Editors' pick: Originally published March 28.
If you don't already pay sales tax on Amazon (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report , now's the time to start shopping. Starting April 1, the tax party is over: Amazon will start collecting sales tax from all states.
Specifically, if you're in Hawaii, Idaho, Maine or New Mexico, you might want to get shopping. Those are the four remaining states that customers aren't charged sales tax from Amazon. (Note: Oregon, Alaska, Delaware, Montana and New Hampshire don't charge sales tax, so Amazon will not either).
This marks a bold contrast to just a few years ago. Historically, retail sales had been done in-store. However, as technology improved along with logistics, online shopping has experienced a massive uptick in transactions.
Amid the transition, some retailers pegged companies like Amazon and eBay (EBAY) - Get eBay Inc. Report as having an unfair competitive advantage. In truth, they did have an advantage. By not charging sales tax, consumers were saving money as opposed to going to the store. Not only was online shopping more convenient, but it was also cheaper in many cases.
Consider a simple example: A $50 video game.
To buy the game in Michigan (where I live), it's subject to 6% sales tax. If Amazon charges $50 and Best Buy (BBY) - Get Best Buy Co., Inc. Report charges $53 total, why would I go to the latter? Aside from having the game two days earlier, there's not much of a reason for consumers to go directly to the store. Additionally, bricks-and-mortar locations have higher expenses, given they operate a store, unlike Amazon which ships from a warehouse.
Unfortunately, it's most fair to apply a sales tax to online companies like Amazon. Only now, it won't do anything to reverse the trend for in-store shopping to online.
Shares of Amazon closed at $846.82 Monday, up 0.1%.
After opening at the lows, shares of Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. (AAPL) Report trended higher for most of Monday, finishing in positive territory. So what drove the stock higher? It could have been reports that Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM) - Get Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Ltd. Sponsored ADR Report will produce 100 million A11 chips for the iPhone 8. It could also be JPMorgan analysts placing the stock on its Focus List with a $165 price target.
Or, it could be that Apple won a court case in China that will allow it to continue selling the iPhone in Beijing. Baili, a Chinese-based smartphone maker, said Apple's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus infringed on the design of its 100C device.
The Chinese patent regulator agreed, imposing a sales ban of Apple devices. Fortunately for Apple, the company was able to continue selling its devices during these allegations. Now though, a Chinese court has ruled in favor of Apple, saying the company did not infringe on Baili's patent and can continue selling its devices. Apple did request that Baili be stripped of its patent, but the courts denied this request.
So what does it mean? More good news for Apple. The company can continue selling its devices and go about its happy-go-lucky billion-dollar way. Of course, despite being six months away, all eyes are shifting toward the fall when Apple will introduce the highly anticipated iPhone 8.
Apple closed at $140.88 Monday, up 0.2%.
It just doesn't end for Uber. It's like the company is trying to be in the news for all the wrong reasons. If it were a publicly traded stock, shares would likely be weighed down by all the press.
Uber temporarily suspended its self-driving car program after a big accident over the weekend. Add to that reports that CEO Travis Kalanick and a team of employees went to an escort/karaoke bar in Seoul and matters are made even worse.
Amid all of Uber's missteps, its smaller competitor Lyft has been looking to catch up. The company has rapidly stepped up its expansion in the U.S. It also recently showed off that its drivers have already racked up $200 million in tips--a feature that isn't available on Uber.
On Sunday, Lyft announced another differentiator: Donations. The company is basing its plan on a simple thesis, that a lot of little donations will add up to big-time contributions when multiplied millions of times. The program, Round Up & Donate, will allow customers to round up their fares to the nearest dollar. That difference, (say $15.50 rounded up to $16.00, difference = $0.50) will be donated to charity.
The idea is that if a consumer is willing to pay $15.50 or whatever amount, they will likely pay the 99 cents or less difference as well. Only that difference will go on to hopefully help someone else in need.
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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.
, which Cramer manages as a charitable trust, is long AAPL.