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Don’t Be Scrooge


 You're supposed to pay California use tax if you owe it. You don't have to be happy about it.

Amazon.com charges California sales tax, but not all Internet merchants do. Knowing this, the California State Board of Equalization is reminding California taxpayers that use tax is due when sales tax isn’t collected at the point of sale.

The BOE appeals to the spirit of community, a fitting tactic during the holidays. It asks in the news release Holiday Shopping? Look at Your Receipts!, “[D]id you know that for every online purchase you and your fellow Californians make and don’t pay tax, you are missing out on an opportunity to help fund public safety, education, and other vital services in your community?” More than $1 billion in use tax is estimated to go unpaid every year in California. That could pay for a lot of services — full-time salaries for 9,780 police officers, 8,188 firefighters, or 13,288 teachers.

The BOE also encourages consumers to look at their receipts: “The easiest way to know whether you owe use tax is to review your receipt to see whether you were charged tax. If not, you are most likely responsible for paying use tax.” California use tax should be reported on the state income tax form.

The parting words from the BOE? “So don’t be Uncle Scrooge this holiday season. Pay your use tax to help keep essential services in your community funded.”

Businesses can facilitate use tax compliance with sales tax software. Learn more.

photo credit: Scrooge Pub in Itaewon via photopin (license)


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.