ESSENTIAL FINDINGS FROM PRIME NUMBERS: AMAZON AND AMERICAN COMMUNITIES

Amazon has made much of its commitment to collecting sales taxes on items it sells in every American state, but that commitment did not begin until 2017 and even today does not cover third-party sales through the company's Marketplace, which accounts for more than half of Amazon retail sales.  Uncollected sales tax is also highly variable among the states depending on state and local tax rates and agreements in place in any given year.  The following maps highlight the most impacted states (darker colors) for the years 2014-2016:

For more information about national and state impacts, and to learn about the study methodology and data sources, download the complete report at the link above.

Read on below for highlights from Prime Numbers, or view the following:

Civic Economics and the American Booksellers Association (ABA) are pleased to share Prime Numbers, a study of the economic impact of Amazon’s retail operations in the United States. In this report, we estimate Amazon’s retail sales in the United States, both those sales made by Amazon and those by third-parties, quantify the retail space and employment displaced by those sales, and estimate collected and uncollected sales taxes for both Amazon and third-party sellers.


Civic Economics has previously analyzed the economic and fiscal impacts of Amazon in reports entitled Empty Storefronts. The first iteration, based on the 2014 Amazon Annual Report, and the second, based on the 2015 Annual Report, estimated Amazon’s annual sales of retail goods, allocated those sales across states based on disposable income, and estimated the fiscal and land use impacts of those sales at the national and state levels.


This study, Prime Numbers, was initially conceived as a simple update to the most recent Empty Storefronts study to reflect data from the 2016 Amazon Annual Report. That annual report, released in the spring of 2017, is the first to provide enough information to develop a credible analysis of sales through Amazon’s Marketplace for third-party sellers, providing that key data back through 2014. In light of this newly available information, Civic Economics and ABA elected to conduct a brand new analysis for 2014 and 2015, continuing into 2016, based on an estimate not just of Amazon’s own retail sales, as before, but adding in the sales it facilitates through Marketplace. 


Thus, for all practical purposes, Prime Numbers is a replacement for the former Empty Storefronts series, built as it is on enhanced data.