good luck trying to collect taxes there, so that means that they have an artificial advantage over domestic sellers (or reseller/dropshippers).

Personally become a big fan of AliExpress. It's a much better experience than buying a 3rd party item on Amazon. Although, only if you're flexible on shipping times.


My guess is that people/voters in these states aren't chomping at the bit to pay extra for their amazon goods. Hopefully the desire to not get unelected is greater than the desire to have not tax money to play with


My inner frustrated cyberpunk novelist says that this will be resolved when Congress admits Amazon as the 51st state.


I was paywalled form the article but wouldn't an easy solution be to rule;

1) Businesses are responsible to collect tax at point of payment.

2) Sales tax is paid at the rate of, and to the state where-ever the item is delivered to/or picked-up by purchaser.


Meanwhile in Congress...


[flagged]


https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

> Don't accuse others of astroturfing or shillage.

> Please don't comment about the voting on comments. It never does any good, and it makes boring reading.


[flagged]


We would've just warned you, but since you've acknowledged the guidelines and chosen not to follow them we've banned the account. But please don't tell anyone about our secret scheme to try to have discussions on the internet that are just a bit more thoughtful and informative.


> virtue signaling "we don't like reddit-style comments here" ninny

An anonymous action cannot possibly be signaling of any kind. Words mean things.


> An anonymous action cannot possibly be signaling of any kind. Words mean things.

What meaning are you ascribing to "signal"? According to a few common ones[1]:

1) two anonymous parties can exchange meaningful signals about each other or a third party thing,

2) one party can receive, either directly or via observation/interception, a meaningful signal from a group of anonymous parties exchanging signals in any permutation or combination between them.

An anonymous consensus reflexively contributes a signal; if it did not, various forms of cryptography would not be possible.

As a meta point, being pedantic only works if you do it correctly. Otherwise it lowers the signal to noise ratio of a forum :)

____________

1. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/signal


Signaling in this case refers to a concept from economics. Try wikipedia instead of merriam-webster.


I still disagree, for several reasons:

1) "virtue-signaling" is an idiom that doesn't directly map to the economic concept in contract theory, so you are specifying a definition the original commenter was probably not using (it's closer to evolutionary signaling),

2) even if we assume the definition of economic signaling, unless there is a special definition for anonymity in the economic context that both you and the commenter share, it is not necessary for two individuals honestly signaling about themselves to deanonymize themselves in order to enter into a contract,

3) more pertinently to #2, I could use examples of theoretical cryptography here, but we already have applied examples: it is possible to enter into smart contracts where both parties are anonymous.

It takes ~33 bits of meaningful information to uniquely identify anyone. Using the example from Wikipedia: someone betting on a sports team might be sending a signal about their own identity as a fan, but that signal is not sufficient to deanonymize them (many people are pessimistic about any given team) and it may not be honest (they may simply be a pessimistic fan).


"Virtue Signalling" is slang, and means something more prejudiced than any academic term: https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Social_justice_warrior#.22Virt...


Right, so if we downvote (literally censor) comments based on style and not content, but we also do it anonymously, it's all good, right?


I'm objecting to your bastardization of the English language. "Virtue signaling" doesn't mean "something I don't like". It has a specific meaning that comes out of behavioral economics. It's a quite interesting concept actually. Unfortunately it is the process of being taken by people like you and turned into a contentless insult to fling at people. That's a destruction of the richness of our linguistic commons and you ought to be ashamed of yourself for doing so.

The down-voters and rightness or wrongness of their actions are a separate matter.


"Virtue Signalling" has been co-opted by reactionaries to be the new "SJW" snarl word.

https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Social_justice_warrior#.22Virt...


"That's a destruction of the richness of our linguistic commons and you ought to be ashamed of yourself for doing so."

Never read a more US-centric comment on HN towards people who are a.) not native speakers b.) don't have the vocubulary which seems to be necessary to leave comments on HN. But I assume these are the times.

Luckily the most common language in 50y will be Chinese.

Hopefully they are more polite than this.


> Luckily the most common language in 50y will be Chinese

China has multiple languages and ‘Chinese’ isn’t really a single language. Mandarin is already the most spoken language by a large margin, and even that has several dialects.


Luckily we have you to point out the obvious.


> Never read a more US-centric comment on HN

In case you aren’t aware, English is spoken in many places other than the United States. Most obviously in England.


In case you are not aware, British people on HN are way outnumbered by commentators from the US, so HN is US centric and by no way UK centric.

Also concerning the nation-centric point of view, people from the UK are way less focused on their country and know other people outside their country exist.

If you are from the UK, take my apologies.

If your from the US, case in point.


Anyone downvoting this instantly correctly doesn't see any value in a post making a lot of allegations without any evidence. The "lol f u" attitude makes it easier to click the down arrow without attempting to engage someone who appears close-minded and lacking an ability to engage in civil discourse.


Right, so the burden of proof is on me to prove that selling on Amazon was in fact unprofitable. Would you like to see my receipts?

Or maybe you could just take my comment as an idea that sparks interest in your brain, and then you can go Google around for stories that confirm what I'm saying?

Wasn't aware that I was being held to such standards of academic rigour on this site where so many others get a free pass, if they're saying the right things that confirm HN's biases.


If you think you're entitled to act like a jerk if other people get a free pass, then you learned the wrong lesson. Acting like you're in some battle of YOU VS HN is just avoiding what I'm talking about, while proving everything I've said is correct.

You're now dishonestly focusing on only one part of what you said. I have sold on Amazon, not for large amounts, and could give a better explanation of why people should stay away. The fees are high, Amazon will arbitrarily gate off categories from experienced sellers with good records, and so on. That's not a high bar.

Dismissing that you should have to support what you say with substance as "academic rigor" is just stupid. Flying the flag of censorship is disingenuous when your post is all style and no substance. (Response to another comment.)




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