As Amazon.com gathers signatures to reverse a new online tax collection law, the state Board of Equalization said Friday that a mere 0.42 percent of personal income tax filers paid use tax on their 2009 out-of-state purchases.
The board, which administers sales and use tax collection in California, issued a new four-page review of use tax behavior in 2009. The state collected $10.4 million in use tax payments from personal-income tax returns that year.
Under long-standing California law, taxpayers are supposed to self-report use tax on remote purchases from out-of-state businesses, though very few do so. Democrats passed a different law in June that attempted to force out-of-state retailers like Amazon.com to collect those taxes.
BOE researchers found that wealthier taxpayers participated in greater frequency and paid more use tax to the state. Their report showed that 1.12 percent of households making more than $100,000 in adjusted gross income paid use tax, compared to 0.15 percent of those reporting between $0 and $30,000. It also showed that those above $100,000 paid on average $311 in use tax, compared to $76 for those making between $0 and $30,000.
The report shows one oddity, which is that households in Sacramento County earning between $0 and $30,000 reported an average of $376 in use tax, $300 more than the average of the 10 most populous counties. The board relied on Franchise Tax Board data and said this occurred for "reasons that are unclear to us."
The board also found high participation, relatively speaking, in the Silicon Valley, where 2.35 percent of Santa Clara County taxpayers reported use tax.