questionsdoes amazon.com get an unfair advantage by not…

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Amazon does charge tax...
"Items sold by Amazon.com LLC, or its subsidiaries, and shipped to destinations in the states of Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Dakota, or Washington are subject to tax."

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NO - Any retailer who does not have a physical presence in a particular state or unless the state has a specific law can the sales tax be charged. In Florida, the customer is supposed to file a form paying a "use" tax.

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There's the matter of shipping. It's not always free.
You could also make the argument that sales tax is the premium you pay for having the item immediately.

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@jsoko: they will also start charging in California in 2012, September i think.

do you all consider sales tax when deciding to make a purchase? for example, when considering buying online vs walking into a physical store to buy it? or, would not having to pay a sales tax convince you to buy online instead of in-store?

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I live in Washington and have paid tax on Amazon purchases forever. I also get to pay tax on my woot addiction. So, the item's price plus shipping are what I base a deal on.

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@w00tgurl: Generally, if I don't need it right now then I'll buy online. The odds of it being cheaper in a store are so slim I usually don't even check. WalMart has a lot of overhead that Amazon doesn't, and that's included in their price.

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Of course there's an advantage - we all like to save money.

That said, for me, the bigger aspect is the convenience factor. There are times in which the local Fry's Electronics has something cheaper than Newegg, and Amazon cheaper than both, but I'll still buy from Newegg because I can buy it sitting on my couch and have it the next day (because they're like 15 miles away) instead of having to go to the store or waiting a week for it.

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You might as well ask if it's dark out at night. Well yeah, there's lights everywhere in the city, and true, if the moon is full, you can see all right. You might even have a torch, and that thing makes it awful bright around you, so for all intents and purposes the night is no darker than the day.

But yes, Amazon has a significant and unfair advantage in that the greater majority of its customers don't have to pay sales tax. This has been a legislative issue for years now.

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You only don't have to pay the sales tax at the time of purchase. You're supposed to claim all online purchases for which there was no sales tax when filing.

Overall it seems to me that Amazon's advantage comes from not having the overhead costs of storefronts.

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Amazon does charge sales tax, where they are required by state law to do so, just as the various brick & mortar stores that charge salestax are required to do by the states in which they operate.

Fairness really doesn't come into it. It is neither fair nor unfair. It is the way it is.

If a given brick & mortar store has a problem with Amazon not being required to charge salestax in their state, then that b&m should take it up with their state legislature. How is it Amazon's fault that NJ (for example) does not require Amazon to collect (and forward to NJ) salestax on items sold to NJ?

BTW- in NY State, people are required to pay (to NY State) a use tax on items purchased out of state for which no salestax was collected. For me thus far, the "suggested amounts" have been less than what I would have paid if I actually had to pay salestax, so I'm not complaining.

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I know that a lot of people go to amazon for the tax break. California passed regulations this year regarding Amazon and others. Starting in the next couple years Amazon and others will have to start charging sales tax.

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@baqui63: Advantages don't necessarily have fault attached to them. They are sometimes, as you say, as they are. However, though the situation was perhaps simply initially in favor of Amazon, they have since spent a significant amount of resources in keeping the status quo. Amazon knows that a portion of their sales will divert elsewhere if they have to charge sales tax in all states, and they know it's in their best interest not to allow that to happen.

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I guess a little, but man Amazon has a lot of advantages that are way more important than 'no tax.' Start with 'massive distribution,' and 'no retail overhead to speak of.'