North Carolina use tax is due by individuals and businesses on tangible personal property and certain digital property purchased, leased or rented inside or outside this State for storage, use, or consumption in North Carolina. Use tax is also due on taxable services sourced to North Carolina. Individuals and businesses must pay use tax to the Department when retailers or facilitators do not collect sales or use tax on taxable transactions.
Retailers or facilitators that are not "engaged in business" in this State are not required to collect North Carolina sales and use tax. Some out-of-state retailers or facilitators voluntarily collect North Carolina use tax as a convenience to their customers. Retailers or facilitators that are not "engaged in business" may include mail-order companies, television shopping networks, and firms selling over the internet.
Common items on which sales and use tax may not have been collected and where use tax may be due by the purchaser include, but are not limited to:
- Tangible personal property including, but not limited to:
- Computers and other electronic equipment;
- Home furnishings;
- Sporting goods;
- Audio compact discs (CDs), tapes, and records.
- Digital property, which includes the following when delivered or accessed electronically:
- An audio work. Examples include, but are not limited to, ringtones, digital music, readings of books or other written materials, speeches, and other sound recordings.
- An audio visual work. Examples include, but are not limited to, movies, motion pictures, musical videos, news and entertainment programs, and live events.
- A book, magazine, newspaper, newsletter, report, or another publication.
- A photograph or a greeting card.
- Prewritten software including electronic downloads of software.
- Purchases of or recharges of prepaid telephone calling cards and phones.
- Service contracts to maintain or repair tangible personal property or a motor vehicle.
- Admission tickets to an entertainment activity purchased outside the State where admission to the activity may be gained in the State.
- An individual required to file Form D-400, North Carolina Individual Income Tax Return, must report the use tax liability on non-business purchases of taxable items, other than a boat, an aircraft, and food subject to the reduced rate of tax, on the individual's income tax return.
- An individual not required to file Form D-400, North Carolina Individual Income Tax Return, must report the use tax liability on taxable purchases other than a boat or an aircraft, on Form E-554, Consumer Use Tax Return.
- Any individual who purchases food subject to the reduced rate of tax must report the 2% tax on Form E-554, Consumer Use Tax Return.
- An individual who purchases a boat or an aircraft must report the tax on Form E-555, Boat and Aircraft Use Tax Return.
- A business must report use tax on the applicable form. Generally, a business will report and remit use tax on Form E-500, Sales and Use Tax Return, or through the Department's online filing and payment system. For a business that is not registered with the Department to remit sales and use tax, register online using the online business registration portal.
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