Get Around Amazon Associates Colorado Ban
I never really put much effort into my Amazon Associates affiliate program. The truth is that most of what I write about in my freelance writing business doesn’t necessarily tie into a specific product that I can just link to in order to generate referral commissions. On the other hand, there are times when I review a book or recommend software or the like that it was nice to be able to put in an affiliate link to Amazon.com.
Update: If you primarily recommend books or toys or other items that might be available on Barnes and Noble’s website at bn.com you can always sign up for the Barnes & Noble Affiliates program. They have stores in most states, so they are already collecting sales taxes and won’t be affected by things like Colorado’s Amazon tax collection law.
Being an Amazon Associate is beneficial for several reasons. Most importantly, Amazon is not some fly-by-night web business that might end up taking someone I send there for a ride. True, not everyone will have a wonderful experience every time at Amazon, just like any other business, however, it is a respected, well-known, company, and I could hardly be faulted for sending readers their way.
All of this became moot when the State of Colorado tried to blackmail Amazon into paying state sales taxes by passing a law requiring the company to jump through hoops that were deliberately designed to be so burdensome to comply with that the company would just pay the taxes instead. That plan backfired and instead, Colorado residents are not allowed in Amazon Associates program anymore after the company “complied” with the new law by simply not doing any affiliate business in the state.
Today, however, an idea came to me while I was actually working on something else. (Isn’t adult ADD wonderful?)
How To Get Around Amazon’s State Ban
I will mention again that I never earned big money from Amazon Associates, but I did make some money. Some months I managed to earn a hundred bucks. The thing is, I never got a check.
That is, Amazon did not pay by mailing me a check to my address in Colorado. Rather, I the money earned from Amazon affiliate links was paid via direct deposit into my business checking account.
In other words, I don’t have to “live” in Colorado at all as far as Amazon is concerned. Wyoming is just an hour and a half drive to the north. It’s probably two hours to Cheyenne. In a single day I could drive up to Cheyenne, open a business checking account in Wyoming, get a post office box, or some virtual office mail service so I can put Wyoming address down as my location.
In fact, it is even easier than that. I could sign up for an online checking account, and an online virtual mailbox service with an address anywhere except Colorado, and viola — a non-Colorado Amazon Associate earning referral fees just like the rest of the country.
As long as the intention is not to conceal the source of monetary funds it is not money laundering. Technically, it would be non-payment of Colorado taxes, however, every purchase made online technically has state sales tax due on it. It’s just that the business selling the product can’t be made to collect sales taxes for a state it has no “nexus” in. Instead, the law says that the person who purchased something still owes the sales tax and is required to pay it. Of course, as a practical matter that never happens.
As of now, I haven’t put my plan into motion, and I probably won’t ever bother. It simply never has been enough of a money maker for me to put the effort into it.
However, if that ever changed for me, or if you live and Colorado and want to sign up for Amazon Associates, it wouldn’t take much to be able to get around the Colorado law that forced Amazon to abandon affiliates who are residents of that state.