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04-09-2019, 01:20 PM - 1 Like   #1
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So Nice To Be Remembered and Cared About!

I was surprised several days ago to receive a two page letter from a major U.S. online photo retailer informing me that Washington State law requires them to report a summary of my online purchases to Washington State so they would be aware that I owe state "use" tax. They sent me the letter so that I would have an itemized record of when and what. Strangely, they forgot to add shipping (also taxable).

To be honest, getting this notice warmed the cockles of my heart at the notion that they cared so deeply that they were willing to dedicate the cost of postage in the interest of me not being in violation of my state law. On the flip side, I was dismayed that their cross-town competition in New York did not feel such affection and sent me no warning of my debt. The same is true of multiple stores and individuals in such places as Illinois, Georgia, and California. I am dismayed.

I am in a bit of a quandary, however, in that there is penalty for late payment of the tax due no later that the 15th of the month after its first use in my lovely state. If only my friends in New York had been more prompt! I also don't remember for sure where I first used the items: if in the scenic area two block south of me, the tax rate would be 3% higher. I am so confused...

Am I the only one?


Steve

(...for reference...LINK..)


Last edited by stevebrot; 04-09-2019 at 01:39 PM.
04-09-2019, 01:23 PM   #2
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Interesting and amusing.

But I thought shipping was not taxable. That's how those "get this product for free, just pay shipping!" things work -- you don't have to pay sales tax on shipping & handling charges (as long as they are reasonable). But that could be a state-by-state thing too.
04-09-2019, 02:04 PM   #3
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It's enough to make one want to move to Nevada.
04-09-2019, 02:54 PM - 1 Like   #4
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If it is on 'A', as soon as you mount it the aperture should be pushed open to all the way wide. Does it have any trouble doing that off the camera if you fiddle the lever? Got a hitch to it or look bent or leaning any way?

04-09-2019, 02:56 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by grog85361 Quote
It's enough to make one want to move to Nevada.
Don't Nevadites pay state income tax? (Greetings from TX).

Stevebrot, my best guess would be that those other retailers may have collected the Washington state sales tax at time of purchase,
thus no use tax to report. Check your receipts.
04-09-2019, 03:05 PM - 1 Like   #6
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Hi Steve

That was nice of them to inform you of them not wanting to pay the tax for you.


Dave
04-09-2019, 03:18 PM   #7
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That type of stuff is a serous bite on the ass. Taxed to death already and now this? At least you got the heads-up that they will squeeze whatever they can out of you and are ready to pursue you with penalties. And while thinking of all this, when was the last time you got interest back on the refund of your money? GGGrrrrrrrrr
04-09-2019, 03:35 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by clickclick Quote
Taxed to death already
You are not taxed to death, or else you would either not have been able to write your post, or, being dead, would not have cared. FWIW, I am a sole proprietor LLC, with grosses between 50 and 100K a year, but mostly in the 50 range, in case you are wondering.

04-09-2019, 03:36 PM   #9
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To be a little transparent, the sales/use tax thing has a long tradition of the "cat and mouse" type. I live in a border county and most people here do drop over to Oregon for major purchases. It's tradition. A decade or so ago the department of revenue did a series of stings where they positioned undercover state police in the parking lots of big box stores. When they saw a pickup truck load up a new washer/dryer or freezer they would follow them out of the lot and across the bridge to Washington and pull them over to suggest they could be prosecuted for tax evasion and offer to collect the tax on the spot. It did not take long before the standard answer became, "This is for my mother-in-law's house in Gresham, we're taking it back over there tomorrow to drop off and pick up the old one to take to the dump." Short of getting a search warrant, there was no way to prove that "use" tax would be owed.

The newspapers had fun with it.

When I worked in Portland, I would have packages delivered to my place of work.


Steve
04-09-2019, 03:49 PM   #10
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Back on topic...this matter is pertinent to small-time pro and semi-pro photographers. In theory, the state also wants a percentage of the gross (state B&O tax) and all licensed businesses are required to file a revenue statement and write a check. The expense of equipment purchase may be taken as a business expense against that tax and since the "use tax" law exempts equipment used for production of goods that one goes away too.* The rub is that one must file, something about which many photogs conveniently claim ignorance..."Business? What business".

