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Students still shopping Amazon, despite tax

Senior Mail Center Clerk Rosie Fonseca sorts incoming mail for online purchases for faculty and students. After years of not having to pay sales tax, online retailers such as Amazon have begun to collect sales tax on California sales, starting Sept. 15. The new tax will affect many University of La Verne students who buy or rent textbooks and other items online. / photo by Pablo Cabrera

Senior Mail Center Clerk Rosie Fonseca sorts incoming mail for online purchases for faculty and students. After years of not having to pay sales tax, online retailers such as Amazon have begun to collect sales tax on California sales, starting Sept. 15. The new tax will affect many University of La Verne students who buy or rent textbooks and other items online. / photo by Pablo Cabrera

Mariela Patron
Staff Writer

Up until last month, Californians were not charged state tax by such popular online stores as Amazon, but as of Sept. 15, that changed along with some people’s shopping habits.

At La Verne, however, students say their Amazon and online shopping habits have not changed dramatically and probably will not in the near future, according to an informal survey of 13 students on campus.

Though some are disappointed with the fact that they will have to pay sales tax, most plan to continue to shop online for their necessities.

“I probably save around $400 in Amazon and other textbook sites,” freshman biology major Claudia Ferrer said. “In the end I’ll probably still save more money than buying books from the bookstore.”

“The prices at the bookstore are super-overpriced,” sophomore political science major Mirrella Bautista said.

Bautista said that last semester she spent $500 in books at the bookstore, compared to the $200 she spent the following semester when she bought her books online.

“I’m still going to buy them online,” Bautista said.

The new tax is based on the fact that while Amazon does ship to California from other states – which would exempt it from paying state tax – Amazon also has warehouses in California and its physical presence here requires the company to collect and pay sales tax to the state.

The new tax ranges from 7.25 percent to 9.7 percent.

“If it’s something I want, I will get it anyways,” junior political science major Abbrieanna Reyna said.

“It’s cheaper on Amazon, so it will counteract the prices.”

Before this law was implemented, out-of-state retailers that serviced California residents were required to pay sales tax in the form of use tax.

State officials say that a total of $1.2 billion were lost in unpaid use tax.

The new law makes sure that California receives tax money from these sales.

“It will probably help various government entities like parks, facilities, technology,” professor of accounting Renee Miller said.

Despite the fact that they say they will continue to shop via Amazon and others, many in the informal survey said they’re not pleased.

“It kind of sucks,” sophomore business major Alex O’Donnel said.

“Books are so expensive, but you gotta do what you gotta do,” Lisa Baudin, junior history major, said. “It makes me mad.”

“Further down the road it won’t have much of an effect because people will get used to it,” Miller said.

But for some students, the tax is enough for them to re-think their online shopping habits.

Sophomore psychology major Ivonne Valle usually shops for soccer cleats, shoes and books online.

“Books are really hard to get, so with books I wouldn’t stop [shopping], but shoes and clothes I probably will,” Valle said.

Freshman psychology major Celena Madeo buys most of her school books on websites such as Amazon and represents the minority of students that will think twice before shopping online again.

“It makes me very upset,” Madeo said. “Maybe I just won’t do any online shopping anymore.”

State officials estimate California will receive about $317 million this fiscal year from the new tax law, with an estimated $83 million from Amazon alone.

“Tax will always be tax, it’s a necessity,” junior child development major Karla Gonzalez said.

Mariela Patron can be reached at mariela.patron@laverne.edu.

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