While I was traveling in Raleigh, North Carolina, I bought a wireless mouse at the Apple Store to work with my Macbook Pro. It wasn’t until I heard the cashier tell me the total did I realized the sales tax was different than where I live (Southern California). I checked the receipt, and there in big letters were Tax@6.75%: $4.66.
I used to live in the border of Orange County and Los Angeles County, where the sales tax was 7.75% and 8.25% respectively. I remember thinking about our geographic location before we purchased anything because it was possible that we can pay less if we went to another location close by.
Now you might be thinking that 7.75% and 6.75% is only a difference of 1%, but if I bought my Macbook Pro in North Carolina, I could’ve saved myself $20. Sure it still wasn’t much but I would be saving much money if I consistently buy in a low sales tax state.
I’m not sure why different states are allowed to dictate different sales tax, but I remember the simple times when I was in Hong Kong and there wasn’t any sales tax added on top of the merchandise price. In Hong Kong, the sales tax is included in other taxes for the merchants which make much more sense to me. When we go shopping and it was advertised for $100, we paid $100 and not $106.75 at checkout.
Of course, I shouldn’t complain too much because when I was in Toronto (Canada), the sales tax was 15% (it has gone down to 14% now I heard). Why the government needs 14-15% to keep themselves from losing money managing everything is beyond me but I certainly never had the choice of not paying.
No matter where we are, there will probably be a place that will charge less sales tax than the most convenient location. Would you go out of your way just to save that extra 1%? If you were me, would you wait to buy all the larger purchases until I was on a business trip? What do you think?