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California: Top Ten Areas of Taxpayer Noncompliance


 California: noncompliance costs.

According to the California State Board of Equalization’s 2012-13 annual report, the sales and use tax audit program uncovered more than $528 million in missing tax revenue caused by taxpayer noncompliance.

An automated sales tax solution makes noncompliance obsolete.

The top ten

  1. Unsupported sales for resale was the top area of noncompliance. One in eight taxpayers made errors in this area, amounting to 21% of all net sales and use tax deficiencies. Those errors cost the state the most in lost revenue—more than $111 million in unpaid tax.
  2. Untaxed purchases from out-of-state vendors. Noncompliance was responsible for more than 14% of all net sales and use tax audit deficiencies and cost the state more than $78 million in unpaid tax. California taxpayers are required to pay use tax on taxable purchases when sales tax is not collected at the time of sale.
  3. Errors in compiling return.
  4. Reported sales lower than markup on purchases.
  5. Difference between recorded and reported taxable sales.
  6. Inadequate records resulted in unreported sales.
  7. Bad debts over-claimed on return.
  8. Difference between tax accrued and tax paid.
  9. Unreported taxable sales by unregistered retailers.
  10. Overstatement of exempt sales using purchase ratio.

Other areas of noncompliance include taxpayers who withdrew from resale inventory for their own use, and deficiencies in resale certificates.

Silver lining

Audits tend to inspire fear in the most law-abiding, compliant of hearts. Therefore it’s worth noting that the BOE returned more than $155 million to taxpayers in the form of sales and use tax audit refunds.

The information discussed above is described in detail in the BOE annual report, pages 23 ff.

photo credit: DonkeyHotey 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.