Powell's pays "partners" more than Measure 97 tax

Chuck Sheketoff

While Powell’s Books is going around complaining about what it would pay in taxes under Measure 97, the bookseller pays the Oregon Center for Public Policy and others more in commissions for some of its sales. Three times more.

We’re aware of this because the Oregon Center for Public Policy has a bookshelf on Powells.com where we promote books we like, and anyone who visits the shelf or searches with this customized search link and then buys books will be supporting the Center through Powell's "partner program."

Powell's pays its partners, including the Center, a flat 7.5 percent of all sales. This Partner Program is not a charitable endeavor, since anyone — not just non-profits like the Center — can participate. It is obviously a way Powell’s attracts sales.

So while Powell's is claiming in the media and elsewhere that the modest 2.5 percent tax on their sales in excess of $25 million results in a tax greater than their profit margin, they are paying the Center and other partners three times that much starting with the first dollar of sales. If its profit margin were as thin as claimed by Powell's, it means it is losing a good bit of money on a marketing program that presumably exists because it helps the bottom line at Powell's with increased sales. And that makes no sense.

If you want to know the facts about Measure 97, check the Center’s “Answers to your questions on Measure 97” blog post and our other Measure 97 resources.

And if you’re going to buy books from Powell's, start at the Oregon Center for Public Policy bookshelf at Powells.com or with our customized search link, because Powell’s has figured out how to live with a 7.5 percent commission on that sale.


Oregon Center for Public PolicyChuck Sheketoff is the executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. You can sign up to receive email notification of OCPP materials at www.ocpp.org.

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