Moss, is humor writer from Tennessee. She writes a
weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny
things that happen to everyone.
She has written for the Daily News of Kingsport, Griffin Journal,
Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton
Advocate, and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News
Journal. She has been
published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks
at Guidepost Books. Her articles have appeared in
numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.
She is a
former board member and past Editor of the Columnists.com, website of the National Society of Newspaper
oldest and largest professional organization
for columnists. She is the Web Editor of
Humorists.com and a founder of the Southern Humorists writers'
organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of HumorColumnist.com.
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Online Since 1999
A Taxing Experience
you have heard the old saying that nothing can be certain
except death and taxes.
Here it is, not even the end of January and tax collectors are
coming around already. It seems that I owe taxes to the state
The great state of Tennessee has no income taxes. The
"honkers" take care of that. Every time anyone dares
suggest a state income tax, the tax opponents turn out in
force to circle the state capitol building and honk car horns
to express their displeasure. Legislators yield to the
pressure of a vocal minority and no state income tax law is
As a result, the state never has enough money and must think
of other creative ways to collect revenue.
Due to lack of an income tax, Tennessee has one of the highest
sales tax rates in the nation. Unfortunately, imposing sales
tax does not work too well as people simply go online and buy
from places like Amazon that do not collect sales taxes.
Imagine my surprise this week when I received an email from
Amazon regarding my taxes. In short, it went something like
Amazon.com LLC is not required to collect sales or use taxes
in Tennessee. However, you may owe use tax on purchases you
made from Amazon.com LLC during the previous calendar year.
The total sales price of purchases you had in 2012 was $12.64.
This is the amount that you may include on your Tennessee use
I don't believe I have ever paid a use tax. In fact, I'm not
even sure what it is. I hope this doesn't mean that I need to
pack my toothbrush and plan on going to jail for tax. Maybe I
need to circle the capitol and honk my car horn. The Tennessee
Dept of Revenue must stay up nights thinking of ways to
collect taxes without having it seem like they are collecting
Tennessee taxes the "use" of property that is
brought into the state untaxed when purchased. The local use
tax rate on purchases or downloads of digital videos, digital
books, and digital music, as defined by law is 2.50%
regardless of the actual local tax rate in effect in the
jurisdiction of the user and consumer.
Let me see, 2.50% of $12.64 is how much, about 32 cents if I
round up? They want me to file a tax return for 32 cents? Last
year my CPA charged over $300 to do my Federal Income Tax
return. I'm not sure I can afford to file a tax return for a
32 cent debt.
Actually, they make it easy for people like me. You pay
online. Wonder if they charge themselves a use tax for
conducting e-commerce. No, of course not. The state is exempt
from taxes. After all, what's the point of paying yourself? In
this case, it seems to me that it would cost more to process
the tax than the amount collected.
"Enter a description of the purchase, price of purchase,
and the date of purchase. Enter payment information via ACH
debit or Credit Card." Can I charge 32 cents on a credit
card? If you pay by credit card, they charge a fee of 2.49%.
I'm not sure if the fee is on the tax amount or the purchase
amount. Using a credit card could double the amount I owe.
Maybe I should give them a break, pay an entire dollar and
say, "Keep the change."
Of course, they didn't give me a break, did they?
The notice from Amazon says, "While Amazon.com LLC does
not report this information directly to the state of Tennessee
we are required to provide this information to you." The
notice has no name on it. Why do I have a feeling most people
are going to ignore this email and pretend it never came?
I sure hope my 32 cents will balance the budget.
Copyright 2013 Sheila Moss
Nashville, TN 37219
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