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Businesses Government The Almighty Buck

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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  • Re:Outrage! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 04, 2012 @08:16PM (#41875911)

    Yes I am complaining about paying taxes in California. We used to be able to build roads and school our children on a 6% sales tax. California employees were allowed to unionize under Jerry Brown and since then there has been a steady drumbeat of tax increases to keep California government growing and public employees living large. In a few years we will have 20,000+ California retirees living like lottery winners with 100k+ pensions (with automatic inflation increases) and lifetime gold plated health benefits. California has net 200,000+ citizens moving out of our state a year because of the poor business environment and economy relative to other states. They are never satisfied with several ballot measures this election asking for more and higher taxes in the name of "education" when in reality it is about shoring up the pension funds.

  • by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <> on Sunday November 04, 2012 @08:24PM (#41875985) Homepage

    And now you see why small businesses don't like to have to collect taxes for hundreds of different taxing jurisdictions.

    Most small businesses don't. They collect sales taxes in the jurisdiction where they are located. If I (in Maryland) sell you something by mail, I collect tax if you're in Maryland, or no tax if you're not. You might owe use tax, but that's Not My Problem.

    In New York, where it's a destination tax, a merchant located there has to collect for a few dozen jurisdictions -- a pain, but far from "thousands".

    It's a problem for too-big businesses such as Amazon that have "nexuses" of business all over the place; screw them, companies shouldn't be that big.

    But it can be a problem for small companies that provide a venue for merchants in many different locations.

  • Re:Buy Amazon Prime. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Relayman ( 1068986 ) on Sunday November 04, 2012 @09:44PM (#41876445)
    The merchant is required by law to account for all money collected as sales tax separately from the amount of the sale and to remit all sales tax collected to the state. If the merchant collects less than is required based on the sales, then the merchant has to make up the difference. To not remit all money collected as sales tax to the state is illegal.

    It's possible that North Carolina is different than the Midwestern states which I'm familiar with, but I doubt it.
  • Re:Buy Amazon Prime. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ottothecow ( 600101 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:02AM (#41877211) Homepage
    and what would they do with that money? Spend it on entertainment?

    There is some very good television out there and the fact that they are watching it on Prime instead of live makes me think they aren't watching Honey Boo Boo. Nothing wrong with opting for leisure (and maybe opening up discussion topics) over spending every waking hour trying to make money.

    Would it be a problem if they spent that same time playing WoW or reading a book?

  • by Fjandr ( 66656 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @01:53AM (#41877661) Homepage Journal

    How about they do their job and regulate interstate commerce?

    The apply the Commerce Clause to everything under the sun, but when it comes to normalizing trade between the States they have basically remained quiet. Of course, what that means is that there should be no taxes charged by any State on goods arriving from outside their borders. Aggressive jurisdictions, like California and New York, have taken it upon themselves to exceed their authority, and all it would take is a simple clarifying act for Congress to settle the issue.

    Of course, that can only happen in a country that isn't broken. Since the US is not such a country, don't expect a simple, straightforward Act to pass settling the issue. When they finally decide to do something, it will be so incomprehensibly Byzantine that tax lawyers everywhere will simultaneously jizz themselves.

  • Re:Buy Amazon Prime. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Miamicanes ( 730264 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @03:47AM (#41878127)

    The existence of Prime shipping is a game-changer to someone who lives in a place that gets hurricanes, because it enables you to buy things with overnight or 2-day shipping that would be cost-prohibitive to buy from them if you had to actually pay full price for that shipping. I don't even bother fighting the zoo at Home Depot, Target, or Sam's Club anymore before hurricanes... I just buy everything from Amazon, and come home from work to a pile of hurricane supplies waiting on my front doorstep the next day, a few hours before the hurricane makes landfall. Prime shipping is the whole reason why I now buy things like cat food, batteries, and lawnmower parts from Amazon, as opposed to books. Even places that offer free shipping can't compete, because THEY only offer free GROUND shipping, and if you want it upgraded to 2-day or next-day, you get hit with the full cost. With Amazon, 2-day is free, and overnight is only a few dollars more.

    I just wish Amazon had a search option for "Only show me items that can be shipped in time to receive tomorrow". If there's any consistent logic to their cutoff times for same-day shipping, I have yet to figure out what it is. Sometimes it seems to be as late as 8:30pm, sometimes it seems to be 4pm, and it doesn't just seem to vary by warehouse... it literally seems to be a matter of blind, random good or bad luck that changes daily with no apparent rhyme or reason. Saturday and Sunday delivery are even more randomly variable. Few things are more frustrating than trying to do last-minute birthday present shopping on Friday as the deadlines are ticking away, and you can't even figure out what the deadlines ARE without clicking on the item and scrolling down. I swear to god, I'm going to write a program to do brute-force scraped-searches on Amazon called "OnlyTomorrow" that spoofs a browser, executes your search, then fetches the items and brute-force eliminates any that can't ship in time or that don't literally include the requested keywords in the title/description (my other pet peeve about Amazon... sometimes, its signal-to-noise ratio for searches is just horrendous, and the SNR seems to be the absolute WORST when you're panic-buying and desperately trying to beat the same-day shipping deadline).

  • Re:Buy Amazon Prime. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @04:14AM (#41878209) Homepage

    At the end of your live, when you're on you deathbed and ready to breath your final breath, do you regret not working more or do you regret not taking more time off?

The absence of labels [in ECL] is probably a good thing. -- T. Cheatham