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Buying Online? Prepare To Pay PA Sales Tax

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Jon Delano Jon Delano
Jon Delano is a familiar face on KDKA-TV, having been the station's...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Thousands of Pennsylvanians shop on line and until recently escaped paying state and county sales tax on their internet purchases, but that changed September1st when the state revenue department began to enforce a new law.

“Anything that’s taxed in Pennsylvania will have to be taxed now via the internet,” Mary Bach, a consumer advocate, said.

Bach worries that consumers will be hurt because the state sales tax has so many quirky exceptions.

“I think there is a 100 percent chance that retailers in other locations outside of Pennsylvania who are doing business over the internet won’t have a clue,” she said.

She’s right. Take the popular online retailer Amazon. KDKA’s Jon Delano went on to buy flea powder — not taxable in Pennsylvania — but when he was about to check out, a sales tax was added in.

It’s not entirely the retailer’s fault. The sales tax law is wacky.

“If you buy toilet tissue, you do not pay sales tax, but if you buy any kind of facial tissue, those items are taxable,” Bach said.

Sometimes it works to the consumer’s benefit. Umbrellas are taxed in this state, but on Amazon, KDKA-TV found a large golf umbrella with no sales tax charged at check-out.

Consumer advocates like Bach think consumers are more likely to lose out.

If you feel that you have been wrongfully taxed and your online retailer won’t give you a refund, then the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue wants to hear from you. Click here to find contact information for the PA Department of Revenue.

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