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Cyber Monday Calls Attention To Maryland's Little-Paid 'Use Tax'

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Today is "Cyber Monday," a day in which online retailers try to mirror some of the same deals offered by brick-and-mortar stores on Black Friday. But a seldom-used law in Maryland could mean some area residents are breaking the law everytime they purchase online. The issue involves a rarely enforced tax called a 'use tax.'

The law requires online shoppers who live in Maryland to pay a 6 percent fee to the state on any goods purchased online which are not taxed by the internet merchant. Online buyers are supposed to file and pay the sales tax for the year on Jan. 21, 2013, but 95 percent of residents don't, and many aren't aware of it.

State Comptroller Peter Franchot acknowledges there is a problem with the law between the online consumer's lack of knowledge about the use tax and the state's inability to apply it, Franchot tells Patch. He's not confortable with the statute and for now won't enforce it, Franchot says.

The lost revenue to the state of Maryland from unpaid use tax amounts to about $200 million a year, according to a report from Patch.

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