Live in South Carolina and purchase something from Amazon in the last year? Then expect a tax "reminder" in the mail.
The same deal that allowed Amazon to open a South Carolina distribution point but dodge collecting our state's sales tax also had a catch to help the Palmetto State to try and collect some of the estimated $110 million it misses out on each year.
If you didn't know, although buying many goods online allows you to skip paying tax at purchase, you're required to still pay a "use tax" on your annual taxes.
The tax-break law that was written to suit the situation of Amazon also had a catch, section "12-36-2691(E)(3)" that requires the online retailer to send by mail or e-mail a note "by February first of each year provide to each purchaser to whom tangible goods were delivered in this State a statement of the total sales made to the purchaser during the preceding calendar year."
And indeed those letters are going out, writes The Post and Courier.
However the paper also writes that Amazon isn't telling your secret amount that you owe to the state, so it is up to you to pay up the right amount.
Below is a copy of a reader-forwarded e-mail from Amazon:
Hello from Amazon.com,
As you may or may not be aware Amazon.com LLC is not required to collect sales or use taxes in all states, including the state of South Carolina.
The South Carolina Department of Revenue requires us to provide the following notice to you:
You may owe South Carolina use tax on purchases you made from Amazon.com LLC during the previous calendar year. The amount of tax you may owe is based on the total sales price of the items you purchased during the previous calendar year. The total sales price of only purchases you had shipped to South Carolina in 2011 was $XXX.79. This is the amount that you may include on your South Carolina income tax return to calculate the appropriate use tax owed unless you have already paid the tax.
While Amazon.com LLC does not report this information directly to the state of South Carolina we are required to provide this information to you based on South Carolina law Section 12-36-2691(E)(3).
As purchases from Amazon.com LLC can be made through various sales channels, we have included directly below your breakdown of purchases from the various channels.
Total sales from www.amazon.com $XXX.79
Please note the following:
- The total sales represent all orders that were shipped to South Carolina during 2011.
- Your purchases are subject to use tax unless an exemption exists under state law or you have already paid the tax.
- A sale is not exempt under state law because it is made through the internet.
- This information should not be used for any federal income tax reporting purposes.
- We are required to provide this notice in accordance with South Carolina law Section 12-36-2691(E)(3).
- Notifications were sent to customers that had purchases delivered to South Carolina. If you are not a resident of South Carolina, the most common reason for receiving this notification is that you may have sent a gift to a recipient in the state.
In addition, the South Carolina Department of Revenue requires us to provide you with the following links that you can use to get more information and pay any taxes due:
How Do I Pay my Bill: http://www.sctax.org/Tax+Information/Sales+and+Use+Tax/use_tax/UseTax+Payment.htm
For more information you may also view our South Carolina Use Tax Notification Page at: