What to Buy Before the New Online Sales Tax Is Enforced

Written By Jeff Hindenach
Last updated June 13, 2018

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Money Saving Tips
May 6, 2016

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Right now, many online purchases are sales tax free for many shoppers in most states, making bigger ticket items cheaper to buy online. But starting tomorrow, the Senate will begin to debate a proposed law that would require online retailers to charge the appropriate sales tax on purchases that are ordered from the 45 states that currently have a sales tax. Sadly, it looks like the law is likely to pass, although the earliest it would go into effect would be Oct. 1, 2013.

What does that mean for us as consumers? It means we’ll need to start paying sales tax on many things that we order online. Some states, like California, already require this for certain sites like Amazon, but for most people, this means paying sales tax for online purchases that they didn’t have to pay before. So, we think, before the law passes, it is a great idea to order any of those big ticket items that you’ve been thinking about before you end up paying hundreds of dollars in online sales tax. Here are a few suggestions:

Electronics that will cost you thousands of dollars as opposed to hundreds of dollars are the best thing to buy before the new online sales tax goes into effect. Say you want to buy a nice flat-screen TV that costs $2,000 from Amazon.com and you live in Alabama. Now, you pay nothing, since Amazon only charges an online sales tax in Arizona, California, Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington. If the law passes, you would be paying an extra $160.60 for the TV. That’s the complete series of Gilmore Girls that you now can’t watch on your new flat screen TV.

If you typically buy, say, diapers or cleaning supplies or other mundane, non-perishable life purchases online, it might be a good idea to do a bulk purchase of those products before the new online sales tax becomes law. This would be especially helpful if you live in a state like Tennessee, which has a 9.44% sales tax. While that is a high sales tax to pay no matter what, it is even worse if you are constantly paying it on items that you need to order over and over again. If you order your basic needs in bulk, you can avoid a year or two of paying a huge sales tax on everyday items.

In the same vein as the big ticket electronics, any kind of furniture or other items that will cost a pretty penny would be good to buy before the new online sales tax happens. If you want to buy a beautiful Sealy posturepedic mattress for $3,500 from Overstock.com and live in New York, right now you pay nothing in sales tax. If the law passes, you will then pay an extra $300. So buy that DreamCloud mattress and furniture now before you end up paying hundreds of extra dollars on your big ticket purchases.

About the Author

Jeff Hindenach

Jeff Hindenach is the co-founder of Simple. Thrifty. Living. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He has a long history of financial journalism, with a background writing for newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Examiner, as well as writing on personal finance for The Huffington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, Newsday and The Street. He believes in giving readers the tools they need to get out of debt.

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