Do you need to collect sales tax?

by | Jul 3, 2023 | Retail, Tax

Rocket takes off - Sales Tax Start Up

As a business owner, understanding your sales tax obligations is crucial to ensure compliance with the law and avoid penalties. In this article, we will discuss the factors that determine whether you need to collect taxes and provide guidance on navigating the complex world of its regulations.

What is the Sales Tax?

It is a consumption tax imposed on the sale of goods and certain services. It is typically collected by the seller and remitted to the appropriate tax authority, which can be the state, county, or local jurisdiction.

Determining Sales Tax Nexus

One of the key factors in determining whether you need to collect taxes is establishing a nexus. Sales tax nexus is a connection between your business and a taxing jurisdiction that triggers a sales tax collection obligation.

Nexus can be established through various activities or relationships, including:

  • Having a physical presence: This includes having a physical store, office, warehouse, or any other physical location in a jurisdiction.
  • Having economic presence: Economic nexus is based on the level of sales or transactions you have in a jurisdiction. You must collect tax once you meet a certain threshold, usually based on sales revenue or several transactions.
  • Having affiliate or click-through nexus: If your business has affiliates or generates sales through referrals from other websites (click-through nexus), you may have sales tax obligations in certain states.
  • Participating in trade shows or events: If you sell at trade shows, conventions, or other temporary events in a jurisdiction, you may be required to collect taxes.

Registering for a Permit

If you have established a nexus in a jurisdiction, you will likely need to register for a permit with the appropriate tax authority. The process and requirements for obtaining a permit vary by state and local jurisdiction.

Once you have obtained a permit, you are responsible for collecting taxes from your customers at the applicable tax rate and regularly remitting the tax to the tax authority, usually monthly, quarterly, or annually.

Exemptions and Exceptions

While most sales are subject to sales tax, there may be exemptions or exceptions based on the type of product or service you sell and the jurisdiction’s specific rules. Common exemptions include certain groceries, prescription medications, and sales to wholesale or reseller businesses.

To ensure accurate sales tax collection, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the specific exemptions and exceptions that apply to your business and jurisdiction.

Consulting with a Tax Professional

Navigating sales tax regulations can be complex, especially when you have sales in multiple jurisdictions or sell products or services with different taxability rules. Consulting with a specialised tax professional can help ensure you understand and meet your obligations.

A tax professional can assist with the following:

  • Determining sales tax nexus and registration requirements
  • Managing collection and remittance
  • Identifying applicable exemptions and exceptions
  • Keeping up with changing laws and regulations


Understanding whether you need to collect sales tax is essential for your business. Determining a nexus, registering for a permit, and staying informed about exemptions and exceptions can ensure compliance with regulations and avoid costly penalties. When in doubt, consult with a tax professional to ensure your obligations are met accurately and efficiently.

Sign up to our newsletter

Join the Startup Tandem Community to receive news, help and stories.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This