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Illinois to online, out-of-state shoppers: Pay up

(via Flickr/Rob Lee)

Illinois tax collectors have a message for residents who skirt sales taxes online and out of state: Start paying up.

The cash-strapped state will step up enforcement this year of the decades-old "use tax," which applies to many items bought online or in another state.

The state offers a guide to taxpayers who didn't keep receipts and want to pay their share. Someone making $50,000 annually, for example, would be expected to pay $27 in "use tax."

Revenue Department spokeswoman Susan Hofer says auditors are most interested in collecting from people who buy boats and other "big ticket" items elsewhere without paying taxes.

Hofer says people who buy smaller items online without paying taxes will have to live with their own conscience.