SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — On what is being called “Cyber Monday,” officials said buyers must pay California taxes on all of their purchases and beware of websites selling fake trademarked goods.

The California State Board of Equalization issued a reminder Monday that people who buy products from websites both within and outside the state must pay sales taxes, even if they are not charged at the time of sale.

The state levies a sales tax of 7.25 percent on merchandise, but many cities and counties charge a little more, such as total of 8.5 percent in San Francisco and 8.375 percent in San Jose.

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Federal Officials Target Websites Selling Counterfeit Goods

Buyers living in California who purchase gifts or other items from an out-of-state online retailer have to pay the “use tax” on personal property used or stored in the state, the board said.

The “use tax” is the same amount as the sales tax charged for in-state sales, the board said.

Purchasers of out-of-state goods have to pay the use tax based on the sales tax rate charged in the city or county in which they live, the board said.

The board makes it easier for consumers to immediately pay use taxes, based on the total spent on their sales receipts, with the “eReg” registration system at the board’s website.

Buyers may also report and pay the tax they owe on their annual state income tax form.

Also on Monday, the U.S. government and enforcement agencies from five European countries announced that 132 website domain names were seized for illegally selling phony trademarked products targeted to consumers shopping on Cyber Monday.

In an action called Project Cyber Monday 3, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s intellectual property unit and the European Police Office identified the domains from trademarks holders who claimed they were selling counterfeited goods.

The federal and European agencies then organized an undercover operation, where agents in seven U.S. states and the European nations located the domains, bought trademarked goods such as sports jerseys, jewelry, DVD sets and luxury goods from suspected domains.

If the trademark holders confirmed the ordered products were counterfeit, the task force shut down the websites and replaced them with banners informing consumers of the seizures and that willful copyright infringement is a federal crime.

During the operation, 101 of the seized domains were based in the United States and 31 in Europe. One person was arrested in the United States.

The international task force also found a number of PayPal accounts with about $175,000 in funds being used by operators of the domains that are also to be seized, federal officials said.

Since launching the effort to take over websites hawking counterfeit products in the United States in 2010, the customs agency said it has shut down 1,630 domain names.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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