The State of Illinois Has Really Done It This Time

Prairie Gleanings

Do you think the state of Illinois deserves a donation disguised as a sales tax ploy?

Published on: February 9, 2011
A lot of my Missouri relatives enjoy razzing me about Illinois’ state of financial distress. They poked fun when the state increased our income tax.

“Whatever,” I said. “At least we don’t pay outrageous annual sums in personal property tax to register our cars.”

Today, I’m ready to move to Missouri. Sitting in my tax preparer’s office, I was completely stupefied when she asked if I would like to disclose any large purchases via the internet that should have been subjected to Illinois sales tax.

“What?” I asked. She explained that due to the state’s dire financial situation tax preparers are required to ask this question in an attempt to collect more revenue for the state. So, basically, they want a donation? Yep.

I was not in a giving mood. But, even if I were, how in the world am I supposed to be accountable for keeping track of online retailers’ sales tax guidelines? When I purchase something at the store, I’ve never thought about haranguing the cashier to verify that I paid my dues to the state of Illinois. However, this is now my responsibility if I shop online?

Here’s one for the state brainiacs that thought this one up: from an internet connection at my sister’s house in the state of Missouri, what if I use a credit card for a bank located in Maine to purchase a gift for her to be delivered at her house from a company located in Colorado? Do I still need to pay Illinois sales tax because I’m a citizen of the state, even though none of said transaction even involved the state of Illinois?

As I pondered the tax preparer’s question, I asked her what other clients have done. She said 95% have chosen not to disclose any internet transactions where the state should have received a cut.

I guess there is a chance that this is not simply a case of the state sticking its hand out. Perhaps folks will be audited as a result of not disclosing anything. In that situation, I’ll bet a young gun Chicago attorney will toss a class action suit together and sue the state for more money than they ever hoped to collect with this hare-brained scheme.

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