The 2017 Michigan Use Tax
The Michigan use tax is a special excise tax assessed on property purchased for use in Michigan in a jurisdiction where a lower (or no) sales tax was collected on the purchase.
The Michigan use tax should be paid for items bought tax-free over the internet, bought while traveling, or transported into Michigan from a state with a lower sales tax rate.
The Michigan use tax rate is 6%, the same as the regular Michigan sales tax. Including local taxes, the Michigan use tax can be as high as 0.000%.
What exactly is the Michigan use tax?
The Michigan Use Tax is a little-known tax that complements the regular Michigan sales tax to ensure that purchases made outside of Michigan are not exempt from the Michigan sales tax.
Instead of taxing the sale of tangible property which takes place outside of Michigan's jurisdiction (and thus cannot be taxed), the Michigan Use Tax taxes the use or consumption of tangible property bought in other jurisdictions with a lower sales tax rate and brought back into Michigan.
How Do I Calculate How Much Use Tax I Owe?
If you made any purchases online or outside of Michigan for which you paid less then Michigan's 6% in sales tax, you are responsible for paying Michigan a use tax on those purchases equal to 6% of the total purchase price less any sales taxes already paid to other jurisductions.
Example 1: If $100 worth of books is purchased from an online retailer and no sales tax is collected, the buyer would become liable to pay Michigan a total of $100 × 6% = $6.00 in use tax.
Example 2: If a $10,000 boat is purchased tax-free and then brought into a jurisdiction with a 4% sales tax rate, the buyer would become liable to pay Michigan a total of (6% - 4%) × $10,000 = $600.00 in use tax.
Example 3: If $1,000 worth of goods are purchased in a jurisdiction with a 7% sales tax rate, no use tax is owed to Michigan because the foreign jurisdiction's sales tax rate is greater then or equal to Michigan's 6% sales tax.
How do I pay the Michigan use tax?
In many states, an optional field for remitting use tax is included in the state income tax return. A use tax return form may also be available on the Michigan Department of Revenue website for calculating and paying use tax.Above: Example use tax field on a state income tax return
Use tax is a self-assessed tax with a very low public awareness rate, and as a result states have a very hard time enforcing use tax compliance. Only about 1.6% of taxpayers pay use tax each year, remitting an average of $69 in use taxes on total purchases averaging $929. 
Government studies have shown that a large percentage of use tax payments are made as the result of an audit or under the threat of an audit. If unpaid use tax is discovered by a Michigan tax audit, significant underpayment fees and interest may apply.
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