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On-Line Holiday Shoppers: Don't Forget the Sales Tax

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Pennsylvanians who observed Cyber Monday by taking to the Internet for some holiday shopping should save their receipts. Consumers are responsible for reporting online purchases to the state when those purchases don’t include sales tax.

Department of Revenue spokesman Elizabeth Brassell said sometimes the sales tax is included in the final price, but in some cases, online purchases may require an extra step from the buyer. “If use tax was not called out on a separate line item on the receipt or the purchase record, then it’s the responsibility of that person to report use tax to the state on the 2012 personal income tax return,” Brassell said.

She said whether or not online purchases include sales tax depends entirely on the retailer. “Sales tax will always be called out separately on the receipt so it’s easily identifiable, so if it’s there, there’s nothing to do.  If it’s not there, that’s when it’s a consumer’s responsibility to remit use tax,” Brassell said.

The state is expecting to see between six and seven million dollars in use tax for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.  Brassell said last year, the state collected about $3.8 million in self-reported sales taxes from tax year 2011, which includes collections through 2012.

“The cumbersome reporting system that had existed prior to that wasn’t very user-friendly, so we’re confident that that 3.8 million in use tax revenue is new tax revenue for the state,” Brassell said.

This past January, the state simplified the use tax reporting process for taxpayers, adding a line to the state personal income tax return.

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