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Buying Online to Avoid Tax Costs Everyone in the End

Original post made by Clark Kepler, another community, on Feb 19, 2010

While economists nationwide argue over whether we have begun to recover from the Great Recession, one financial reality is beyond dispute. Our state is facing the biggest budget challenge in decades. Even in a slowly rebounding economy, California is faced with a projected mid-year budget shortfall of $6.3 billion, which means that local governments -- even if they raise school and property taxes -- are going to be cutting support for such essential services as policing, fire fighting, and schools.

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Comments (9)

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Posted by the299crew
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 19, 2010 at 3:23 pm

I have no problem with people avoiding California sales tax via an online purchase.

I guess I see it as equivalent to a homeless person begging on the street for money to buy a sandwich. Sure, you give the guy or gal a few bucks to buy a sandwich and eat. However, when you know the person will be buying cigaretts instead, you avoid giving the handout.

California politicians should spend our tax money more wisely, then maybe the residents will be more willing to send a few bucks to Sacramento.

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Posted by Book Worm
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 19, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Great way to put it the299crew. I couldn't agree with you more.

I go to Kepler's to see which books I want to buy, and then buy them cheaper and tax free on Amazon.

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Posted by SomewhereBetweenClarkAndWorm
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 19, 2010 at 11:07 pm

I'm on the same page as 299 in regards to our 'patriotic duty' to pay taxes... however, I also see a valuable benefit to having local retailers. I would much rather try on a pair of shoes before buying and pay a bit more than go through the hassle of buying multiple pairs online and returning them until I find the right shoe (even if the return shipping is free). I WILL however, ask the local retailer to price match online retailers (incl shipping charges and excluding sales tax). If they cannot come close to matching an online price when the 'match' has shipping and sales tax added, I'll look elsewhere. Very often I'll find a local match that meets those terms... some retailers will not budge from inflated prices, and I will not give them my business. Local retailers can certainly be competitive in pricing, as I sometimes purchase items from Fry's or Microcenter for out of state siblings because the price I can get locally with sales tax and shipping is less than is available anywhere online. If the price is competitive, I place value in local retailers, otherwise I do not... MANY local retailers are just plain not competitive on the pre-sales tax price. Is Keplers willing to match Amazon's price before adding on the sales tax? I'm guessing no.

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Posted by Andrew
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 21, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Couldn't help but notice that when I plugged in my California address for a book purchase on your website, I was charged sales tax. However, if I put my parents' address in a state back east, I was charged no sales tax. Hmm...

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Posted by Pundit
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 21, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Who read's books these days? If anything, buy a kindle. Kepler's needs to get with the times that are a'changin' or disappear like Cody's. Or maybe try some stimulus or bailout money, since it's obliviously a place that's too big to fail.

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Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2010 at 9:21 am

Has anyone bothered to think about WHY online sales arent taxed when comparable brick-and-mortar transactions arent?

If the free market kills a retailer like Keplers, well, thats unfortunate but the reality of a changing world. If special interest lobbying gives one business segment an unfair advantage over another, thats just wrong. The online world is established enough to have to compete for customers on a level playing field.

Pundit, the irony is that its Amazon and friends that is getting the government handout! Maybe you should read a book or two and get up to speed...

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Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on Feb 22, 2010 at 3:00 pm

You're supposed to pay use tax on these purchases when you file your california tax return, but it's really difficult to keep track of unless you record everything in Quicken or you can generate a report from online purchases. I think Amazon should at least provide some easy way to calculate how much use tax one owes.

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Posted by dave
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 23, 2010 at 12:09 am

surprise. the guy saved by handouts expects us to spend more than we need to.

I won't see any of that tax money...not on the level that folks driving 1 year old SUVs with 22" rims do--while they collect payouts and subsidies from the feds, state and local counties.

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Posted by Seth
a resident of Willowgate
on Feb 23, 2010 at 7:54 am


Funny comment. Would you really expect taxpayers to go out of their way to pay taxes on their own for on-line purchases. Meanwhile corporations are hiring pools of lawyers to find ways out of paying taxes?

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