I work for local government in St. Louis, which means my salary is more or less tied to sales tax revenue. And while I know that it is important that people in St. Louis purchase items from their local retailers, I keep buying things online. Today is a good example. I’ve wanted to buy a printer/scanner combo unit for my home computer for awhile now. Last weekend I went browsing at a few local stores to check out prices and styles. Over the last few days I’ve been reading reviews and checking prices online too. I finally decided on a low priced, decent HP model. This unit retailed for $80 at the local stores I visited. With tax, it would be around $86, with about $3 in tax going to local governments.
When I looked up the printer/scanner on Amazon, I discovered it was one of Amazon’s super good deals. Amazon will occasionally have a product for such a low price that they can’t advertise it. They get around it by not listing the price, and saying “price calculated at checkout.” This way they can sell it cheap and not get in trouble for advertising it as such. So, upon checkout the $76 dollar price is discounted by $20 in promotional credits. With Amazon’s free shipping, the final price is $56. That’s a total savings of 35%!!! So in this case, supporting my local community will cost me an extra $30 on this purchase. Not happening!
This is a trend that I see getting much worse in the future. The obvious solution is instituting an internet sales tax, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.