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Shopping in USA - TAX

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Torquay, United...
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Shopping in USA - TAX

Hello

I'm planning holiday in California. Doing some research and getting more and more worried about the pricing in US.

Am I right to think that ALL the price there are shown without tax?

Prices in reastaurant on menu, price in shop for everything?

Then there are different rates of taxes in different places and for different services?That is very confusing :-(

Read this on Beverly Hills forum and to be honest guys, I don't know how you do it? I will have carry around calculator with me at all times! :

"Remember that sales tax (9.25% in most of LA) will be added to the menu prices. Also, in sit down restaurants, its customary to tip the waiter anywhere from 15-20% of the pre-sales tax bill unless the service is just awful"

Lewes, United...
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1. Re: Shopping in USA - TAX

misablue - the USA operates on a net price system. This means the prices you see for anything you wish to buy, whether specific items in stores or groceries from a supermarket, any consumables in bars and restaurants and any tourist services such as hotel room prices, tours and excursions, and also, of course petrol/gas in your rental car, are ALWAYS the net price. However, when you come to buy these items, the price you wil be told to pay by the teller will always have the taxes added, and your bill or receipt will also always clearly identify the taxes. You won't be expected to calculate the taxes in your head!

Each State, but also each local district levies different taxes. For example, in a big city, you might fight a grocery store on the corner of one block, and an identical branch at the next intersection. The same item purchased in the 2 stores may well cost you a slightly different amount if you have crossed into a different municipality or 'county' as these taxation percentages are locally agreed levies.

On top of that, anywhere where you are provided with a service, whether it be a bar or restaurant, you are expected to tip. Also, chambermaids in all hotels and motels and the bell boys will need to be tipped. I won't go into tipping here. Just put tipping into the search box of any forum in the USA and you'll get a whole load of (hopefully, useful) responses and views.

I hope this answers some of your concerns. If not, ask more questions and I'm sure others will be happy to explain more clearly than I can.

SWT

Edited: 18 January 2011, 12:15
Galveston, Texas
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2. Re: Shopping in USA - TAX

Am I right to think that ALL the price there are shown without tax? YES

Prices in reastaurant on menu, price in shop for everything? YES

Then there are different rates of taxes in different places and for different services?That is very confusing :-( YES -- just expect less than 10% to be added to your bill

Read this on Beverly Hills forum and to be honest guys, I don't know how you do it? I will have carry around calculator with me at all times! -- You won't need to carry a calculator round

"Remember that sales tax (9.25% in most of LA) will be added to the menu prices. Also, in sit down restaurants, its customary to tip the waiter anywhere from 15-20% of the pre-sales tax bill unless the service is just awful" --- To make tipping easy just doubled the tax [which will be shown seperately on your bill], and round to the nearest dollar. Also tipping is always required, even the service is awful, speak to the manager first.

San Diego
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3. Re: Shopping in USA - TAX

As mentioned the final price you see will have the tax added in.

NOone goes around with calculators trying to figure it all out.

We just like to know the whole story which includes the price of the product/service and then the tax.

Every city/state has a different final percentage.

You didn't ask about tipping but emmazozo wrote about it and the only thing wrong is this:

"Also tipping is always required, even the service is awful, speak to the manager firs"

Tipping is NOT required when service is awful!!!! Just pay your bill and leave. I would always speak up to the manager if something is wrong but hopefully you won't have that sort of experience.

Torquay, United...
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4. Re: Shopping in USA - TAX

Thank you so much for all the replies!

I hope we will get used to the net price system after few days, it just seems very complicated now.

Will have to keep reminding myself in shops about the tax, so I don't get carried away thinking I'm getting myself bargains :-)

I will also do some research on tips!

Los Angeles
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5. Re: Shopping in USA - TAX

Taxes are added to the quoted prices on most items. Its best to just add 10% to the stated price in your head (this is usually an easy enough calculation) to figure out how much it will really cost. Since tax is slightly less you'll end up paying slightly less than what you are figuring.

Tipping is 99% of the time never required or mandatory (the only exception is that sometimes restaurants will make a tip mandatory if your dining party is large enough - usually that means more than 7 or 8 people). But it is customary and unless the service you receive is just awful, its basically expected that you'll leave a 15-20% tip in restaurants. There are other people you'd usually tip as well - bell hop at the hotel ($1 per bag usually), taxi driver (10-15% of the fare), etc.

Edited: 18 January 2011, 15:39
Anaheim, California
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6. Re: Shopping in USA - TAX

Just to make things more confusing...

Some items are not taxed in California

MOST Food items are tax free, but some aren't, convenience foods, soda (which also have an additional charge, called CRV (to help promote recycling), and is either 5 or 10 cents per container, even most juice beverages, and then they charge sales tax on the CRV! For example lets say you decide to buy 3 12 packs of soda (12 ounce cans) for $10. The $10 becomes $11.80, and then you add tax, I am using 9%, which is a good average. So now you are at $12.90 out the door.

