On occasion of Cyber Monday, Pa. reminds shoppers about use tax

    Pennsylvanians observing Cyber Monday — and beyond — by taking to the Internet for some holiday shopping may need to save their receipts.

    Consumers are responsible for reporting online purchases to the state when those purchases don’t include sales tax.

    Not every online purchase requires an extra step from the buyer.

    “The first thing to do is check and see if sales tax was charged for the online purchase,” says Department of Revenue spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell. “If it was charged, then the consumer doesn’t need to do anything.”

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    If the receipt shows no separate line item for sales tax, then it’s the buyer’s responsibility to report what’s called use tax — a 6-percent levy on items bought from remote or out-of-state retailers who don’t themselves collect the 6-percent state sales tax.

    Pennsylvania officials expect this year’s self-reported use tax collection to increase over last year’s, even though more remote or Internet sellers have become licensed to collect sales tax, says Brassell.

    “Use tax is never going to go away,” she said Monday. “There will always be companies that exist that don’t have physical presence or nexus in Pennsylvania. But, obviously, when the larger e-commerce retailers become licensed to collect sales tax, it reduces the burden on individuals to report and pay use tax.”

    In January, the state simplified the use-tax reporting process for residents, adding a line to the state personal income tax return.

    The state collected about $3.8 million in self-reported sales taxes from tax year 2011, which includes collections through 2012. Brassell says her agency expects to collect as much as $7 million in self-reported use tax at the end of the current fiscal year.

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