To everyone planning to spend the entire weekend on their smartphones, their laptops, their tablets or their various other electronic gadgets in order to shop at Amazon.com before Sept. 15, when the mammoth online retailer starts collecting sales tax on California purchases:
You do know, don't you, that you already have to pay sales tax on your online purchases? Yes, it's officially called a "use tax" rather than a sales tax because Amazon is an out-of-state company. But that's only a technicality. You owe the same tax, whether it's called a sales tax and your online seller calculates it for you (and adds it to your bill), or it's a use tax that you have to add up yourself and send in to the Board of Equalization (right away) or the Franchise Tax Board (on your state income tax return at the end of the year).
So even if you hurry up and buy all your stuff now, before Amazon begins adding the tax to your bill, you still have to pay it. You've had to pay it all along. Retail sales didn't magically become tax-free when they moved from Main Street or the mall to the Internet.
It's not really that different from income taxes. Even if the government didn't automatically deduct income tax from your paycheck, you'd still calculate what you owe and send it in, right? Of course you would. Wouldn't you?