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Ordering Information: Payment and Taxes

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Blue Jeans Cable
3216 16th Ave W
Seattle WA 98119

Orders by Fax can be placed at (206) 284-2931.

Sales Tax and VAT:

United States:

"Why the heck is there tax on my order when you're not in my state?"

Ah, American sales taxes. There was a time, not long ago, when a vendor like us who has operations in only one state could just collect tax in that state and ship tax-free to all other states. Since we are in Washington State and most of our customers are not, we get a lot of questions about why we're charging tax on their orders. Here's the deal.

It used to be that a vendor could only be made to comply with sales tax rules in a state if that vendor had a physical presence there. Applying sales tax obligations to out-of-state vendors was deemed to violate the Commerce Clause of the constitution. But in 2018, a test case brought by the State of South Dakota changed all that. In a 5-4 decision (the culprits being Kennedy, Thomas, Ginsburg, Alito and Gorsuch), the US Supreme Court muddied this previously clear question in a horrific way. The result is not really particularly clear to anyone, but at a minimum, it is now clear that states can impose sales tax obligations on out of state vendors under some conditions, including use of threshold requirements which prevent sellers who don't have much activity going into the state from being affected.

We trigger, or arguably trigger, those thresholds in a number of states -- about twenty of them, and we have to review that list regularly to see whether there's a state that we need to add or drop. In most such cases, we are obligated to collect and file all sales taxes. In some cases, however, our tax collection obligation does not extend to certain local portions of the sales tax, so it is possible, even if you live in such a state, that we will charge you a lower sales tax rate than you would be charged by a local vendor.


For orders to Canada, there are usually two options at checkout. If you choose to have your order shipped by Federal Express, we will estimate and collect GST, HST and PST at checkout, and we will then pre-pay these on your shipment so that the shipment arrives without any charge at delivery. If you choose a postal service method of shipment, we will not charge any taxes at checkout, but you may owe taxes upon receipt (or prior to receipt) of the shipment.

United Kingdom:

We are VAT-registered in the UK and we charge VAT on all orders shipping to the UK. On shipments under 135 GBP in VAT-exclusive value, no taxes will be charged on import, regardless of shipping method, and we will account for and pay the VAT when we file our quarterly return with HMRC. For shipments above that threshold, we ask that you select FedEx as your carrier; with FedEx we are able to have the import VAT charges attributed to us as the importer of record and billed to our account, so that you receive your package without being asked to pay anything. If we use postal service methods of shipment, we do not have any such method available to us and you will almost certainly face an invoice for VAT upon delivery, even though you have already paid us the VAT-inclusive price. If this happens to you, let us know and we can return the VAT which you paid us -- but the best practice is to just use FedEx, shift the burden of accounting and paying the tax to us, and thus avoid the issue entirely.

The Rest of the World:

For orders to most other countries, we are able to prepay VAT and duty in the same manner as is described for Canada, above: select a FedEx method of shipment as your shipping method, and any taxes will be added to the cost of your order at checkout. There are a few countries where this doesn't work; we have not, for example, been able to support this method to Brazil, Greece and Portugal, either because of difficulties with the taxing authorities in those countries or with the customs clearance processes that are available to us. We also offer postal service shipping to any country the USPS will allow us to ship to, but we have no method for prepaying VAT or duty in such cases so any taxes or fees which are owed will be payable by you on receipt.

Blue Jeans Cable
3216 16th Ave W
Seattle, Washington 98119
206 284 2924