There’s a New Problem With Trump’s Attacks on Amazon

The president’s own online store reportedly only collects taxes in two states.

Kyle Mazza/ZUMA

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President Donald Trump has recently ramped up his attacks against Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos for not paying enough in local and state taxes. While there are plenty of problems with the president’s criticism, it looks as if hypocrisy might be a new one.

Amazon collects taxes in 45 states, but the Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the president’s own online store—which offers an array of Trump-branded items including Trump wine glasses, baseball caps, and golf accessories—pays local taxes in only two states, Florida and Louisiana. Though the web store claims it is headquartered in Trump Tower in New York City, it doesn’t appear to pay New York state taxes either. 

States require a business with a physical presence in a state to collect sales taxes on online purchases delivered to those states. A spokesman for the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance said it can’t comment on specific businesses for privacy reasons.

The White House declined to comment on the report.

In recent days, Trump has repeatedly targeted Amazon, charging the online retail giant for ripping off the US Postal Service (an accusation experts contend is dubious at best) and not paying its fair share in taxes. But Trump’s latest outrage may not have much to do with Amazon but is instead a way of attacking the Washington Post, which has produced a slew of accurate, award-winning reporting critical of the Trump administration.

While Trump isn’t one to back down from a fight, he has been notably protective of the Trump Organization and his business dealings—an area he has referred to as a red line in the special counsel’s ongoing Russia investigation. The Wall Street Journal‘s report may open another aspect of the president’s businesses to scrutiny, but that still may not put his revenge obsession with Bezos to rest.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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