Need answer fast: partial refund on eBay, and the sales tax

I am negotiating a partial refund from a seller who made a mistake in their listing, so that the item I got was not what I thought I was buying. I am still interested in it, but it is worth less than I paid.

My purchase price, of course, included sales tax, and the amount is material. The amount of the partial refund I will ask depends on the answer to my question below.

My question: if the seller provides a partial refund, does eBay automatically also refund the sales tax for that amount, or do I receive only the refunded amount without sales tax?

I have never returned an item for a refund without getting the sales tax refunded as well. I’d think this to be illegal in any jurisdiction.

I would imagine the same would apply in the case of a partial refund, but your case is arguably different. If I bought six widgets and returned three, I’d expect to get the sales tax back as well. Same thing if there was a genuine price change situation (such as where this is not a one-off item, but the seller has more of this to sell and the posted price has changed).

But your case is arguably different. In your case, the seller’s attitude might be, “The customer wasn’t happy, so I gave him some money back as an apology.” I really don’t know what the law (or Ebay policy) would be in that case.

If you used PayPal for the transaction it’s supposed to be seamless.
For other forms of payment I don’t know.

With that said, it’s easy for the seller to bungle things, especially for a partial refund or a new seller.
If you are talking about an item that cost $2k, then it’s worth triple checking and getting eBay involved if you don’t get the tax back.
If you are talking about an item that cost $50, it’s probably easier to plan on not getting that tax back and be happy when it does.

I collect a certain rare kind of vinyl record that comes in sets often for $70-120 for the set of 7. I have had people send me partial sets or perhaps 3 out of 4 sets in a lot, and they would issue the partial refund, but sometimes I got the tax back and sometimes I didn’t. There are only a few dozen folks collecting these records, so I have bought from these sellers before, so it really wasn’t worth it for me to try to solve the problem.

One guy even goofed it up when he tried to return a couple of dollars in shipping: he managed to give me a full refund, even though the item showed up. That was a super pain in the backside since eBay doesn’t have a way to reverse that or to return money to the seller once the seller issued a refund. Easiest way was to send via PayPal–even eBay support said so, though technically it’s in violation of eBay policy to exchange info for such an external transaction.

I thought I had found the answer, which is to put the total amount of the partial refund, including taxes, in the Total Refund Amount field, and eBay would automatically parse out the taxes to refund (which they would pay) and the seller would pay the rest. But no. My seller agreed to the partial refund amount, and followed these instructions, but eBay added taxes to it, so that I was over-refunded by several dollars. I wrote the seller and volunteered to pay them this amount via Paypal or something, but got no response. They seem to be satisfied with a positive review, so I gave it to them.