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Saving Sales Tax


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Christopher's Forum Posts: 6

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By Christopher in WA on 3/2/2002


Here's a tip that I think will work in most states that levy sales taxes (it does in Washington State). Try to buy as many of your materials over the Internet with out-of-state companies, esp. fixtures, cabinets, etc. In Washington State, that means I save 8.8% of the cost of the materials every time I buy them. When you're talking about $100,000 in materials for a house, $8,800 can be money for a nice outdoor hot tub, granite countertops, or even a vacation at Club Med! Good luck, Chris Vaughan
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By Barry in WA on 4/24/2002


Speaking of saving sales tax...I live in Olympia, and just 100 miles from Portland. I've made several shopping excursions down there to save on sales tax. Mostly the weekly Costco/supply runs. My question is: is there anything that says you can't buy your lumber order and everything else for the house down there, rent a truck and bring it all back? My wife thinks for something as big as a lumber load, the state would be on top of it. But, I think it would be like anything else. (of course, I would closely examine the tax savings and truck rental versus local purchase options.) any ideas out there?
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By Aron in Bellevue, WA on 4/24/2002


That seems like a good idea to me. We are in Bellevue and are thinking of making a couple runs to Portland for big ticket items like appliances, tile, carpet, etc... never thought about lumber. Let me know what you find out.

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By Barry in WA on 4/26/2002


Aron, not so good news: I researched access.wa.gov, went to the Department of Revenue, and under 'citizen taxes' found that in Washington, you pay either a sales tax, or a matching use tax for goods purchased outside of Washington State. It's a voluntary reporting and paying of the use tax; however, if someone 'turns you in' it's mandatory. Didn't find any info on fines/penalties for non-payment.
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By Tim in Philomont, VA on 5/3/2002


I asked my accountant whether it would serve me well to purchase items, especially big ticket items for the construction of our house. I basically wanted to know if I could save having to pay the in-state sales tax. Her response was "Technically when you purchase out of state, VA expects you to pay use tax, in lieu of sales tax. So either way, you are liable for the tax. Yes, the rate's the same. The penalty [for not reporting such purchases and getting caught] would be the back tax plus interest & penalty." I believe that I am to do what's right, not what I can get away with, and what little (or much!) that I save by way of unlawful loopholes, I lose much more in blessings from God who provides us all with everything anyway. At least now I know the law for Virginia residents. I suggest you call your accountant and get the lowdown, or even call your state taxation department.
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By Annis in WA on 7/26/2002


I live in Seattle and am wondering if anyone knows about purchasing appliances and other home fixtures in Canada and returning with them to the U.S. I can't seem to find any info on the internet regarding the duties one would pay to bring these items across the border and therefore can't compare the total cost of buying in the U.S. or in Canada. I have found items there for nearly half the price of what they cost here in the U.S. factoring in the exchange rate of course. Any info or leads to follow would be appreciated !
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By Lorin in SD on 7/30/2002


Annis, I found your request interesting, so I did a little research. Here is what I found: Go to the following website - customs.ustreas.gov About halfway down the page, under the heading "Duty Rates/HTS" you will find a link called "Determining Duty Rates". That link will take you to a brief description of the Harmonized Tariff System as well as a link to the tariff database where you can look up individual items. Perhaps a more certain method for determining duty rates would be to contact your local port director. For the Seattle area, call 206.553.0770. Hope this helps, Lorin
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By Annis in WA on 8/2/2002


Hi Lorin, thank you very much for your reply and your investigation of my question. I had actually visited that site but didn't delve far enough into it. Thanks for recommending the Harmonized Schedule. I found it! Thanks again, Annis
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By Mark in Provo, UT on 9/9/2002


Annis: If it's a manufactured item like appliances or furnishings, you can take it across the border for personal use duty-free if it's manufactured in the U.S. or Canada. If they charge you a Value Added Tax at place of purchase, you can fill out forms and get the tax back. Mark
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By Jason on 10/9/2002


WATCH OUT for this trick: the town that I was looking at building in has the Building Inspector check your sales receipts for taxes paid. If you paid less than the total tax for the county, you pay up.
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By John in Los Angeles, CA on 1/8/2003


Never rent a truck. They really stick you for mileage. Instead, buy a used one. If you're building a house, you'll need it. Get at least an F-250 long bed, and put a lumber rack on it. If you're doing your own concrete or masonry, upgrade that to an F-350. That way you always have the truck available to you 24/7 with no pickup/dropoff logistics, it costs less, and you can sell it used in 2 - 5 years when you're done. You're building, so why not drive around looking like a builder? ;-) -- J.S.
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By Betty in Isanti, MN on 11/4/2003


A gal I know living north between the Twin Cities and Duluth (along the Wisconsin border) drives to Superior, Wisc. to get her lumber at Menards there. Says she saves a bundle too...
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