Government Has Probably Made You A Tax Cheat

'When there aren't enough criminals, one makes them'

Michigan law requires residents who buy goods from a merchant to pay a tax of 6 percent. The merchant who is based in Michigan collects the tax and sends it to the state. But for purchases made from merchants not in Michigan — which includes most online transactions — customers are supposed to add that amount to their income tax returns. (This rule does not apply if the out-of-state merchant collects Michigan sales tax. Most do not.)

According to the Michigan Department of Treasury, there were 4,514,771 personal income tax returns filed with the state in 2012, the most recent year data is available. Of those, just 110,597 included taxes due on out-of-state purchases, for a total of $5.8 million, or about $52.67 for each return.

ForTheRecord says: Mintel, a company that researches marketing trends, published a 2015 online shopping poll that says as many as 90 percent of Americans have purchased at least one item online per year. Yet only 2.4 percent of the state's personal income tax returns recognized an obligation for taxes due on catalog or online purchases.

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