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Columnist, Sheila 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, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

    To carry her weekly column in your newspaper, or to republish an article, please contact her. It's that easy. 

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Taxing Experience....

A Taxing Experience

Perhaps 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 of Tennessee.

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 passed.

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 this: LLC is not required to collect sales or use taxes in Tennessee. However, you may owe use tax on purchases you made from 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 tax return.

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 taxes.

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 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

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