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Avoiding Sales Tax

Nancy Patterson April 4, 2012 Easy Street 9 Comments on Avoiding Sales Tax

Many of you know that Mark Patricks, founder of League of Power, got his start in the business working for an eccentric millionaire. Mark worked for a number of years managing this man’s many businesses. Until one day he’d decided he’d had enough of making other people rich and struck out on his own. League of Power was started shortly after that to teach others what Mark had learned about becoming rich during his indentured years.

The eccentric millionaire taught him a great many things. More than once Mark Patricks and I have sat outside on his backyard patio in the evening, sipping a cool cocktail and talking about those days and some of the more exotic money-making practices he picked up. Now-a-days we don’t do this as often as we used to. Mark has become quite a busy man these days with all of his business ventures, but I had the great pleasure of having dinner with him this past weekend.  To my delight we fell back into our old habits of discussing his younger years working for that unconventional, rich, old coot.

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Most rich people didn’t get rich by being frivolous with their money. Oh no. In fact a lot of rich people are tight wads, who have serious hang-ups about money. Even when they can afford it, many rich people go to extraordinary lengths to save themselves money. The story Mark told me is about the extraordinary lengths his previous employer would go to, to save money.  I found it fascinating and I thought you might too. If it’s good enough for a ridiculously rich man, it’s good enough for us 99 percenters as well.

We all know that rich people seem to acquire a lot of “toys.” Motorcycles, yachts, antique cars, jet-ski’s, private planes…you get my drift. Well toys like that cost a lot of money…thousands of dollars, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. The sales tax on one of those toys usually ads several thousand dollars to the final cost of the toys. A modest seven percent sales tax on a $200,000 yacht purchase will run a buyer an additional $14,000. Nothing to sneeze at, even if you’re rich.

There are ways to get around paying sales tax, but only for those in the know. Apparently Mark’s old boss was one of those in the know. For starters he used to regularly visit the states of Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon to buy his toys. These five states don’t charge sales tax. Buying big ticket items from one of these five states can save you boat-loads of money. Consider making a road trip if you live near one of these states. If your purchase totals will exceed what you would spend in gas, then the trip will definitely be worth it. Also think about going on a vacation in one of these areas and stocking up on goods then.

If you live in or near these states, rest assured you are paying the least amount of sales tax of anyone in the country: Alabama (4%), Colorado (2.9%), Hawaii (4%), Louisiana (4%), Missouri (4.225%), New York (State) (4%), Oklahoma (4.5%), South Dakota (4%), or Wyoming (4%). Goods bought in any of these states can save you money as opposed to buying goods from any of the following eight states that enjoy charging the highest sales tax in the country: Washington (6.5%), Tennessee (7%), Rhode Island (7%), New Jersey (7%), Nevada (6.85%), Minnesota (6.875%), Indiana (7%), and California (8.25%).

Another way to avoid paying unnecessary money for goods is to buy wholesale. Basically anything that you buy that you plan to resell, you don’t have to pay sales tax on. The rich use this tactic to purchase goods for their own businesses. Business owners can buy products at wholesale prices (which usually are cheaper than retail prices too), save money by not paying thousands of dollars in sales tax, and then resell them for more money to consumers. It’s a win-win for them.

If you don’t have a business, you can still buy goods at wholesale prices, you just have to know where to shop. Buy your goods from eBay, Craigslist, auction houses, garage sales, flea markets, anywhere that goods that have been previously owned are sold. These are all examples of retailers that aren’t required to charge consumers any sales tax. The bigger the purchase you make from a second-hand retailer, the more you save! Big ticket items like home goods, sporting equipment, furniture, and tools represent the biggest bang for your buck. When you buy direct from individuals you can save yourself anywhere from 4% to 8.25% of the total purchase price, depending on what state you live in.

You can also avoid paying sales tax if you shop online. Retailers that don’t have a physical presence in your state are not legally required to collect sales tax from you. For example most people who purchase goods from Amazon.com aren’t charged sales tax. Only consumers living in Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Dakota, or Washington are subject to tax by Amazon. Most online retailers only charge sales tax to consumers who live in a few states. If you find you are being charged sales tax on your online purchases, switch to one that doesn’t maintain a residence in your home state. Most goods can be bought from multiple retailers now-a-days, if you comparison shop you can save yourself a hefty profit.

Don’t forget about tax free holidays as well. Most states don’t charge sales tax one or two times a year and call it a tax free holiday. In the majority of states, these tax free holidays fall in August to help out parents buying back-to-school goods for their children. A smattering of states also have these tax free holidays in January to help stimulate the local economy, when spending goes way down. My home state of Florida holds one such holiday weekend at the beginning of hurricane season (June 1st) every year. It gets us Floridians to stock up on emergency goods like flashlights, generators, and batteries. To find out when your home states next tax free holiday weekend is enter your states name and the words “tax free holiday” into your favorite search engine.

The rich are usually rich because they’ve figured out how to do something the rest of us haven’t. Finding out about deals like this can really add up, even if the idea originally comes from a miserly, old millionaire.

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Keeping Money in Your Pocket,

Nancy Patterson


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