Many if not most states have a "use" tax. That's the same percentage as the state sales tax on everything you buy that you didn't pay the state sales tax when you purchased it.
Now if I recall right, some (most?) allow you to exempt objects you paid sales tax on to another state. Or rather, they only charge you the difference if the other state tax rate is less.
People keep harping on taxes will ruin the internet. People talk about Walmart running old businesses out of town. If as the internet sales grow, they don't start collecting the state sales tax (for eitehr the sellers or the buyers state, one or the other), a few things are bound to happen. As sales tax revenue is lost, sales tax (and state income taxes, property taxes, privilege fees and such) are going up. And possibly many brick and morter stores will close due to the competition (which actually has an unfair advantage in business costs). And then you won't be able to look at real items in your home town then order what you like best from the internet at the lowest cost. Soon you won't be able to buy except by internet, mail order, or huge stores separated by a couple hundred miles from each other.
Ridiculous? probably exaggerated, but every item sold that state sales tax isn't paid on somewhere is another loss of revenue that means either state expenses must be cut, or other state taxes/fees much go up, and probably both.
Not that I particularly want to see taxes enforced on internet sales. I just think we should face the consequences that may exist. Or do we want to pretend that it's not necessary for someone to pay for state services? as we sometimes seem to do for federal expenditures.
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Here in Ohio, the taxman is starting to go after "internet tobacco buyers" in order to collect owed taxes. In Ohio, the honor system is used for purchasers to claim on thier tax forms such purchases and thus pay it. I'm sure that's similar to other states as well. Depending on the amount, it maybe small potates, but that's not just for one years taxes, they're going after several years of past purchases on "info provided by internet sellers". The muscle is out to get past taxes and I'm sure once the chinks are worked out and proves successful, afterall you did owe the taxes, other purchases are sure to follow. Heck, basic math on what many computer purchases can look like a big apple to the taxman, so BEWARE! -----Willy