Use Tax

A use tax refers to a state tax to compensate for the sales tax which is lost when someone buys something outside their state, however they actually use that purchased item in their state.

Additional Sources

A charge imposed on the use or possession of personal property.

Governments employ use taxes to accomplish two purposes. A use tax may be imposed to prevent someone from evading a sales tax by buying goods in a nontaxing state and shipping them into the state that imposes the sales tax. Use taxes are also used to help defray the cost of public services associated with particular types of personal property.

States and municipalities impose use taxes on purchases or rentals that are made outside the taxing jurisdiction but would have been taxable had they taken place within it. Such transactions escape the normal sales tax collection because retailers outside the state or municipality are not required to collect the sales tax. The use tax protects retailers located in the state or municipality because it removes the incentive for consumers to shop outside that locality in order to avoid paying the sales tax. For example, suppose a person buys a car from a dealer in a nearby state that does not impose a sales tax. The buyer must pay use tax on the purchase price when he returns to his state or city.


A tax imposed on the use of personal property and esp. property purchased in another state. Dictionary

n. a state tax on goods purchased in another state for use in the taxing state, to make up for local sales tax. Example: Bill Buyer, who lives in California (which has a sales tax), orders a freezer from a company in a state with no sales tax. California will attempt to charge a "use" tax equivalent to its sales tax.


A use tax is a type of excise tax levied in the United States. It is assessed upon otherwise "tax free" tangible personal property purchased by a resident of the assessing state for use, storage or consumption of goods in that state (not for resale), regardless of where the purchase took place. The use tax is typically assessed at the same rate as the sales tax that would have been owed (if any) had the same goods been purchased in the state of residence. Use tax applies when sales tax has not been charged. Purchases made over the Internet and out-of-state are the most common type of transactions subject to a use tax.