Would you still buy textbooks on Amazon if you had to pay sales tax?
That’s a question many students will be asking themselves as Congress debates extending the sales tax for some Internet shopping.
Of course, sales tax is already collected for certain online purchases. For example, if a business has a physical presence in a state — a distribution center or storefront — it must collect state and local taxes from its customers, even if the purchases were made online. However, Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon do not have a state sales tax, so those customers don’t have to pay taxes for online purchases regardless.
If Congress passes a federal online sales tax, even those customers in states without sales tax will have to pay more for online purchases.
For Meg Cornaghie, a sophomore at Rice University in Houston, taxes for online purchases would make her shop online less.
“I order all of my textbooks from Amazon,” Cornaghie said. “I might try to get them from other students if I had to pay taxes.”
Cornaghie also shops online about once or twice a month for clothes, and said she might decrease her online clothes purchases as well if she had to pay taxes.
“It’s nice that you don’t have to pay taxes since you have to pay shipping,” she added.
However, Kaht Smith, a junior at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, said that she would still shop online if she had to pay more.
“I have bought some textbooks from Amazon, but no other books,” Smith said. “I would still buy textbooks on Amazon if I had to pay taxes.”
Besides textbooks, Smith said that she rarely makes purchases online, and usually buys something online about once every two months.
On the other hand, for Emily Holliday, a junior at the University of Memphis, a sales tax on online purchases would make renting ebooks on her computer less worthwhile.
“They delete themselves from my computer so I wouldn’t like paying taxes on something I can’t keep,” Holliday said.
Even ebooks might be subject to state or federal taxes as governments look for more ways to increase revenue as the U.S. continues to climb out of the recession.
Students, prepare: Buying solid books, ebooks or anything online could get more expensive soon.
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