California’s State Board of Equalization administers the sales and use tax law, under which traditional sales tax is applied to purchases of tangible personal property (in other words, stuff, but not real estate or services) in California.  As in most states, the “use” tax law is meant to capture a tax on items purchased out of state for use in California.  Historically, sales tax is collected by the seller at point of sale, making compliance relatively easy; while use tax collection by out-of-state suppliers is much less common.  New California Revenue & Tax Code Section 6225 aims to change that by requiring all persons, including businesses and nonprofit organizations, in California which receive at least $100,000 in gross receipts from business operations per calendar year, to affirmatively register with SBE (on Form 404-A, registration due by April 15, 2010).  Such registration brings one into the annual SBE tax filing and payment cycle, and the SBE has concurrently announced its expectation that new filers must also disclose and pay tax on the two preceding years of use-taxable purposes.  Note that this enforcement effort has not so much to do with the separate, hot topic of states forcing online sellers such as Amazon and eBay to collect and pay state sales and use taxes on out-of-state deliveries, and instead is an administrative tool to raise additional tax revenues and compliance from business buyers, under existing use tax liability law.

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