Sales tax

When buying an LA Times today, I tried to give the guy tending the newsstand 50 cents.  Because the paper says it costs 50 cents.  He insisted I give him 4 cents more.  I’d forgotten sales tax.  The fact that he had to ring up the sale, open a register, and hand me coins in return kind of defeats the purpose of a newsstand, I think.  Half the fun is flipping the guy one of those heavy Sacagawea dollars that inexplicably annoy people and yelling “keep the change” even if there is no change (this works especially well if you’re wearing a brown suit and fedora and if the guy tending the newsstand is actually an impoverished shoeblack selling papers he stole out of a trash can).

But mostly what surprised me is that, in California, newspapers are not exempt from sales tax.  I don’t really see why they would or should be.  And come to think of it, I’m not sure they’re tax exempt in New York or New Jersey either.  All I know is that I felt really dirty and unusual giving the guy three quarters and waiting for change.  There are some things in life that should come to round numbers.


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