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Online Shoppers in Idaho May Owe Use Tax

  • Dec 2, 2013 | Gail Cole

 Idaho: Shopping online this holiday season? Remember the use tax.

Today, cyber shoppers from Moscow, Idaho, to Idaho Falls are scanning virtual shops for good deals. Cyber Monday is gift for people who live in remote areas, far from the shops that welcomed shoppers on Black Friday. Even people who live close to stores enjoy the advantages of shopping-by-click: no lines, no jammed parking lots, no pushy crowds.

The Idaho State Tax Commission has a message for Idahoans embracing the holiday spirit of giving:

Holiday shoppers: You may owe use tax on Internet purchases.

The news release reminds that when shoppers “buy goods on the Internet, by telephone, or from mail-order catalog, sellers won’t charge sales tax if they’re not Idaho retailers.” If you thought this was your lucky day, think again. When no sales tax is charged on taxable goods, “shoppers owe use tax if the goods are used, given away, stored, or consumed in Idaho.”

Shoppers are responsible for use tax

Out-of-state sellers won’t remind Idaho shoppers to pay use tax--although some do in other states (like Amazon in Tennessee). Instead, Idaho taxpayers “are responsible for paying the tax directly to the Tax Commission.”

Fair competition

Idaho Tax Commission Audit Division Administrator Randy Tilley realizes that many people don’t know about the use tax, even though it’s “been around since 1965.” Still, he argues that “it’s an important tool to ensure that Idaho retailers can compete fairly with out-of-state companies that don’t charge tax.” In addition, use tax “helps fund state and local services throughout Idaho.

Individual income tax returns

Not sure what to do about use tax? Idaho taxpayers are encouraged to “keep track of their untaxed purchases, total them up at the end of the year, and make a payment when they file their income taxes….”

Form 850-U, the Idaho Self-Assessed Use Tax Worksheet and Return, is a helpful tool that enables Idahoans to “pay use tax at any time during the year.”

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photo credit: Don Hankins via photopin cc

Sales tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.