Sales tax is one of those things that most of us can’t circumvent. More than that, sales tax can very quickly add hundreds of dollars to an already expensive purchase. So how does one go about avoiding it?
If you’re looking to buy an Apple product like an iPad or a Mac without any sales tax attached to the price tag, you have a couple of options. But there are some definite caveats to keep in mind. So read on to figure out what you should know.
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Shop in a state without sales tax to buy your iPad
The simplest way to purchase an Apple device without any sales tax attached to it is simply to shop in a state without sales tax.
Of course, most of the population doesn’t live in a state without sales tax. Currently, there are only five states in the U.S. that fit the bill: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon.
But if you live in or near one of these states, you can pretty easily get a new iPad, Mac or other Apple product for hundreds of dollars cheaper than in another state.
The caveat to this is that if you buy a product in one state, but live in another, the state in which you reside will want the tax money that it would have gotten from that sale.
Most states with sales tax also have something called a use tax. You are supposed to report any purchases made in tax-free states and pay a use tax on those purchases when you file a return each April.
It’s definitely something to keep in mind, so research your own local tax laws.
Wait for your state’s tax holiday to purchase Apple device
Even if you don’t live in a sales tax-free state, you may very well live in a state with a tax holiday.
Basically, a tax holiday is a period of time in which the state does not collect sales tax on select purchases when it normally would. Tax holidays typically last a couple of days — generally, a weekend.
On the other end of the spectrum, most tax holidays have some restrictions on the kind of purchases they apply to. Sometimes, there’s a maximum purchase amount. Other times, the tax holiday only applies to certain items, like school supplies or clothing. All in all, there are seven U.S. states that have a tax holiday that applies to computers and other electronics.
Generally, tax holidays in the U.S. take place in August, though there are exceptions. Alabama’s and Tennessee’s tax holidays are in late July, for example.
There’s a lot of information to cover, so we’ll refrain from going too in-depth here. Look up whether your state has a tax holiday and check the date and purchase restrictions.
It’s also worth noting that Apple will generally dedicate a webpage to various state tax holidays around July or August. So it might be smart to keep an eye on the Apple page in those months.
Use certain online retailers for buying iPad without Sales Tax
In addition to retail locations throughout sales-tax-free states, there are also a couple of high-profile online retailers that don’t collect sales tax in certain states.
There are two notable retailers that stand out: Adorama and B&H Photo. They’re both Apple Authorized Resellers and just great choices if you’re in the market for a new iPad, iPhone, Mac or another device.
Adorama, for example, only collects sales tax on orders shipped to New York or New Jersey. The company is based in New York.
B&H Photo collects sales tax on orders shipped to a much larger pool of states: Alaska, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
It is worth noting, on the other hand, that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year to allow states to begin collecting sales tax on online purchases from out-of-state retailers.
This could change the online retail sales tax landscape significantly in the future. For example, before the Supreme Court decision, B&H Photo only collected sales tax on local orders to New York and New Jersey.
While Adorama hasn’t begun collecting any tax on orders other than the two states it’s located in, there’s no guarantee that it’ll remain that way in the future. So keep an eye on their sales tax policies and make your purchases sooner than later.
The other place to look for some good deals on clearance and refurbished Apple products is Small Dog Electronics.
Buying on the secondary market?
Sure, this piece is supposed to cover buying new Apple products without any sales tax. But buying on the secondary market is still worth a mention.
Generally, you won’t be charged sales tax if you buy a gently used item off of Craigslist, OfferUp, Letgo, Facebook Marketplace or another online peer-to-peer marketplace. You may even be able to find devices that are new, unopened or in-box.
Still, you’ll want to exercise extreme caution when buying an Apple device on the secondary market. If you aren’t careful, you could end up with a counterfeit product or a “reseller refurbished“ device with inferior replacement parts.
Because of that, we only recommend buying new devices on the secondary market to those willing to take the risk. Even then, it’s smart to keep a couple of rules in mind.
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Ask a lot of questions, like when it was purchased and from where. Ask for proof of sale, if possible.
- Make sure that it’s actually a new Apple device and not a fake or third-party refurbished. Inquire about hard proof that it’s genuinely a new Apple product.
- If possible, thoroughly inspect the device before purchasing it. Do your research and look for any suspicious signs of repackaging or inauthenticity.
- Try to purchase items with a credit card, or another payment platform that offers fraud protection. Cash transactions are the riskiest.
We hope that you found this information helpful! If you are planning to buy a new or used Apple device and in the process save a few dollars, this should come in handy.
Mike is a freelance journalist from San Diego, California.
While he primarily covers Apple and consumer technology, he has past experience writing about public safety, local government, and education for a variety of publications.
He’s worn quite a few hats in the journalism field, including writer, editor, and news designer.