The Tax Most People Forget to Pay

“Its a lot of fun,” Daniel Gottfried, a lawyer at Rogin Nassau in Connecticut, told me “I go through my credit card receipts … page by page.”

He finds something he bought from Amazon last May for $22.98. He didn’t get charged sales tax on the purchase, which means he owes the state of Connecticut $1.40 for that purchase.

Chana Joffe-Walt reports that most Americans — except for tax lawyers and accountants — forget to pay use taxes when they file our taxes every year. Use taxes are taxes we’re suppose to pay when we buy tax-free items online from retailers like Amazon, or from out of state.

In New York, Amazon charges sales tax at the point of sale so we don’t have to go through our statements to figure out what we bought on Amazon and how much we owe the state for those purchases, but there are plenty of other states where buyers don’t have to pay any taxes (currently, nine states are subject to taxes). I am generally a law-abider, but like the majority of people who don’t pay their use taxes, I doubt that I would spend hours going through statements to figure out what I owed, or find the process fun like Daniel Gottfried does. I’m curious to know if anyone reading this post goes through their statements to do just this.

Photo: alisdair