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Today, Optima Tax Relief’s Lead Tax Attorney, Phil Hwang, discusses state taxes and collections, including how they differ from federal taxes and collections. 

State tax collections and federal tax collections are two distinct systems of revenue collection within the United States. Here are some key differences between them. 

Authority and Jurisdiction 

States have the authority to collect taxes within their own jurisdiction. Each state can set its tax rates and determine what types of taxes it levies. These can include income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, excise taxes, and others. The federal government collects taxes nationwide and has authority over issues that affect the entire country, such as income taxes, corporate taxes, Medicare taxes, and more. 

Tax Rates and Structures 

States have the flexibility to set their own tax rates and structures, which can vary significantly between states. Some states may have high income taxes but no sales tax, while others may have the opposite. Federal tax rates, on the other hand, are determined by the U.S. government and are the same across the entire country, with variations based on income levels and filing status. 

Use of Revenue 

The revenue collected by states is primarily used to fund state-specific programs and services, such as education, healthcare, infrastructure, and public safety. Each state decides how it allocates its revenue. Federal tax revenue is used to fund programs and services that benefit the entire nation, such as defense, social security, healthcare (e.g., Medicare and Medicaid), infrastructure projects, and federal agencies’ operations. 

Collections, Enforcement, and Audits 

State revenue agencies or departments, such as the Department of Revenue, are responsible for collecting state taxes. In addition, state tax authorities enforce and audit state tax compliance. Penalties for non-compliance vary by state. For example, if you owe more than $100,000 in the state of California, the state can have your business license or driver’s license suspended, as well as cease any operations they have with your business. 

At the federal level, collections are done by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS is responsible for enforcing federal tax laws and conducting audits for federal tax returns. Federal penalties can apply for non-compliance with federal tax laws.  

Don’t miss next week’s episode where Phil will discuss IRS online accounts. See you next Friday!  

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