Amazon Associates back in business in Illinois thanks to Supreme Court decision

December 5, 2013
By Jacob Huebert

On Wednesday, thousands of Illinois residents got good news when Amazon announced that its Amazon Associates program – which allows bloggers and others with websites to make money when people click links on their sites to make purchases – would once again be open to them.

Amazon dropped Illinoisans from the program in April 2011 after Gov. Pat Quinn signed the so-called Main Street Fairness Act – better known as the “Amazon tax” – which required online retailers with affiliates in Illinois to collect a “use tax” for all sales to Illinois customers. Other ecommerce sites dropped Illinois affiliates as well, which meant that people and businesses that relied on affiliate marketing programs had to either shut down or leave the state. FatWallet.com, for one, moved from near Rockford, Ill., to Wisconsin, and CouponCabin.com moved from Chicago to Indiana.

The Illinois Supreme Court struck down the “Amazon tax” in October because it conflicted with a federal law that prohibits state governments from discriminating against online commerce.

That was great news for people who want to make money as Amazon Affiliates. But it doesn’t undo the harm the law caused them for the two-and-a-half years when they were barred from the program. It also won’t bring back FatWallet, CouponCabin or other businesses that left or were destroyed – or the jobs they provided. It also won’t bring back the resources the state wasted defending its unconstitutional law.

At the Illinois Policy Institute, we often point out that policy changes lives. Court decisions do, too. Thanks to the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision, Amazon can make people’s lives better again after the policy enacted by Quinn and company made them worse.

The court deserves praise for holding the General Assembly and the governor accountable for their actions. How much more damage will they cause before Illinois voters finally hold them accountable as well?

TAGS: Amazon tax, Main Street Fairness Act, marketplace fairness, taxes