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Amazon Charges Sales Tax On "Shipping and Handling" 330

You may have noticed that retailers like Amazon are charging tax, in compliance with state laws, on not just the price of goods, but on the "shipping and handling" fees they charge. An anonymous reader writes "By coincidence I noticed this myself the other night, and ended up ordering something from a supplier in Arizona, rather than Amazon, to avoid the sales tax. Now here is an article about it in the Los Angeles Times."
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Amazon Charges Sales Tax On "Shipping and Handling"

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  • Outrage! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by White Flame ( 1074973 ) on Sunday November 04, 2012 @07:32PM (#41875569)

    After all the outrage in the Apple tax thread, everyone should stand for paying their fair share of sales taxes, not dodging them by ordering out of state from somebody they normally wouldn't.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 04, 2012 @07:38PM (#41875627)

    Yes, continue to support a company that has shown it will gouge you all it can. Brilliant plan.

  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Sunday November 04, 2012 @07:42PM (#41875655)

    $80 a year for "free" books and streaming media and 2 day shipping is gouging?

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Sunday November 04, 2012 @07:53PM (#41875735)

    And now you see why small businesses don't like to have to collect taxes for hundreds of different taxing jurisdictions. When they aren't located there, are much smaller than Amazon and can't afford a tax compliance department staffed with accountants and lawyers. Yeah sure, you could do business as a 'associate' of Amazon and have them handle tax compliance for you. But now you're their bitch and they can dictate other aspects of your online existence.

    Wave good by to innovation.

  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Sunday November 04, 2012 @08:03PM (#41875803)
    Was the handling charge really for handling or is it a euphemism for our markup after costs? In other words is part of the price being hidden/embedded in the handling charge? *If* so there may be some justification for including handling in the taxable portion of the bill.
  • by neo8750 ( 566137 ) < minus distro> on Sunday November 04, 2012 @08:19PM (#41875943) Homepage
    Way i see it is netflix is 8 bucks a month 8*12 = 96. Where with amazon prime its 80 and i get free shipping on my amazon purchases.
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Sunday November 04, 2012 @08:51PM (#41876153) Homepage

    But if you dont do it the y PUNISH you by delaying when your package ships. I have had orders sit unshipped for 5 days with them, when I ask about it I was told that "to avoid this get a prime membership"

  • by Tokolosh ( 1256448 ) on Sunday November 04, 2012 @09:07PM (#41876237)

    Amazon loves this complicated and convoluted system - it raises the barriers to entry of competition.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 04, 2012 @09:08PM (#41876245)

    It's not punishing, it's exactly what they told you they would do. If you choose free shipping, they say your stuff will be delivered in 5 to 8 business days. Given the abundance of their warehouses and ridiculously low shipping times, you should have received your order within 8 business days, so, they were within their right to delay your order to get more profitable (paid shipping and prime) orders out of door first. If you didn't get it on time, that's a different story.

  • Re:Outrage! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Sunday November 04, 2012 @09:17PM (#41876283) Homepage Journal

    Because the sales tax on S&H for a $9.99 dvd is morally and ethically the same as pre-tax profits of $36.8 billion

    Sure it is. What's the difference? One number is much bigger than the other, but the difference in tax amounts is similarly different... and the *aggregate* of all the S&H fees on all the DVDs is probably not so much different in scale than the Apple number. So, what's the difference?

  • by meerling ( 1487879 ) on Sunday November 04, 2012 @10:13PM (#41876613)
    The company that is gouging you for the sales tax is California. Amazon fought the sales tax for online purchases for years, it's over, by law they have to charge you. Sucks, doesn't it, but don't worry, there are other reasons you can still use to complain about Amazon with. :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 04, 2012 @10:33PM (#41876729)

    FALSE. Or at least potentially false. All California sales tax paid by Amazon will be directed to Patterson and San Bernardino where Amazon is building warehouses. These cities are/were planning to rebate 75%-80% of the sales back to Amazon.

    From the LA Times:

    "San Bernardino and Patterson, where the centers will be located, will gain not only jobs but also a tax bonanza: Sales to Amazon customers throughout California will be deemed to take place there, so all the sales tax earmarked for local government operations will go to those two cities....

    [Patterson] City Manager Rod Butler said the city is considering rebating as much as 75% of its share of sales-tax revenues to Amazon. He reasons that even a reduced share of those taxes would enable the city to balance its budget and pay for city parks, streets and garbage collection....

    San Bernardino, meanwhile, is working on an agreement with Amazon that would give the retailer as much as 80% of its share of sales taxes in the first few years, according to city spokesman Jim Morris."

    California lawmakers have ensured that Californians pay more for everything on Amazon, and that Amazon gets to keep the money as extra profit. Can't legislators just leave us alone? :P


  • by Joe Tie. ( 567096 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:07AM (#41877239)
    I work in order to have time for leisure. In all seriousness, if you took the time I spent relaxing after work and made me work a second job? I'd prefer to be dead. That's not life, that's slavery.
  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @02:49AM (#41877907)

    Two day shipping is a convenience, but not worth it to a lot of people. It is for me, even if I opt for standard shipping,

    You're forgetting the important part: not only is it 2 day shipping, but it's also "free"; as in, no cost other than the cost of the prime membership for prime eligible items.

    As long as you would normally make 12 orders a year from Amazon, with approximately $7.00 regular shipping per order (approximately 1 order a month); then Prime is a good economic choice.

    More so, if you regularly paid extra per order for expedited shipping. More so if you have sales taxes in there.

  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @05:07AM (#41878391)

    Exactly. Instead of shopping online at Amazon (where the supplier of the Amazon-fulfilled shipment is often a small business or mom and pop), make sure to shop locally, at mom and pop shops that still exist, like Walmart, Best Buy, or Target.

  • by sglewis100 ( 916818 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @11:23AM (#41880697)

    I like prime myself, I shop a lot online. But for a lot of people it is price gouging. The free books and streaming media collection suck, they are worthless. Two day shipping is a convenience, but not worth it to a lot of people. It is for me, even if I opt for standard shipping, Amazon ships though OnTrac, which is usually 1 day shipping.

    That's not price gouging. That's something that is for some people and not for others. To me, the streaming is as good as Netflix for my kids. I buy enough that the shipping is a great deal for me. But it's not "price gouging" [].

    Considering Amazon's normal two-day rates [] which are in the $6 to $12 range typically, if you want fast shipping and buy half a dozen items a year, it's a good deal at $80 even if you never stream any video.

    If you pay $80 and buy one thing, once, that's not price gouging, that's you buying something you didn't need.

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban