By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) – Saying it’s a matter of fairness, the state Secretary of Revenue is defending the effort to collect unpaid sales taxes owed by Pennsylvania residents on purchases made via the Internet or from other out-of-state retailers. The secretary was questioned about the effort as budget hearings continue.

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This year, there is a line on Pennsylvania income tax forms asking people to declare “use taxes”… or unpaid sales taxes on items from so-called “remote sellers”. Republican Senator Mary Jo White says it may come as a surprise to some.

“When you now collect a tax that has never been collected before, the public perception is it’s a new tax.”

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White asked Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser what residents can do if they haven’t kept track of their Internet purchases. Meuser says there is a separate form along with the PA 40 that will give guidance for people to estimate their use tax.

“And we did this based upon their incomes.”

He says on the electronic tax form, you will not be able to leave the use tax line blank, though you can enter zero. And he says Philadelphia and Allegheny County residents will be expected to pay their local sales tax rates of 8-percent and 7-percent, respectively.

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