According to this article on the Morning Call, next year Pennsylvania’s state income tax forms will include a line for reporting sales tax due on online purchases. In past years, Pennsylvania residents had to use a separate form to calculate and report the sales tax due on their online purchases.
The article describes the reaction of a Pennsylvania resident to the news that she’s responsible for calculating and submitting the sales tax due on her online purchases:
Coplay resident Nereida Troxell said her husband often complains that some Internet sites collect sales tax while others don’t. She had no idea it’s up to the consumer to pay the tax when it’s not collected. Leaning on the customer to track that every time they buy a book or jar of vitamins online so they can pay it at the end of the year doesn’t seem fair, she said.
“That’s messed up,” Troxell said. “No, it doesn’t make sense at all.”
We agree. Doesn’t it make more sense for sales tax to be collected at the point of sale, whether you’re shopping online or in a bricks-and-mortar store?
The article also quotes a small business owner in Pennsylvania on the problems of the current sales tax collection rules:
“Any business on a main street in the country has been fighting [the inequity],” said Dana DeVito, general manager of the Moravian Book Shop. “It absolutely hurts a small business: bricks and mortar and our Internet sales as well.”
The Moravian Book Shop has an online bookstore, but when Pennsylvania residents buy books online, they have to pay a 6 percent sales tax. Residents of other states aren’t charged sales tax because the Moravian Book Shop has no physical presence outside Pennsylvania.
The entire article is well worth reading. It offers a good outline of the current online sales tax situation and how it’s affecting states.