If you shop online, chances are you probably don't keep track of whether you paid
sales tax on every purchase.
But the state Board of Equalization is reminding taxpayers: You may owe taxes and there's an easy way to pay up.
Whether it's catalogue clothes, mail-order car parts or eBay purchases, the state requires a "use tax" on purchases from out-of-state sellers who don't charge California sales tax. (What you owe is based on the sales tax rate in effect for where you live.)
And it's supposed to be paid when filing your 2012 income taxes this year. If you don't have receipts, the BOE has a handy Use Tax Lookup table that spells out exactly what you owe, based on income. (The LookUp table applies only to purchases of personal items priced below $1,000 each. For items above $1,000 each, you would need to have a receipt and pay the applicable sales tax.)
For instance, if your adjusted gross income is $30,000, you owe $17. For higher earners with adjusted gross income between $175,000 and $199,000, the amount owed is $94.
But don't take our word for it. The BOE has a YouTube video to explain use tax and how to pay it.
And the BOE notes: Use tax has been around since 1935. It's not an "Internet tax" but partly intended to protect California businesses from out-of-state retailers that can undercut them on price by not charging sales tax.