Shoppers say “No” to Amazon sales tax

Posted at 10:36 PM, Jul 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-20 22:36:58-04

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Many Amazon shoppers are not thrilled at the prospect of paying sales tax on their online purchases.

More than 30 Amazon customers wrote into CNNMoney to give their thoughts about the e-tailer’s plans to collect sales tax in eight additional states, including California, starting in September. Amazon already does so in six states.

While this is by no means a scientific study, it does show that there are plenty of people who aren’t pleased.

“If you take away my *only* reason for shopping at Amazon, what do you think is going to happen to myself and millions of others?” writes Roger of Petaluma, Calif. “Let’s put it this way: If you own Amazon stock, SELL, SELL, SELL!!!”

Amazon, which has long opposed collecting sales taxes until a national uniform standard is passed, has been changing its tune lately.

The shift coincides with efforts to expand its physical presence across the United States, building warehouses and distribution centers. The company is looking to offer same-day delivery to more customers, according to a report in the Financial Times. Amazon declined to comment on the matter.

In exchange for bringing thousands of jobs to various states, the company is negotiating delays in collecting sales tax in those locations unless federal legislation is enacted sooner. A bill to require remote retailers to collect sales tax is working its way through Congress.

Some customers told CNNMoney that Amazon’s decision will drive them to shop at other online merchants that don’t charge taxes.

Robert of Redlands, Calif., says he shops on Amazon up to five times a week, buying anything from coffee to detergent to camera lenses. But once the company starts collecting tax in the Golden State, Robert will switch to other online retailers that don’t charge taxes.

“It’s not like they ALL charge sales tax now,” he said. “Many of the sellers on Amazon have their own shops.”

Local merchants may get a boost once the sales tax requirement kicks in. That’s where Todd of San Diego plans to go.

“If [I] buy from local stores, I can get the products I want immediately, with no shipping delay, and skip the shipping costs,” said Todd, noting that he’s bought lots of unnecessary things over the years to qualify for Amazon’s free shipping threshold.

“Amazon will cease to have an advantage for me,” he said.

Several readers said they will curtail their Amazon purchases not because they can’t afford the extra few bucks — as much as $9.75 on a $100 purchase in some California locales — but because they don’t want to give state governments more money.

“We are already taxed way too much in the U.S. and this just adds insult to injury,” said Mitch of The Woodlands, Texas, where Amazon began collecting sales tax this month.

To be sure, not everyone opposes paying tax on their Amazon purchases.

Though Mary of Maple Grove, Minn., won’t be affected at this point, she said she’d continue to shop at Amazon even if she were charged sales tax.

“It is so convenient and I spend less shopping online than if I walk into a Target to get essentials,” she said. “In the long run, [I] save time and money.”