BOOKS

Should Amazon Be Taxed To Protect Local Bookstores?

03/21/2012 04:55 pm ET

The French Ministry of Culture has proposed a controversial new tax on digital book industry giants such as Amazon that goes far beyond any other currently in existence, according to TechCrunch.

Should the law go through, a percentage of the profits made by larger booksellers will be given to smaller, struggling companies.

Although the aim of the legislation is to give a boost to independent booksellers hit hard by the growth of online shopping, physical stores would also be targeted.

"This is a development on a model that has seen proposals to tax online ads from the likes of Google," writes TechCrunch.

Such taxes have not been enacted in the past, partly, TechCrunch speculates, because they "are being made in the lead-up to an election, and are most likely being put out there as talking points rather than anything that would actually get implemented soon."

Still, Amazon is already at odds with French lawmakers, as they previously attempted to avoid compliance with the country's Lang Law (French law number 81-766), which attempts to prevent booksellers from selling a book for more than a 5% discount on the publisher's price.

In America, attempts to charge Amazon customers sales tax have been circumvented by the company in several states -- but not all. Last month, Virginia House members voted 95-2 in favor of applying a sales tax on the company, after the company announced the opening of a distribution center in the state.

Amazon also has employees in Arizona, but a bill proposing that the company be considered an in-state retailer (and thereby taxable) there was rejected a few weeks ago.

Amazon has consistently backed calls for the imposition of a Federal Sales Tax, with a senior staff member saying as much before a Senate Judicial Committee in November. It has yet to comment on the French proposals.

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