Let's Call it the Kozlowski Tax
By Amy Feldman

(MONEY Magazine) – Former Tyco chief Dennis Kozlowski first landed in court over his alleged failure to pay New York State taxes on artwork that was falsely claimed to have been shipped out of state. You may think this has nothing to do with you, but a growing number of states would like it to. Local lawmakers are scratching for any little thing to help close their budget gaps--and your untaxed Internet purchases are high on their lists.

Taxpayers in the 45 states (plus Washington, D.C.) with sales taxes have long been technically required to pony up on out-of-state purchases (called "use taxes"), but few of us ever gave it a thought. But this tax season, in a controversial move, New York has added a use-tax line to its income tax forms--line 56--and, no, you can't leave it blank. (The state offers a table of what people at various incomes should ante up in sales tax if they lack documentation of their Internet purchases: $43, for instance, if your '03 income is between $75,001 and $100,000.)

New York isn't alone; 20 other states, including California, New Jersey, Ohio and South Carolina, now require taxpayers to deal with this issue, says John Logan of tax publisher CCH. More will likely follow. "It is something of a trend," he says. Caveat taxpayer. --AMY FELDMAN