If your state requires the tax yes, it is supposed to be collected and paid. Hasn't there been plenty of talk about internet sales and states missing out on lots of sales taxes because internet sales by pass them; for the most part? I know I've ordered things and sometimes pay taxes and sometimes not, just depends on the seller but I believe "legally" if your state has a sales tax then the seller is supposed to be collecting them and paying the state for the sale transaction.
"My treasures do not chink or gleam, they glitter in the sun and neigh at night."
If you buy within state, yes sales tax is due. Even for private transactions, but tax code is ignored since there's no way for authorities to find out about it, the lost revenue is not worth the resources it would take to enforce. (They do catch you on used car sales because the buyer has to register the car).
Since the transaction occurred in-state, sales tax seems valid to me. If the transaction crosses state lines, then it's interstate commerce and different rules apply; in that case, a "use tax" is supposed to be self-reported and paid by the buyer. So, even if you had a case that you don't owe sales tax, you still owe use tax.
Just because it's a rep that doesn't have an office, doesn't change the fact that it's a retail sale. That rep is merely following tax code. The others may be following the NJ mafia model of "hey, it fell off the back of the truck." and not reporting the sales.
Secondary question is whether this current rep's business is run legitimately, and they're actually reporting/submitting the tax they collect to the state. Not sure how you'd verify.
Your state Dept of Revenue could prob give you some answers, laws do vary by state.
Some States require you to register for collecting sales tax if you travel to their State and make a sale. If they have a retail outlet within your State, suppliers are required to collect tax. (eg; Dover may ship from MA but will charge sales tax if they have a store in your State.) The rules are not universal, so check the law for your State.
Technically you're supposed to pay the sales tax if the seller doesn't. Not many people do.
Agreed. Most states have a corresponding use tax. Even if the seller is not reqd to collect sales tax, the buyer may be obligated to pay the tax as a use tax. Not all sellers are reqd to collect sales tax. It would depend on whether the seller has physical presence in the state.
OP states that seller does not have a rep or assets in her "x" state, which I infer as physical presence. Indeed, seller may not have a requirement to collect, but the buyer still may be liable for the tax. It would depend on which state...
So it does raise a question, though; how would one know whether the sales tax collected is actually passed by the seller to the state? I mean, I agree that the OP should be agnostic since tax is owed no matter what (if not sales tax, then use tax).
But let's face it, the number of private individuals reporting use tax is exactly, oh, none. If a seller is collecting and pocketing it, it would be galling. (But it's admittedly hard to defend: it's ok if I break tax law myself, but it's wrong if you do it for me? But you know, even if I'm planning to jump a subway turnstile, that doesn't make it ok for you to steal my subway token.