Damn. I knew they'd catch up with us sooner or later. For years, New York State has tried to get us to pony up nonexistent sales tax for stuff we buy online. There's a line in the tax return that asks you to estimate the total amount of "unpaid" sales tax for anything and everything you've bought out of state that you have in your possession here. From the first year they put this in the tax form, I momentarily fretted over it, before chuckling and ignoring it, which I've done every year since. Chuckling to oneself is good for you!
So now comes the news that the State has passed a law forcing online retailers to charge sales tax on every NY-based purchase, even if they don't have a physical presence here. This totally defeats the purpose of buying stuff online, except for the fact that stuff gets delivered right to your house/office. The whole driving factor behind mail-order has always been getting the best possible price. At a certain price break, it's usually worth it to buy online, even if you pay for shipping.
Anyway, the Times says that only 2 of the most popular retailers have not already registered in New York to charge this "use tax" (WTF?) One is Amazon.com, as we all know they don't have any brick and mortar stores here. Duh. Although some of their Marketplace sellers probably do. Whatever, I guess it's back to the used book store for me.
More disturbing for me is the news that the only other unregistered retailer in the Top 10 is Newegg.com. This is a fine electronics vendor from which I have purchased pretty much every computer-related tool in the past few years. Part of their appeal is that they have very good customer reviews/ratings of every product. Also their prices were routinely the lowest around. Best of all, they're based in Jersey, so I would get stuff in like a day.
Now everything will suck. Buying from Amazon or Newegg will be like buying stuff in a regular store, but with shipping costs on top. Yay. Something about this whole thing strikes me as unjust. Why should New York state get to benefit from these sales? I don't know much about interstate commerce, but I'm not fully confident in New York's sovereignty in this arena. They can't even get the damn subways to run right fer chrissakes!
Oh well, I just hope the Calypso Discount Store down the street from me has a good price on USB flash drives.