What is use tax?

“Use tax” is a tax imposed on the privilege of using, in Illinois, any item of tangible personal property that is purchased anywhere at retail. Generally, the tax is designed to distribute the tax burden fairly among Illinois consumers and to ensure fair competition between Illinois and out-of-state businesses. Use tax is due when you purchase merchandise that you will use in Illinois from a person or business that did not collect Illinois sales tax (e.g., sales from catalogs, magazines, infomercials, the Internet). This tax applies to individuals, businesses, and organizations.  This liability may result in the following instances:

  • an Illinois consumer purchases tangible personal property at retail from an out-of-state, unregistered retailer for use in Illinois and that retailer does not collect the tax; or
  • an Illinois business withdraws tangible personal property from its sales inventories for its own use. In this instance, at the time the item was purchased, the business would not have paid tax to the vendor because it purchased the items for resale purposes.

Individuals should report use tax on Form ST-44, Illinois Use Tax Return. An individual also may use Form IL-1040, Individual Income Tax Return, to report use tax along with his or her income tax liability, provided the individual's annual use tax liability is $600 or less. A businesses also can file Form ST-44 to report its use tax, unless the business is registered to file and pay sales and use tax using Form ST-1, Sales and Use Tax and E911 Surcharge Return. For information on reporting use tax, including information on reporting use tax on purchases of items of tangible personal property that must be titled or registered with an agency of Illinois government (i.e., motor vehicles, motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, watercraft, aircraft, trailers, and mobile homes), see our Sales and Use Tax information page.  See also Question 128, "What is the relationship between sales and use tax in Illinois?".

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