Local taxes in the USA - tourist regulations

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Derek Fountain, Feb 21, 2005.

  1. I'll be visiting the USA in 2 months time and will be buying 2 or 3 decent
    lenses - the low US$ is a great thing for some of us. :eek:)

    I was after a little guidance on the issue of local taxes, particularly in
    California, where I'm likely to do the shopping. Are there taxes applied to
    camera kit that a tourist can get avoid/get back if he follows certain
    rules or produces certain documents are the airport when he leaves?
    Derek Fountain, Feb 21, 2005
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  2. Local sales tax in the US, unlike VAT in many EU countries, is State
    based so it is not exactly the same from state to state and some states have
    none at all. It can even have different rates in different cities.

    It is fundamentally different in that it is a (retail) sales tax so it
    attaches at the time of the sale and is based on the sale. In general it
    will not be attached to sales to out of the US. However to qualify you
    generally have to have the product shipped out of the US and can not take
    delivery in the US. Some states also have a use tax, but that should not
    generally apply to you as it applies to new property brought in or shipped
    into the state for use in that state.

    I don't have the specifics of the California tax, but I suspect you can
    find information on the state web site.
    Joseph Meehan, Feb 21, 2005
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  3. Derek Fountain

    cluedweasel Guest

    Most states aren't geared up for the refund of sales tax to non
    residents at all. If you are going to buy in California then you are
    probably going to have to pay the sales tax. Some states, Oregon comes
    to mind, don't have any sales tax. You won't find any booths at the
    airports for the refund of sales tax like the VAT refund in the U.K.
    cluedweasel, Feb 21, 2005
  4. Derek Fountain

    C Wright Guest

    The following web site lists the tax rates in all US States:
    Specifically, on their the home page, click on the third item listed under
    the Sales Taxes. California, for example, has a state sales tax of 6% and
    local jurisdictions can add up to another 2.75%. So the maximum sales tax
    that you would find in California would be 8.75%. As stated above if you
    are physically in a state (even if you don't live there) and take physical
    possession of the purchased item in that state you have to pay the sales
    C Wright, Feb 21, 2005
  5. Derek Fountain

    Ron Hunter Guest

    Yes. If you buy at a 'duty free' shop in an airport, you can save the
    state tax, and I believe, the federal excise tax. You may find this
    limits your choice of cameras, however.
    Ron Hunter, Feb 21, 2005
  6. Derek Fountain

    PTRAVEL Guest

    No states in the US refund taxes to out-of-country residents. However, you
    can avoid state taxes by having the camera shipped to a different state,
    e.g. if you're going to visit New York and California, buy the camera in New
    York and have it shipped to your hotel in California. I don't know for
    certain whether this will work if you have the camera shipped out of the US.
    However, if you take possession of the camera, you'll have to pay the going
    state and municipal tax. Depending on where your are in California, it can
    approach 9%.
    PTRAVEL, Feb 21, 2005
  7. Derek Fountain

    Charlie Self Guest

    And he'll find that state sales taxes are not totally state based.
    Localities are allowed to add their own little riders--in CA, sales
    taxes range from 7-1/4% to 8-3/4%.
    Charlie Self, Feb 21, 2005
  8. Short answer: No.

    Long answer: You're not paying a Value Added Tax, you're paying a local
    sales tax. Even if the United States was as generous to refund a
    portion of your taxes paid as a tourist, the US Customs Service, a
    Federal agency, would have no authority or means to do so.
    Brian C. Baird, Feb 21, 2005
  9. I don't know any reputable dealer that would ship to an unverified
    address like a hotel - especially if you're paying by credit card.
    Brian C. Baird, Feb 21, 2005
  10. Derek Fountain

    Larry Guest

    I didn't see the original post here, but Ill jump in anyway.

    In the States that have sales tax, you pay the tax. Residency doesn't
    matter, location does. If you are IN the state and make the purchase, you
    pay the tax.

    This is so in every state I have done transactions in (about 12 California
    among them) that collect a sales tax.

    I happen to live in Connecticut (for you geographicly challenged, near New
    York on the right hand side, up near the top of the states).

    Rhode Island is a neighboring state and it doesn't tax some items as high as
    Connecticut does.. A twenty minute ride for me to get to Rhode Island, where
    I could save BIG BUCKS on some items.. nifty huh??? Not quite. It is
    illegal for me to do it and if I get caught doing it I can be incarcerated,
    for up 15 years (tax evasion).

