Consider online shopping. It's rampant today, right? I mean, I purchase more than my fair share of books from Amazon.com, who are based in Washington state. Not once has Amazon charged me sales tax.
Windfall for me, right?
Enter use tax. Oklahoma isn't about to let sneaky residents like me get away sales-tax-free on such purchases. Our laws dictate that "use tax" kicks in to make sure my wallet opens up just as far as it would had I purchased the books inside Oklahoma.
I am quite sure that a vast majority of e-buying Oklahomans are ignorant (or, perhaps, "ignore it") of our state's use tax laws. The tax commission doesn't publicize the law (or lawbreakers, for that matter). So if you just casually checkmark that little box on Line 21 of Oklahoma's Tax Form 511...
... then I suppose you can just skip on down the road, eyes bright and purse plump, confident in your pretense that you're too small a fish for Mr. Tax Man's net to snag.
Call Me Crazy
My household, however, dutifully pays its use tax each April 15. We've paid it every year since the mid-1990s, when I first began doing our taxes myself. The absolute last thing I need is Mr. Tax Man sweepin' down the plain to land at my door.
I learned early on that my comrade Quicken could be of great assistance in this regard. What a pain it would be to collect all use-tax related receipts during the year, and then have to tally them up at tax time. Bah.
No, there are better ways. And a handful of them are delineated in my latest tutorial:
IYM Tutorial: Handling Use Tax in Quicken
It's my hope that this tutorial keeps at least one or two readers out of hot tax water somewhere down the line.
My suspicion is that going forward, state tax agencies will only look harder and harder for the revenue that's due them by Joe and Janet Sixpack.
Small fish ignore use tax at their own peril.