I was hoping someone could settle a moral quandary that has come up in my life recently. I'm a young person, in my early 20s, still in college, and I have had summer jobs and such, and I am recently becoming acquainted with intricacies of the tax law that I was previously ignorant of. I have never personally done my taxes, that is something my parents have aided me with by using their accountant to take care of what I owe based off of my summer work. But I've been completely honest in this regard for as long as I've been working.
I have recently learned that my state imposes a "use tax" where if you purchase things out of state and sales tax is not collected (even over the internet) then you have to pay a "use tax" and since this can be complicated for you to calculate, my state offers estimates you can take advantage of and it only amounts to $8 a year (for 2013 at least) in my income bracket. Having just found this out it has occurred to me that I should have paid this tax for the past 3 years at least as well. So I'm basically wondering what I have to do in this regard, I intend to pay it this year since tax season is not over yet, but what about the previous years? Should I just let it go? I personally don't even have access to the documents I would need to report these back use taxes, and obtaining them would most likely require putting a family friend (the accountant) through a great deal of trouble on my behalf (he does our taxes for free) to pour over my information for a sum of money that is rather insignificant.
Moreover, even if I did have the documents and was able to report these back taxes, I may very well be hit with penalties for who knows how much. And to me, this would be extremely unfair especially considering this is a tax that basically no one pays (not saying it's right, but it would be unfair to punish the one person who tries to be honest while letting others off the hook) and it is something I was legitimately ignorant of, I don't know how the state government can expect a teenager to know these minute intricacies of the tax code who is now in his early 20s and still in school. But then again, the saying "ignorance of the law is no excuse" comes to mind.
This wouldn't be such a big issue in my mind, except that I've been taught that we have a moral obligation to obey the civil law, and if I don't report these back taxes am I not in a perpetual state of breaking the law for as long as I do not comply with it? :shrug: But on the other hand, is there a moral/legal obligation to correct what these things amount to, which are honest mistakes? I don't know and was hoping for some answers.