Behold: How Amazon wins the sales tax wars even when it loses


FORTUNE - Amazon CoverTaxes aren’t a sexy story. And the story of Amazon’s(s AMZN) long war against collecting sales tax tends to be reported in dribs and drabs, with coverage generally focusing on battles in individual states, which can make it even more boring to keep up with the issue (or maybe that’s just me). Peter Elkind’s cover story in this week’s issue of Fortune magazine, however, focuses on the entire saga.

Maneuvering to get around taxes isn’t unique to Amazon — note Apple’s own practice of keeping billions of dollars of profits offshore. The Fortune story makes it clear, though, that Amazon’s greatest advantage in the fight over collecting sales taxes has been its ability to adapt quickly to changes in the law — even if it’s simultaneously fighting those changes aggressively. When things don’t go its way, Elkind notes, “Amazon has shrewdly and successfully maneuvered to turn each development, good or bad, to…

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