The statewide sales and use tax rate decreased by a full percentage point yesterday, July 1.
But at the same time, a new state law took effect that requires out-of-state retailers to collect sales taxes on purchases made by California customers. The new law particularly affects amazon.com, which up to now has not charged sales taxes on its online purchases made here.
The statewide sales and use tax rate decreased from 8.25 percent to 7.25%. The 1% decrease applies, generally, to all taxable transactions in California. In areas where voters have approved additional sales taxes, the total tax rate applied to purchases will be the statewide base tax rate of 7.25%, plus any applicable local sales tax.
As part of a 2008-09 budget agreement, the state Legislature temporarily increased the General Fund portion of the sales and use tax rate by 1% in April 2009, with the increase to expire at midnight June 30, 2011.
Betty T. Yee, a member of the state Board of Equalization, said the sales and use tax rate in California has ranged from 8.25% to 10.75%, depending on whether additional regional voter-approved sales taxes appled. Now the range is 7.25% to 9.75%.
It's unclear as to how the Legislature's action in mandating sales taxes for all online purchases will affect California. State officials said the new tax collection requirement — part of budget-related legislation — is expected to raise an estimated $317 million a year in new state and local government revenue.
But the new requirement applies only to online sellers based out of state that have some connection to California, such as workers, warehouses or offices here. Both Amazon in Seattle and Overstock in Salt Lake City have told affiliates that they would have to move to another state if they want to continue earning commissions for referring customers.
Many of about 25,000 affiliates in California, especially larger ones with dozens of employees, are likely to leave the state, Rebecca Madigan, executive director of trade group Performance Marketing Association, told the Los Angeles Times. The affiliates combined paid $152 million in state income taxes last year, she pointed out.