If you get an email from the “IRS,” it is probably “phishing” for your personal information. The IRS won’t even receive an email from me after I’ve made contact with a Revenue Officer or Revenue Agent—they don’t consider email to be secure enough to communicate about a taxpayer’s information.
The California State Board of Equalization DOES send letters out asking for people who don’t think they have a sales tax issue to file online and report any “use tax” for things purchased out of state that you are the “end user” of. It’s like if you purchase books from Amazon.com, you don’t pay sales tax because they ALWAYS ship from out of state—I know, because when someone orders my physical book from Amazon in San Leandro, I ship a book to Kentucky, and they ship it back to San Leandro from “out of state” so they don’t have to deal with sales tax. Admittedly, California sales tax is quite messy—rates changing mid-year and different rates apply depending on the CITY of the recipient—hard to program into a website.
The BOE has been sending delinquent filing letters to companies who need to file a Use Tax return. If you get one of these, it’s probably legitimate—if you have questions, fax me a copy and I can confirm “it’s real” for you. If you need help filling out the filings, I can help with that too. You’ll need to assemble the information about any out-of-state purchases—like things bought from Amazon, or if you’re “retailing,” we’ll have to talk.
I originally wrote about this issue of the BOE in November 2009 when they first announced they would be sending these out. For a more extensive discussion, please go to www.taxbuddha.com/newsletter/newsletter_2009_11.html