Congress is still fighting over the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would make it easier for states to collect sales tax from companies that sell to customers across the U.S.
While eBay and some of its member companies keep lobbying against online sales taxes, Amazon "had a 180 degree shift," Jonathan Barsade, a former corporate lawyer (Akin Gump) who started Exactor seven years ago, told me. "Back in 2005, (Amazon boss Jeff) Bezos was saying they'd never pay any sales tax. But in 2009 New York passed the first 'Amazon law.' Amazon went to court and lost...So they put in a delaying game": The company reached agreements with states like Texas and Pennsylvania to build distribution centers and hire thousands of workers, and in return got "delayed tax implementation" state-by-state. That put pressure on other retailers to follow Amazon's lead -- or look like outlaws. For small merchants it meant new costs.
Barsade believes Amazon's long-term goal is to use its warehouse network -- eastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware are home to at least 5 Amazon warehouses employing more than 7,000, and the company has similar works in at least 8 other states -- to eventually go into the same-day delivery business, replacing Post Office services and competing with UPS and FedEx.