YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - The state of Ohio could be missing out on millions of unpaid sales taxes.
The holiday shopping season is in full swing and as more and more shoppers click and flip their way to good deals, the Ohio Department of Taxation reminds shoppers that if you buy something online or from a catalog store that is not physically based in Ohio, even though by law they do not have to charge a sales tax, that doesn't mean you still don't owe it.
A study made by the Department of Taxation estimates the state loses out on about $350 million a year because people either don't realize it's the law to claim the tax, or they shop out of state vendors to avoid it and save; an issue the Department of Taxation says is hard to track, and a loop hole in the playing field that's hurting local business.
"I think the playing field needs to be level. I think this is something we really need to ask our politicians to step up to the plate," said Patricia Gallo, owner of The Sound Shop in Canfield.
Currently a bill is in Congress that aims to make it easier for the state to collect the tax, however while both Republicans and Democrats agree something needs to be done, it's not clear what exactly that solution is.
"One thing I am concerned about is that we don't add more burdens and paper work," said U.S. Senator Rob Portman. "So it's got to be simple and it's got to be standardized and uniformed."
"However we get there so that those stores that are in the community, that sponsor the little league teams and pay the property taxes, that those are not in a financial disadvantage because of the sales tax," said U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown.
In the mean time, to make it easier for consumers to keep track of untaxed purchases and comply with the law, the Department of Taxation has added a calculator to its web site, tax.ohio.gov, that determines how much tax is due on an untaxed item.