Raleigh, NC - When it comes to online shopping, most people check the price, certainly the discounts, but what about the sales tax?
The North Carolina Department of Revenue estimates it will lose nearly $214 million in lost sales tax because of online purchases.
Websites like Amazon and eBay don't charge sales tax in certain states, including North Carolina.
A popular iPad, for example, lists for $729 at a big box store, where customers can expect to pay $49.10 in state and local sales tax at checkout.
But customers who purchase the same item online will save the tax dollars. Multiplied by millions of households statewide, and the dollars add up to millions.
State law requires retailers who have a brick and mortar store in our state, like Target or Best Buy, to collect sales tax online. Stores that don't have locations in North Carolina aren't required to collect the tax.
"If you're buying something online and sales tax is not added to your final total, you are actually supposed to report that on your yearly tax return you turn in every April," explained Beth Stevenson, NC Department of Revenue.
When you file your yearly taxes, there is a section for "Consumer Use Tax." That is where you add your untaxed purchases online. Accountants suggest keeping your receipts to make filing easier.
If you don't file, there isn't a good way to track it but Stevenson says you could be audited.
"Kind of our basic goal here is to make sure everyone is aware of their obligations and paying their fair share," explains Stevenson.
Congress is aware of that states are having a difficult time collecting online sales tax and are considering a bill that would establish a national sales tax standard for online purchases.
WRAL, WFMY News 2