Monday, March 24, 2008

Quicken and Use Tax

My wonderful state of Oklahoma requires that residents pay use tax. For those unfamiliar, use tax is my state's (and likely your state's) way of collecting sales tax on items that were (1) sold outside of Oklahoma, (2) used inside of Oklahoma, and (3) went without sales tax of any kind being collected at the point of sale.

Consider online shopping. It's rampant today, right? I mean, I purchase more than my fair share of books from, 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.

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— Posted by Michael @ 8:46 AM


Do you exclude any shipping charges from the amount you assess use tax on? Since they aren't real and tangible property I would assume they are not taxable.

Anonymous Anonymous
, at 3:33 PM, March 24, 2008  

It depends on your state. I was browsing thru a few states' websites last night, and I believe it was North Carolina's site that specifically stated that shipping and handling charges ARE use-taxable.

I don't know if Oklahoma is the same way, to be honest. I just remit the amount of use tax that applies to the whole bill.


Thanks! I just printed off your tutorial and will set it up this weekend! Love your blog! Just wish you published more often... but I guess we all have day jobs:)


Oklahoma, land of taxes. They tax the roads, the food, income, property, you name it. And now you can't even buy anything anywhere else without paying taxes on it. Yet we're one of the most underdeveloped states around...hmmm...coincidence?
Ok, ok, I don't really mind paying taxes, they are a must and fund wonderful things like the free school lunch program. But it bugs me that things like food are taxed, and roads are falling apart despite it all. I'm originally from Tulsa, and every time I go back home I feel like I dodge potholes the entire time I'm on the road there.

Anonymous Anonymous
, at 11:16 PM, March 28, 2008  
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