Poll: Amazon.com Sales Tax Begins Saturday; Should Solano County Residents Pay?

The online retailer will levy state tax on mail-order purchases beginning Sept. 15. Are you going on a shopping spree before then, or are you happy to see the change?

If you've got items sitting in your Amazon shopping cart that you've not yet purchased, you might want to consider moving into the checkout line.

Friday is the last day for Benicia residents, or anyone else in California, to buy from the online retailer tax-free: Amazon will begin charging sales tax on purchases for California residents this Saturday. Sales tax in Solano County varies little.  All the cities have a 7.375 percent sales tax except Vallejo which has an 8.375 percent rate. 

Up to now, buying online at Amazon.com saved customers money, since no sales tax was collected.

But state lawmakers in California–a state which desperately needs cash–reached an agreement last year with online retailers, including Amazon, who agreed to begin collecting a sales tax in September. Those sale tax funds will be returned to the state.

According to the LA Times, about half of the projected $316 million raised in the first full year–and put into state coffers–is expected to come from merchandise sold by Amazon.

The agreement between Amazon and California may not last long. The Orange County Register reports that the agreement between the two parties was primarily a compromise meant to get a year's reprieve in collecting the tax in exchange for promises to add jobs and distribution centers in California.

Increased prices for online purchases is welcome relief for brick-and-mortar stores, who feel the playing field for customers will be a bit more level.

CNNMoney says Amazon already charges sales tax in six states: Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Washington. Pennsylvania will join California in sales tax charges in September. New Jersey, Virginia, Indiana, Nevada, Tennessee and South Carolina are all expected to collect state sales taxes from online retailers within the next few years, adding millions to state accounts.

States estimate they lose $23 billion in annual sales taxes, some $11.5 billion of it from online purchases, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Meanwhile, Seattle-based Amazon has been expanding its physical presence in California, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The Chronicle says that in June, it leased 83,000 square feet just south of San Francisco's Financial District, and is close to signing a deal for 600,000 square feet in Sunnyvale.

Amazon is also expected to open two California fulfillment centers that will employ at least 1,000 workers each in San Bernardino and Patterson.

If you're interested in applying for those jobs, Amazon has set up a website to receive applications.

Do you think paying sales tax on Amazon.com is fair? Will it affect your shopping habits? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Scott Burford September 14, 2012 at 03:21 AM
Joe, we agree on something!
Robert Livesay September 14, 2012 at 02:00 PM
I also say the same thing Joe. Good comment.
Lighthouse September 14, 2012 at 02:07 PM
The short sighted will complain about paying the tax as local stores continue to struggle to compete with Amazon. This gives your neighborhood business a fighting chance. Git off your rear, take a walk and buy local whenever possible!
Stephanie September 14, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Very well said, Lighthouse!! :)
Stan Houston September 14, 2012 at 04:15 PM
I can't begin to count the number of customers who over the years looked me in the face and said "thanks for the information (about the product) I'm going to order it over the internet". For many years brick and mortars have unwittingly played the roll of 'showroom'. Customers come in, inquire about product choices, performance, and what we think is the best choice for their use and then turn to their smart phone, google the item and place an order with Amazon. Some do it while standing in our store. This is a small but significant move in the right direction for all retailers - not just small ones; Target and Macy's have long fought this battle. Until the consumer makes an effort to differentiate the difference between price and cost, brick and mortars will face a continuing battle with internet retailing.


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