As for my only getting a statement from one online store (we know which one), the others sold to me tax free, but have chosen to ignore the Washington law, hence forcing the state to eventually file suit and subpoena purchase records to prove applicability of the law. The store protests citing privacy laws for customers and the Washington revenuers back off.


Steve

* Assuming the state recognizes sold prints and CDs as manufactured goods.

Last edited by stevebrot; 04-09-2019 at 03:55 PM.
04-09-2019, 03:49 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by tvdtvdtvd Quote
Don't Nevadites pay state income tax? (Greetings from TX).
Nope! (I lived there for 15 years) The state lives off of all the gamblers - who in the long run, don't win (and pay taxes via casino take)!

However, they do pay sales tax, which is what this is all about.

And, I know for sure, that Maryland wanted sales tax on shipping costs - at least when I lived there in the 80s. I once grumped to NatGeo about this, and they told me so!

Last edited by AstroDave; 04-09-2019 at 03:58 PM. Reason: fix some tenses!
04-09-2019, 05:28 PM - 1 Like   #12
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Tell them your real name is stevebrot inc, and you're a corporation and not a person since they seem to not have any obligations to pay taxes.
04-09-2019, 07:29 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Back on topic...this matter is pertinent to small-time pro and semi-pro photographers. In theory, the state also wants a percentage of the gross (state B&O tax) and all licensed businesses are required to file a revenue statement and write a check. The expense of equipment purchase may be taken as a business expense against that tax and since the "use tax" law exempts equipment used for production of goods that one goes away too.* The rub is that one must file, something about which many photogs conveniently claim ignorance..."Business? What business".

As for my only getting a statement from one online store (we know which one), the others sold to me tax free, but have chosen to ignore the Washington law, hence forcing the state to eventually file suit and subpoena purchase records to prove applicability of the law. The store protests citing privacy laws for customers and the Washington revenuers back off.


Steve

* Assuming the state recognizes sold prints and CDs as manufactured goods.
You're in business or you aren't. Do everything on the table, nothing under the table and no worries. Same as you should treat customers. Same as you want to be treated.
04-09-2019, 08:01 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Brooke Meyer Quote
You're in business or you aren't. Do everything on the table, nothing under the table and no worries. Same as you should treat customers. Same as you want to be treated.
Ha! Ha! No, I have never sold a photo, but I have run my own business and conducted it as you suggested. That being said, my comment was in regards to an online retailer complying with a "tattler" law imposed by a state with no jurisdiction to compel reporting of customer order activity that may or may not have been on taxable goods.

What is probably a greater irony is that the online store did not fully comply with the law. They are required to boldly display that the Washington use tax may apply and that the store will release purchase information to Washington to assist them in tax collection. This is to be displayed before order confirmation, included in all communication regarding the order, and on any receipts or invoices sent. None of that was done.

I do know that if such a warning was displayed during checkout, I would likely have abandoned the cart and possibly ordered the same items from Amazon where the appropriate tax (state and local) is assessed at checkout with no drama or threat of release of purchase information to a third party.


Steve
04-09-2019, 11:21 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Ha! Ha! No, I have never sold a photo, but I have run my own business and conducted it as you suggested. That being said, my comment was in regards to an online retailer complying with a "tattler" law imposed by a state with no jurisdiction to compel reporting of customer order activity that may or may not have been on taxable goods.

What is probably a greater irony is that the online store did not fully comply with the law. They are required to boldly display that the Washington use tax may apply and that the store will release purchase information to Washington to assist them in tax collection. This is to be displayed before order confirmation, included in all communication regarding the order, and on any receipts or invoices sent. None of that was done.

I do know that if such a warning was displayed during checkout, I would likely have abandoned the cart and possibly ordered the same items from Amazon where the appropriate tax (state and local) is assessed at checkout with no drama or threat of release of purchase information to a third party.


Steve
So if you pay WA Use Tax, the reseller lack of compliance is moot.
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