The Case for Consumer-Based Use Tax Enforcement

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This essay argues that state governments’ current focus on getting vendors to collect their sales and use taxes is insufficient, especially in regard to e-commerce transactions. If state governments want their use taxes to serve as effective and lawful backstops to their sales taxes—as state governments claim is their goal—then states must also focus on the consumer side of the use-tax equation. This essay explains that both economic and rule of law considerations make it imperative for state governments to better enforce their sales and use taxes with respect to consumer taxpayers.