Thursday, January 14, 2010

Medals no longer available from your RBA

The Short Story:

Medals are no longer for sale from your RBA -- you must now purchase them from the RUSA on-line store . However, those of you who are planning to complete the entire Super Randonneur series with Eastern PA events, might want to hold-off on ordering medals, since they will be eligible for a handsome plaque that recognizes this notable achievement.

The Long Story:

Fellow RBAs,

Due to a change in sales tax laws, RUSA is discontinuing the option for RBAs to buy brevet medals and populaire pins (or other RUSA Store items) for resale to riders. Riders may continue to order brevet medals directly from the RUSA Online Store.

If you have extra medals or pins that you were planning to sell next year, you may return them to RUSA for a refund.

RBAs may still give away (for free) items that they have purchased out of their general budget. Examples include Populaire pins, safety items, RUSA Volunteer polo shirts, and the like. Also, in the past a few RBAs have awarded some riders free brevet medals in special cases.

This represents little or no change for most of us, but if you have questions, feel free to ask.


-john lee


John Lee,

I understand that RBA's can no longer buy medals from RUSA for resale to participants. But I do give trophies to participants who complete my entire SR series:
... will I still be able to purchase medals from RUSA, for the purpose of making a trophy (which will be given away)? Also, I'd like to include the SR medal which goes in the middle.

I also make similar trophies for the 1000k and 1200k events ... will I still be able to buy the medals myself and then give these away to the finishers?

Thanks in advance, for the clarification.


-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA


Hi Tom,

Yes, it will be perfectly fine for you to continue this nice gesture. (Thanks for the photo - looks very snazzy.)

The SR medal is another matter. RBAs have never been able to order these, so I don't expect that to change. As for the RM medal, since we (1200k organizers) are supposed to provide them to every finisher anyway, it would seem that presenting them in a trophy would be fine, too. And yes, they'll still be orderable.

One thing I didn't mention is that RBAs who give away these medals should record that fact in the results they submit, so that a rider would then not be eligible to buy another one. But that's a small issue, and I haven't researched it.

-john lee

And an even Longer Story from RUSA HQ:


We’ve received a number of private follow up questions from RBAs who want to know more about why RUSA suspended sales of medals/souvenirs to RBAs. With our sincere thanks to James Kuehn and Tim Sullivan for their very helpful research on this issue, I hope that the following explanation will clarify things a bit more.

If you still have items that you wish to return to the store for a full refund, please feel free to do so.

Best wishes for a very successful year of riding in 2010!


Lois Springsteen, President


To ensure that the RUSA online store can operate without the huge burden of collecting state sales taxes, RUSA was advised by legal counsel to stop using RBAs as resellers of RUSA souvenir items. RUSA is a Rhode Island (RI) not-for-profit corporation. Items purchased for RUSA's internal use are tax-exempt.RUSA sells items to the public via its online store, so RI considers RUSA a retailer.

RUSA does not pay state sales or use taxes on items RUSA purchases for resale. When RUSA ships an item to a buyer within the state of RI, it is obliged to collect RI state sales taxes (if the item is defined as taxable there: RI does not tax regular clothing but it does tax "logo items" such as duffel bags and coffee mugs).

When RUSA ships an item to a buyer in some other state -- New York, for example -- RUSA *might* be required to collect New York sales tax on the purchase. The requirement depends on whether RUSA has an 'economic nexus' with New York.

What is an 'economic nexus'? Historically, it has been defined as a physical presence in the state. If Joe purchases something online from WalMart, its online store will collect state sales tax if WalMart has a physical location (store) in Joe's state. If WalMart does not have a physical presence, it is not obliged to collect the tax; however, if it does not (and Joe's state has a sales tax), Joe is responsible for remitting the equivalent amount (a "use tax") to the state. Few buyers do this for internet purchases, much to the annoyance of state governments and "brick-and-mortar" retailers.

Obviously, RUSA does not have a physical presence outside RI. However, RUSA maintains independent contractors (RBAs) in various states. The direct sale of medals by RBAs to members could be a sufficient nexus between RUSA and the RBA's state to require RUSA to collect a sales/use tax through its online store. RUSA wants to avoid creating an 'economic nexus' with any taxing jurisdiction other than RI. Because there are over 8000 different taxing jurisdictions in the USA, each with its own tax rates and exempted items, it would be a huge burden for our store to figure out the taxes due (based on the buyer's location) and to collect and remit them to the states.

Recently, the 'economic nexus' idea has been extended by states passing 'Amazon Tax' laws. A company (e.g., that uses an affiliate in a buyer's state to handle the sale can create an 'economic nexus' with that state. Fortunately, the 'Amazon Tax' laws passed thus far do not apply to RUSA: small retailers are exempt (RUSA is small) and RUSA does not pay its affiliates a commission on sales. Nevertheless, 'Amazon Tax' laws are a potential danger to RUSA as more states pass them and if the requirements for their collection are lowered.

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