Service is not taxed in California, such as labor for car repairs, etc. The main tourism items are

Theme/Amusement Parks

Movie Tickets

Sporting Events

Plays

Concerts

The tickets are all tax free in California. In most other states, you would be paying some tax on those items.

In most cases, taxes are required to be added after the posted price. Some exceptions are bars, where drinks can have the sales tax included, and outdoor vending stands, such as a Theme Park Popcorn stand, where the tax is part of the price. Almost all places will state "Sales Tax has been included in the posted price" on their signage. For example, selling Hot Dogs in the Sports Stands, it is just too hard to deal with the issue. The Hot Dog is $5, and that is what you hand the vendor.

Alas, there is no good "standard" rule in regards to the issue.

…wikipedia.org/wiki/…California

Torquay, United...
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7. Re: Shopping in USA - TAX

Darkbeer:

That is really something, shelf price $10 for soda and $12.90 at till is nearly 30% price increase..

I guess every country has something different, well this tax system is very unusual and different thing for us..

Think I will be very careful buying food and stuff at least at beginning of our holidays, till we get hang of it..

Santa Monica...
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8. Re: Shopping in USA - TAX

No you don't need a calculator, you're not the one adding the tax, it's figured for you. And, a $10 drink would be $10.98 in Santa Monica, not $12.90. However, if you're buying the drink in a bar, there's no tax. It's a straight $10. If you buy food, though, you are charged tax.

Again, each city has a different tax, Santa Monica's is 9.75, so figuring 10% is always a good way to do it.

West Hollywood...
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9. Re: Shopping in USA - TAX

Yoga, Dark is including the CRV tax at 5-cents per can.

West Hollywood...
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10. Re: Shopping in USA - TAX

Torquay, I wouldn't worry about the taxes and the tipping. The cash registers automatically calculate the taxes (which are around 10%). The CRV that Darkbeer referred to is only for 'soft drinks and water sold in aluminum cans, plastic bottles and glass bottles' and that is calculated at between 5-cents and 10-cents per container (depending on the size of the container). So, a 99-cent liter bottle of Coke will cost $1.19 (10-cents for the CRV and 10-cents for sales tax).

Regarding tipping, as mentioned earlier, the bill (what we call 'the check') will have the taxes plainly displayed at the bottom of the page. So, for example, if your lunch bill comes to $25.00, the bill could look something like this:

Hamburger & fries $8

Hot Dog & fries: $7

2 chocolate milkshakes: $10

Total food: $25

Tax (9.75%): $2.44

Total: $27.44

Tipping should be between 15% and 20% (depending on how good the service is; if the service is horrible, though, you don't need to tip anything). Some people like to double the tax figure (above) to get an estimate for the tip since 2 x 9.75% = 19.50% (which is between 15% and 20%, although it's obviously closer to 20%). In the above example, $2.44 x 2 = $4.88 so using that as a guide, I would do the following:

a. If the service was excellent, I'd tip $5

b. If the service was good, I'd tip $4 (which is 16%)

Now, some people would say: "Just round it to $5" and go and, in some cases, I would do that. For example, in the above case, with a meal costing $25 and a tip of $4, if I paid with a $20 bill and a $10 bill (= $30), I'd be waiting for $1 in change. If the restaurant was busy or I was in a hurry, I'd pay the $30 and leave.

If you're using a credit or debit card to pay, you'll be presented with a credit card/debit card slip that has the total amount including taxes, a blank line called "Tip" or "Gratuity" and a "Grand Total" line. The convention is to fill in the tip on the line indicated, calculate the grand total (so, yes, you'll need to do some arithmetic) and then sign the slip. You CAN pay the tip in cash by simply drawing a horizontal line across the tip/gratuity area on the credit/debit slip you'll receive, writing the total including taxes onto the Grand Total line as well and then simply providing the tip in cash.

Two other tiny things:

1. At a restaurant where you order from a server (rather than at a counter like McDonalds), when the bill comes, you usually pay the server. However, in some less expensive (diner, coffee shop places), you take the check to the cashier and pay there. If the check arrives on a little tray or in a little plastic folder, then you pay the server; if it arrives "naked", then it usually means that you take the check to the cashier to pay; if you are in doubt, simply ask the server: "Do I pay you?".

2. If you're paying with a debit/credit card, when the check arrives, you will present your card (after reviewing the check). The server will then return with the check (again) plus 2 copies of the debit/credit slip (one for you to sign, the other for you to return to the server). This is where things can get a little complicated. Sometimes, the check, and the two debit/credit slips look alike (they are often printed on the same type of paper and are similarly-sized). So, it can be confusing as to which one is which.

To make it easier, the one that requires your signature at the bottom is the credit/debit slip that you need to sign (If there are 2 slips requiring a signature, just sign one of them and retain the other for your records). The only thing remaining is the question of: "What do I do with the check?" Most people just leave it with the server who disposes it; if you'd prefer to keep it as a memento, feel free to do so; take it with the copy of the credit/debit slip that you are retaining.

Good luck!