Plan Aims to Collect Taxes Owed But Not Paid

Plan Aims to Collect Taxes Owed But Not Paid

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Richard Piatt ReportingIf you've never heard the words "Streamlined Sales Tax" before, you're not alone. But chances are you'll hear it in the future because it's basically the first step toward collecting a tax you owe, but might not be paying.

We start this story several years in the future, when sadly to say, the sales-tax free internet deal is history. Yes, it's probably inevitable.

States, including Utah, Idaho, Nevada and the Federal Government are figuring out ways to get the sales tax we all owe when we buy on-line, but a lot of us don't pay.

You're supposed to volunteer to pay 'use tax' on your State tax form. But there hasn't been a good way for the state to get it, which is where the Streamlined Sales Tax comes in.

It's a baby step toward tackling a complicated sales tax problem fairly. Right now if you buy and request delivery for furniture in Salt Lake City, you pay sales tax to Salt Lake City even if you don't live there.

Starting July first the Streamlined Sales Tax demands sales tax at the 'point of delivery'. So if you live in Park City, you will pay Park City sales tax when it's delivered, even though you bought it in Salt Lake.

You can see how internet sales can be folded into this law, and that will mean big bucks for each state that collects it.

In Utah watchdog groups are already keeping an eye on the Streamlined Sales Tax because so much money is at stake.

Howard Stephenson, Utah Taxpayers Association: "It's a chunk of money. $150-million could be used to eliminate the sales tax on food for example. It could go a long way in reducing current taxes in Utah, and that's what this money ought to be used for."

A couple of footnotes: Businesses will take the brunt of the Streamlined sales tax, and the Tax Commission is actually holding seminars on what they can expect. Also: Mandatory internet sales tax is still years away, but some on-line retailers are collecting it voluntarily right now.

If you're thinking about calling to complain, don't bother: After all, you legally owe it anyway.

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