Do you have to pay sales tax at estate sales in your state? I’m talking about sales of a deceased person’s stuff, priced and run by a professional estate sale company. Not an auction. Not a yard sale where somebody just threw their stuff on the lawn. Here in Alabama I’ve only encountered that once. In, I’m embarrassed to say, 30 years of going to estate sales, it’s happened once.
We were in Georgia for the weekend of the wedding and while going to town – to buy me a pair of pants because I spilled tea all over the only pair I brought for that day – passed an estate sale sign. Errrrrkkkkk! (That sudden turning of the car sound.) We had time. How can we resist an estate sale out of our usual territory?! Turns out, it was the second week, yes, week of the sale. Things were half price, but there wasn’t much of interest. I picked up a creamer and a bunch of wooden hangers. They were charging $2 each for pants hangers and $1 each for neat-o, blue wooden hangers. Then half of that. The creamer was $3.50 at half price. So, I get up there, counted the hangers looked to see how much money I had and saw that it was just enough. The price they quoted was a bit more. I said, “Huh?” We counted again and I’m like, “That’s what I thought. I have just enough.” But they said no. They had to add tax. Who charges tax on estate sale crap??? We discussed that a little and they suggested I put the creamer back. What? I kept my mouth shut, but I was thinking, “They can’t give me a few crummy hangers?! That’s ridiculous!” I ended up putting it all back. The nerve. They said they couldn’t discount anything any more. That they had to account for everything. Bah! Like the family is going to get mad at them for letting a few hangers slide.
So, do you have to pay sales tax? I understand auctions charging tax. We write the check to them, not the hauler. But an estate sale, run by professionals…. Well, they’re a service. They shouldn’t have to pay tax for being the middle man. Should they? Isn’t it like hiring someone to price and watch your yard sale junk? What’s the difference? They said, “but we’re professionals.” But it’s not their stuff! Help me understand. Here in Bama, at estate sales, we write the check to the “estate of ___” or something similar. Maybe that’s how they get away with it? We don’t pay sales tax for services.
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