California's online retailer tariff prompts buy-off

By Hannah Dreier

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Sept. 13 2012 8:52 p.m. MDT

In this Nov. 11, 2010 file photo, Katherine Braun sorts packages toward the right shipping area at an Amazon.com fulfillment center in Goodyear, Ariz.

Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Online retailer Amazon.com has tried to become all things to all consumers, but in California, it is about to take on a role it has fought against for years: tax collector.

The change, which takes effect this weekend, comes after years of bitter back and forth between the world's largest online mall and the California Legislature over whether Internet retailers should have to impose sales taxes on customers. The two sides reached a deal in 2011 that included a one-year grace period set to end Saturday.

The looming deadline has spurred at least some consumers into impulse-buying mode, making big-ticket purchases and stocking up on essentials before the tax collection kicks in.

"Even the mailroom is laughing at me," said Derek Daniels, 37, who has had Amazon packages delivered to his Los Angeles office every day this week. He's loading up on household supplies like trash bags, and on birthday and Christmas presents for his Superman-loving 2-year-old.

"We are hoping he won't fall in love with Batman by the time November rolls around," Daniels said.

The deadline spurred San Diego artist John Purlia to finally buy that Samsung flat-screen television that had been sitting in his Amazon shopping cart for months. He also picked up four CDs, an external hard drive and an oddly decorated $17.99 kitchen cutting-board — a gag gift for his sister.

California residents are supposed to calculate what they owe and send it directly to the state. But hardly any do.

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