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Fuzzy math: Paying the full sales tax for a discounted item

August 28, 2013|By David Lazarus

Heesook recently noticed something that you may have noticed as well.

Sometimes when she buys a discounted item, she's charged sales tax at the undiscounted price. Sometimes she isn't.

Her question: What's going on?

I'm asked this a lot, often by people who have paid full freight on their sales tax after buying a deeply discounted smartphone.

Sales taxes are tricky, and they can vary from state to state. But generally speaking, if the discount is offered by a retailer, you'll pay a lower tax. If it's offered by a manufacturer, you'll pay a higher tax.

For more, check out today's Ask Laz video.

If you have a consumer question, email me at or contact me via Twitter @Davidlaz.

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