The president has been on a tear against the nation’s leading online retailer lately, suggesting in a series of tweets and comments that Amazon doesn’t pay sales taxes and takes advantage of special low prices from the United States Postal Service.
These allegations are false. But more to the point, it is wrong for the president to target a specific company in this fashion — particularly since Trump has openly tied his anti-Amazon crusade to his hatred of the Washington Post, a newspaper owned by Amazon head Jeff Bezos.
First, a word on the substance of the allegations. It is true that Amazon did not collect sales taxes in many states for much of its history, for the simple reason that the law did not require it to: As the Supreme Court has found, states have no authority to tax companies with no in-state physical presence.
In recent years, however, Amazon has expanded its operations in numerous states and faced legal pressure to collect sales tax. As a result, today Amazon collects sales tax in every state that has one (though it does not do so on behalf of its third-party sellers). In fact, it has lobbied for a law requiring its competitors to collect sales tax everywhere in the country as well.