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Find the sales tax rates and requirements for your business

There are thousands of sales tax rates, requirements, and payment rules in the various tax districts (cities, counties, and states) of the United States. Setting up sales tax with the correct rates and requirements will make it easier to fill out your sales tax forms when it comes time to remit (pay) your sales tax.
Example of a partial sales tax remittance form

Use this check list to find the information you need to set up sales tax for your business.

  • Check to see whether your state has sales tax. Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon do not charge sales tax. Also, some states have taxes that differ from sales tax. For example, New Mexico has a "gross receipts" tax where the business owner is responsible for paying tax to the state on all transactions, rather than on items sold. Some other states have a "use tax" or "general excise tax" rather than a sales tax (or in addition to a sales tax). These other types of taxes cannot be set up with the QuickBooks sales tax feature.

  • Most states require you to have a sales license, a seller's permit, or some document that allows you to sell products or services in your state. In many states, there is a number on the document, such as a sales license number, which is used as the account number for paying sales tax. It can sometimes take two to three weeks to get a sales license or permit.

  • Determine if you need to charge a single sales tax rate or if there are several sales tax rates that you need to charge (for several tax districts in your sales area). For example, if you have one store in a location where only a state sales tax applies (no city or county sales tax), you only need to charge the state sales tax rate. However, if you sell your products in several different cities or counties around your state, you may need to charge different sales tax rates for the different locations. This is because each city or county tax district may have its own sales tax, in addition to any state sales tax you may already need to charge. Knowing this information will help you determine the type of sales tax items you need to set up.

  • Check whether your state requires you to charge sales tax according to where the product is shipped or sold. This is called a destination-based sales tax.

  • You need the name of your tax agency (sometimes referred to as the tax authority) so that you can set it up as a vendor for paying the sales tax. If you charge multiple sales tax rates, you may pay all of the sales tax to one tax agency, or you may need to pay a different tax agency for each one.

  • Find out if your state wants you to charge your sales tax based on an accrual basis (when you make the sale) or cash basis (when you actually receive payment for the sale). Regardless of how you've set up your company for financial and tax purposes, your tax agency determines the basis for your sales tax payments.

  • Find out how often you need to make your sales tax payments so you can set up your payment schedule in the QuickBooks Sales Tax Preferences.

  • Check for downloadable payment forms and online payment options. Several states are now requiring businesses to make their payments online.

Each tax district (a town, city, county, or state that charges sales tax) may have its own rules and regulations for collecting and paying sales tax. For example, you might have a cap on sales tax, where you charge sales tax only up to a certain amount, such as $5000. Or, you might have regulations that require you to pay your sales tax to the tax agency every quarter.

Important: We recommend that you talk with your accountant for assistance in setting up sales tax for your specific business needs. If you don't have an accountant, Intuit can help you find one.

See also

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