Android Enthusiast
Jan 8, 2010
I bought the Samsung Galaxy S3 from the MetroPCS website for $399. The website collected $34.92 in sale taxes, (i.e., 8.75% in California.)

Then I noticed on the phone was shipped from Indianapolis, IL. It was shipped from outside California. I remember when I bought something online: if the product was shipped from out-of-state, then I did not have pay any sales tax. (All my Amazon transactions used to be tax-free until Amazon set up warehouses in California.)

Shouldn't MetroPCS have exempted my order from the California sale tax?
No, they shouldn't have.

The way the state sales taxing rule works is whether or not the seller has a physical presence in your own state. If they do, you pay state sales tax, if they don't you don't.

Example; Amazon has distribution facilities in several states. If there is an Amazon facility in YOUR state, you pay the tax, if there isn't you don't. If you buy a phone from Wirefly and live in the state where Wirefly is headquarted or has facilities, you'll pay the tax with them too, if not, you don't.

You paid the tax because MetroPCS has physical commercial operations actually IN your state. (Their stores) In fact, you actually answered your own question in your last sentence of your 2nd paragraph. ;)

Bruce in Ocala, FL
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When I bought the Nexus 7 it was shipped from Kentucky even though I live in California. So they'll tax you if they have a presence in your state even though the device shipped from somewhere else?
As a technical point your suppose to pay sales tax regardless of where it comes from. Most companies don't collect the sales tax if they are not in your state and you are expected to report it yourself. Most people don't and most (if not all) state governments don't bother trying to collect.
Well, it's fine. The shipping is free. It's still better and cheaper than buying it from a store, which would force me to pay $15 to activate a phone, and would try to con me into giving up my old legacy $50 everything-include unlimited-4G plan.

Every store lied to me and told me that I had to switch to a new plan when I tried to buy new Samsung Galaxy S3 from them, and of course they want me to active the phone and pay $15. There is no way I am giving up my $50 plan that has all the features included for free (currently most of those features cost extra individually) and has unlimited 4G usage (the current $50 has a 2.5G cap.)

I activated/upgraded my phone by calling into MetroPCS: it's free (no $15 charge), and I got to transfer/keep my legacy $50 plan.