Tip Pay the Use Tax and Sleep at Night

One seemingly unassailable advantage of buying on the Internet is that, if the vendor isn't located or doesn't have a presence in your state, you won't have to pay sales tax. That's true, and it's a major reason why local merchants are taking such a beating from Internet firms that can offer lower prices because sales tax doesn't figure into the equation. While you may not be liable for sales tax, every state has something called a use tax, designed to extractthe same amountfrom you for out-of-state purchases. Until the economy went south, most states didn't bother pursuing use tax offenders (unless you bought an out-of-state car, and could register it only if you paid the use tax). But now that states are hard pressed to develop additional sources of revenue, they're going after online purchasers for that use tax. You may get away without paying the use tax for your digital camera, but if the state catches you (they now have software for ferreting out such sales), you may have to pay a stiff fine as well. It's better to just pay the use tax, and in the process, you'll help out your state's economy and sleep better at night.

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