For years, the web-based book seller Amazon.com had not been charging sales tax in states in which it did not have a physical presence such as a store. States do not have legal jurisdiction over enterprises that are not located within their territory, although Amazon and other companies have had relationships with affiliate companies, which makes the concept of a physical presence unclear.
Customers who do not pay a sales tax to the seller are supposed to pay a Ause@ tax that is equivalent to a sales tax, but they rarely do this, due to the absence of enforcement. This proves that most people do not consider a tax on goods to be a moral obligation.
Now the sales-tax-free era is coming to an end. Book store owners had long complained that it was unjust for them to pay sales taxes while web-based sellers were not charging the tax. In California and some other states, the sales tax rate is about ten percent, a substantial difference when the price of a book is high, and the books can be mailed at the low-cost media rate. Continue reading