Frequently Asked Questions About Use Tax
The use tax is a tax due on purchases, leases, and rentals of tangible personal property and certain digital property purchased, leased or rented inside or outside this State for storage, use, or consumption in North Carolina. The use tax is also due on taxable services sourced to North Carolina. The use tax is paid to the North Carolina Department of Revenue by the purchaser when the North Carolina tax has not been collected by the retailer.
The use tax is calculated at the same rate as the sales tax.
Tangible personal property and certain digital property purchased, leased or rented which are subject to the sales tax are also subject to the use tax. Some examples include: books, ringtones, digital music, cassettes, compact discs, computers, electronic equipment, clothing, jewelry, canned software, sporting goods, audio and video tapes, appliances, and furniture and other home furnishings, whether purchased by mail order, catalog, shopping networks, or on the internet.
Admission tickets purchased to an entertainment activity purchased outside the State where admission to the activity may be gained in the State are also subject to the use tax.
If the retailer is located out-of-state and is not engaged in business in the State, the State cannot require the retailer to collect North Carolina's tax. However, some out-of-state retailers voluntarily collect the North Carolina tax as a convenience to their customers.
The use tax was enacted in 1939. The Department has included use tax reporting requirements in the instructions of the Individual Income Tax Form Booklets since 1990. Businesses must register to report and remit use tax due on items purchased for storage use, or consumption in their businesses in the State.
The Department compared the information used in other states and made adjustments for the Total General State, Local and Transit Rates.
If an individual maintained a record of all purchases during the income tax year from out-of-state retailers, use the worksheet in the Individual Income Tax Instructions for Form D-400 for the applicable tax year to compute the use tax liability due on purchases on which sales or use tax was not paid to the retailer at the time of purchase. If an individual did not maintain a record of all purchases during the income tax year from out-of-state retailers, use the worksheet in the Individual Income Tax Instructions for Form D-400 for the applicable year to determine the amount of use tax due. If an individual believes the use tax estimate from the use tax table is too high for the out-of-state purchases, a reasonable estimate of the amount of use tax due may be used by the individual.
An individual should only use the Use Tax Table if the amount of purchases subject to use tax is unknown; therefore, pay the calculated amount of use tax due.
A person will not automatically receive a bill for use tax if an amount for use tax is not reported due. If the Department discovers through other means that a person owes use tax on purchases, the person will be assessed tax plus penalties and interest. In addition, a person may be selected for audit by the Department.
If the items are purchased for storage, use, or consumption in North Carolina, they are subject to the North Carolina use tax no matter the items are delivered to the purchaser or the purchaser's designee in another state or shipped to North Carolina. If another state's sales or use tax was paid on the out-of-state purchases, credit for the tax paid is allowed against the North Carolina use tax due. You may not claim a credit for sales tax or value-added tax (VAT) paid to another country.
All shipping and handling, transportation, and delivery charges imposed by the retailer that are in any way connected with the sale of tangible personal property, certain digital property, and certain services for storage, use, consumption or otherwise sourced to the State, are subject to the North Carolina use tax.
ITFA prohibited new taxes on internet access fees and multiple or discriminatory taxes. North Carolina does not tax Internet access fees. In addition, the use tax is not a multiple or discriminatory tax since it applies to all transactions (mail order, internet, out-of-state, home shopping) and taxes goods purchased outside the State in the same manner as goods purchased in the State.
- File and Pay Taxes
- Find Tax FAQs
- Find Tax Information
- Pay a Bill or Notice
- Request an Installment Agreement
- Understand My Notice
- Collections – Past Due Taxes
- Periodic Review of Existing Rules
- Reports and Statistics
- Resolving Disputes
- Identity Theft
- Individual Income Tax Estimator
- Individual Income Tax Rates
- Sales and Use Tax Rates
- Taxpayer Advocate
- Taxpayer Self-Help