Time To Buy That Camera: Amazon to Start Collecting CA Sales Tax in a Week

If you live in California and have been eyeing some camera gear on Amazon, you might want to bust out your wallet and make the purchase this week. On September 15th, 2012, Amazon will start collecting sales tax for purchases made from California. The tax rate ranges from 7.25% to 9.75% depending on where you live, so the cost difference could be quite significant depending on what you buy. For a $1,500 camera or lens, the tax could be as heavy as $150.

What’s interesting — and what many Californians might not know — is that the tax rate for Amazon purchases isn’t actually changing — only the type of tax is. Californians are already required to pay what’s known as a “use tax” for Amazon purchases, but these taxes are manually paid rather than automatically deducted. The Los Angeles Times writes,

You do know, don’t you, that you already have to pay sales tax on your online purchases? Yes, it’s officially called a “use tax” rather than a sales tax because Amazon is an out-of-state company. But that’s only a technicality. You owe the same tax, whether it’s called a sales tax and your online seller calculates it for you (and adds it to your bill), or it’s a use tax that you have to add up yourself and send in to the Board of Equalization (right away) or the Franchise Tax Board (on your state income tax return at the end of the year).

So even if you hurry up and buy all your stuff now, before Amazon begins adding the tax to your bill, you still have to pay it. You’ve had to pay it all along. Retail sales didn’t magically become tax-free when they moved from Main Street or the mall to the Internet.

Whether due to ignorance or the fact that the California government isn’t very good about policing, it seems that a large portion of Californians don’t pay their use taxes. How do we know this? Because many of them are going on shopping sprees in these last days… just like we recommended in the title of this post.

If you’re a Californian resident, did you know about the use tax law?

(via Doobybrain)

Image credit: 2008 12 26 – Altoona – Onmyodo 2 by thisisbossi

  • bycane

    Does anybody know if B&H or Adorama is going to be doing the same soon (for CA)?

  • Bob

    Califorians are already taxed at one of he highest rates in the US and they’re trying to raise it again! Screw you governor. Unfortnately amazon will loose customers who will seek out other ways to avoid getting screwed. Use Tax, that’s pretty funny.

  • Mansgame

    I have spent thousands of dollars with Amazon over the years but once they started charging sales tax in my state, I have bought a total of $6 from them and that was only to get free shipping. I will not be bullied into buying locally when there is a vendor out of state who does a better job and I will not be bullied into paying an unjust sales tax when Amazon doesn’t have stores in my state (i don’t think a distribution center counts). If amazon would have showed some spine and fought it, I’d support them, but they told me they support the ruling and it seems like they want to do it in every state now so they can deliver faster.

    BH and Newegg will get my money now. And before one of your narcs tells me “you should have paid sales tax regardless”, spare me.

  • EddyMachetty

    Up here in Quebec,Canada we have it pretty bad.. we get taxed 15% ! 1500+15%=1725$

  • Kaitb1103

    PA is starting then as well I think? :(

  • Armando escandalo

    If you will suffer with a 9%~ of taxes, never travel to Chile. The general tax is 19% for everything, and the gasoline tax is about 30% ( total price of almost 7 dollars per gallon). And one more thing, the exange rates used by retail stores is 1 dollar = 1000 clp (2 dollars ) so you can imagine wich is the price of an pro DSLR

  • Peter

    This discussion seems quite alien to me, because in Germany we have to pay 19% tax on almost all purchases (and a reduced tax on some, like food). Taxes are ALLWAYS included in the price of the product though, no matter where or how you buy it.

  • B&HFan

    If that’s how Amazon stores their stock, I’m glad I don’t buy from them.

  • Brian Poulsen

    When it comes to taxes, I think Denmark beats most. We pay 25% VAT and up to 62% income tax. On a car, you pay about 180% tax … But hospitals are free!!!

  • sierrarobba

    Hungarian buyer pay 27% VAT.Beat that!

  • Steve

    All internet stores will need to charge tax for every state in the future. It is just a matter of time. The sooner the better.

  • Pablo

    If you pay 5% sales tax in one state, then bring the product back to your state where there is a 6% sales tax, the use tax is 1%. If it is reversed (pay 6% tax and your state has a 5% tax), you don’t pay a use tax (and don’t get a credit). Sales across state lines (on-line, telephone, mail, etc. ordering), is interstate commerce, on which states cannot impose a sales tax. So the use tax is the gimmick that gets around the interstate commerce bar. The use tax is in the states’ constitution.

  • Michael O’Donnell

    You should have paid sales tax regardless.

  • Pablo

    “Distribution Center” does count. Any physical presence within a legal jurisdiction and the power of the state applies. Your fairy tale (“doesn’t count”) would mean that a Maine resident can commit murder in Florida and Florida shouldn’t be able to apply its laws.

  • Stella

    B & H/Adorama do not have a physical presence in California. No tax will be collected.

  • gber

    If it is like in Texas, you only will be charged tax for items bought actually from Amazon, not from other merchants selling the same item. So look around on Amazon at other vendors.

  • Vinicius Coelho

    Disagree, here in Brazil the taxes are really abusive. For example, a high-end DSLR costs about 2.5x the price in USA. An iPhone costs a equivalent to 1000$. And a 30.000$ Chevrolet Camaro costs 100.000$ here.

  • Matthew

    the taxes you’re so desperately dodging pay for your state’s roads, police, fire, EMS response, etc. There is no free lunch

  • Greg Schmidt

    Good-bye Amazon. I will keep using Adorama, J&R and B&H. Free shipping and NO TAX.