Do you cheat on your taxes? Before you automatically answer no, hold that thought.
Does your state have a sales tax? According to Wikipedia, only five states don’t have a sales tax: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon. There is a sales tax everywhere else. For purchases from an out-of-state store that does not collect sales tax, the states usually have a use tax, with the same rate as the sales tax. You are supposed to report and pay the use tax for these out-of-state purchases.
According to Wikipedia again, 22 states including New York, California, Ohio, and Virginia have a specific line for use tax on the state income tax return. If your state income tax form has a line for it, what did you put down on that line? Did you leave it empty? Did you include everything you bought online? If not, is that cheating on your taxes?
Whether the state includes a special line on the tax return or it requires you to fill out a separate form, you are still on the hook for paying the use tax. If you haven’t filed the separate use tax form, that’s still cheating on your taxes, isn’t it?
No confessions please. I don’t want to get anybody into trouble.
Most people don’t pay the use tax as required by law. And the states know it. They can’t do much about it because they don’t have any records about those out-of-state purchases. And people know it. That’s why they don’t pay that tax.
So it shows if people know the authorities don’t have any records, they cheat. People choose to disregard the law when there’s virtually no chance of being caught. You wonder where else people cheat on their taxes.
If most people don’t want to pay the use tax, and the states are not getting much revenue from it anyway, should use tax be taken off the books? I think so. The law should reflect citizens’ will, right?
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