Nowadays, it’s easy for online businesses to sell their products to customers all over the world. E-commerce has made it convenient to grow your business by reaching a large number of customers online. While it’s easier to reach customers online, selling into a new country can lead to added complexity.
The U.S. market is considered the world’s most lucrative consumer market so it’s not a surprise that everybody wants a piece of the pie. But with this delicious piece of pie comes a side of complexity, Sales tax! If you sell to customers in the United States, you need to comply with sales tax laws in the states where you meet the economic nexus thresholds. These threshold limits, sales tax rates & laws vary by state and by product so it’s important to do your sales tax homework or ask a tax advisor to stay tax compliant.
Why do I need to collect sales tax when I sell online?
As of June 21, 2018, when the Supreme Court of the United States overruled the physical presence rule in South Dakota versus Wayfair, Inc. They decided that businesses could create sufficient nexus through their “economic and virtual contacts” with a state and they found that having the physical nexus rule as “incorrect & unsound” as the only nexus criteria. Therefore, although having a physical presence in a state still establishes nexus, a sales tax collection obligation can now be based solely on a remote seller’s economic activity in the state. Due to this ruling, almost all states that impose sales tax, have now implemented Economic nexus laws as well.
5 Steps to eCommerce Sales Tax Compliance
1. Determine where you have sales tax nexus.
Economic nexus regulations are often based on the volume of sales or transactions made by a remote seller over a particular time period, usually the current or previous calendar year. (or the last 12 months)
In California, for example, economic nexus is triggered when a remote seller has more than $500,000 in combined sales of tangible personal property for delivery into the state in the current or preceding calendar year.
In Maryland, for example, the economic nexus is triggered by $100,000 in sales or 200 transactions. It is important to check the current rules for each state you are selling to, to determine if you have reached the economic nexus threshold for that state.
2. Check if your products are subject to sales tax.
You will need to know if your products are taxable or nontaxable in the state. It’s important to remember that every state may have different rules on how they tax items and if the nontaxable sales also count towards the economic nexus threshold.
3. Registering for a sales tax permit
You must register with the tax authority and get a sales tax permit once you determined that you have nexus with a certain state. This must be done before collecting sales tax from anyone in the state. Therefore, it’s important to track your sales to every state to be aware of when you reached the economic threshold.
4. Set up sales tax collection on your online webshop.
Managing sales tax manually is time-consuming and it’s very easy to make errors due to the different tax rates in each locality. We recommend a cloud-based sales tax solution that integrates with your webshop to lower the workload & errors.
5. Charge, Collect, Report, File & Pay.
Once everything is registered & set up. You will begin charging sales tax on your products and collect sales tax. The state tax authority decides the filing frequency depending on your sales volume to the state. (Filing frequency is often monthly or quarterly)
It’s important to stay sales tax compliant by filing & paying your sales tax returns on time. Ignoring or forgetting to file sales tax returns can lead to high late filing penalties & interest fees.
If you are selling into the United States and you have questions about sales tax or if you have any other tax-related questions, do not hesitate to contact us at Westmusa, Inc.
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