    California has a similar law on the books. I haven't been there recently, so
    I dont know if they do much to enforce it as Connecticut does.

    TRUST ME, the States are SERIOUS about collecting their sales tax, and MOST
    of them will only relent if you are a licensed dealer, buying for re-sale.
    Larry, Feb 21, 2005
  11. Derek Fountain

    Joel Dorfan Guest

    What I did was order from a store in say NY for delivery in another state
    say NJ. If you order from out of state then there is no tax payable.

    Well in my case anyway this is what happened.
    Joel Dorfan, Feb 21, 2005
  12. Derek Fountain

    Larry Guest

    AND, it severly limits the likelyhood of finding a bargain. Since most stuff
    sold at Airports in the US usually is sold for 50 to 65% ABOVE normal retail
    (or even higher).

    This MIGHT have changed (I havent flown in a LONG time) but it used to be so.
    Larry, Feb 21, 2005
  13. Derek Fountain

    Owamanga Guest

    How do you imagine you would be 'caught' exactly?
    Then you know of people who've had this 'enforced' ?
    Owamanga, Feb 21, 2005
  14. Derek Fountain

    Owamanga Guest

    All that happened is NY store didn't collect NY sales and use tax,
    because the state law doesn't require them to do so in this situation.

    Technically, you are supposed to declare the purchase in your home
    state. The tax is sales *AND USE*, the 'and use' bit bites you in the
    arse in most (if not all) states within the US.

    So far, the only reason we can get away with this, is that the various
    states are fairly incompetent at agreeing to either share purchasing
    data, or levy taxes on behalf of other states for the global gain of
    them all.
    Owamanga, Feb 21, 2005
  15. Derek Fountain

    Bryan Olson Guest

    Though here in the states, most everyone does it and it is
    definitely not the reason our prisons are over-crowded.
    Bryan Olson, Feb 21, 2005
  16. Derek Fountain

    Larry Guest


    But as I posted earlier.. It is the law and it is SOMETIMES enforced (and
    causes some people a big PITA.
    Larry, Feb 21, 2005
  17. Derek Fountain

    Joe Makowiec Guest

    The several states enforce it when people do rock-in-a-box. It works
    like this:

    Let's say, for the sake of argument, that I live in New York and have a
    summer place in Vermont. I want to buy a new D2X, which costs US$5,000.
    Sales tax on that, from a store in New York City, would be $438. So at
    the same time I buy a N55 body ($200) and have it shipped to Vermont (say
    $20), and pay sales tax on it ($17). The shipping invoice indicates that
    the D2X was the camera shipped. I walk out of the store with the D2X in
    - I've saved $200, and may have a cheap film body waiting for me in
    - The store has made an extra sale
    - The only one out money on this deal is the State of New York, which
    doesn't collect the sales tax on the difference.

    /This/ is what the states are more likely to go after you for. If memory
    serves, a high end jewelry store in New York got nailed for it a few
    years back.
    Joe Makowiec, Feb 21, 2005
  18. Derek Fountain

    Big Bill Guest

    There are procedures that will allow merchants to do this - if they
    really want the sale.
    The CC holder contacts his CC bank, and lets them know about the
    shipping address being different from the billiung address. Then, the
    CC holder asks the seller to contact the bank to verify the new
    shipping address; then all is OK.
    This does require the seller to make the call, though, and some may
    not want the added hassle.
    Big Bill, Feb 21, 2005
  19. Derek Fountain

    Owamanga Guest

    What added hassle?

    The seller simply (electronically usually) requests mail-order
    authorization on the card for this dollar amount for goods to be sent
    to this address & zip. The computer either says 'yes' or 'no'.

    If the card holder has previously added the new delivery address, the
    computer should authorize the sale.
    Owamanga, Feb 21, 2005
  20. Not quite. There is no tax payable in New York. You are required to
    pay sales tax to New Jersey. Of course, New Jersey doesn't know what
    New York is doing and vice versa, so they have almost no way of
    enforcing the tax.

    Now, if the entity you are dealing with maintains a physical presence in
    New York AND New Jersey, then you have to pay sales tax no matter where
    it's shipped from as long as it arrives in either of the two

    Most states have reciprocity agreements on large items (cars, etc.) that
    require some sort of registration. So, although you could buy such an
    item in a reduced-tax or tax-free state, you still have to file and pay
    state sales tax in order to register your vehicle.
    Brian C. Baird, Feb 21, 2005
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