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Poll: Amazon.com Sales Tax Begins Saturday; Should We Have to 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 to buy from the online retailer tax-free: Amazon will begin charging sales tax on purchases for California residents this Saturday. Sales tax rates in Marin vary slightly but nearly all towns and cities have an 8 percent sales tax rate. In Novato and San Rafael have additional local sales taxes that push their rates to 8.5 percent. Check out all the rates by clicking here.

Until 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 Los Angeles 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 newspaper reported that Amazon leased 83,000 square feet just south of San Francisco's Financial District in June 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.

janna nikkola September 15, 2012 at 03:46 PM
I'm not crazy about having to pay the 8.5% sales tax for Amazon sales in Novato -- but I'm also not so crazy about the local book stores that have closed because they were unable to compete with Amazon. In Novato we lost Crown Books some years ago and lost Border's in San Rafael. Given the choice, I'd rather have actual brick and mortar retail stores in our communities, so it's only right for Amazon to have to charge the same sales tax that retail stores are required to charge to keep a level playing field.
Anne Tique September 15, 2012 at 04:14 PM
My only misgiving is that this may afford the state of California more revenue to waste.
Marlo Maria September 15, 2012 at 11:58 PM
I was not an Amazon customer before, but with the sales tax, I shall now be an avid one. It's about time.
Nicholas Littlejohn September 19, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Awesome! Yes, people should consume less and pay local taxes when they are buying things. I'm amazed it took this long to close the loophole. This may also mean fewer loud and polluting diesel delivery trucks in our neighborhoods.
Uncle Fishbits September 20, 2012 at 05:21 PM
lol at the idea that we shouldn't pay what we should honestly pay. where is the entitlement from. I didn't read any "no" responses above, so no offense... i just don't get where that mindset comes from.

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