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Get a State Sales Tax NumberHow, Why and Where to Get a Sales Tax Number

by: Skip McGrath

Most states charge sales tax on goods sold within their state. A lot of Amazon, eBay and website sellers seem to wonder why they need a sales tax number. If you only sell a few used goods you buy at garage sales, I wouldn't worry about it. But if you sell several items a week, you probably should get one.

Three Reasons for Having a State Sales Tax Number, also called a Resale Certificate or Resale Number

  1. It's the law. If you sell goods on Amazon, eBay or the internet and ship them to someone in your same state, then you have to collect sales tax from the buyer and pay that tax to your state. For example, if you live in Virginia, and you sell something to someone else in Virginia or to someone out-of-state that asks you to ship it to someone in Virginia, then you need to collect and pay sales tax to the State of VA. But, again, if you live in Virginia and you sell the same item to someone in Florida, you can forget all about the tax. (There are some exceptions to this that we will cover later)

  2. You can purchase items without paying sales tax on them. When you buy something that you plan to resell, you can purchase it without paying sales tax. But it must be for resale. For example, you can not buy a new computer to use in your office and not legally pay sales tax. But if you go on Liquidation.com and buy a computer that you plan to sell on eBay, then you can buy it without paying sales tax. Depending on if your state charges sales tax on shipping, then you can waive sales tax on shipping supplies.

  3. Most real wholesale companies require a sales tax certificate. Almost all legitimate wholesale companies will ask for a copy of your resale certificate (sales tax license) before they will sell to you at wholesale prices. Besides wholesale companies, in most states you need it to open a commercial checking account. Many banks will require s sales tax number to open a business account.

    In addition, every wholesale trade show and merchandise mart I have ever been to requires a copy of your certificate before admitting you.

If your state does not charge sales tax, (Oregon and Montana for example) then it will probably issue some type of Business License that will serve the same purpose for showing banks and wholesale companies.

Getting a sales tax number is very easy and inexpensive. You can link to any of the states below to get information on obtaining a sales ore use tax number. Most of the states allow you to apply online but a few will give you forms to download, fill out and mail in.

For some reason links to government sites seem to change often. If one of these links doesn't work, simply type in www.xx.gov. Just replace the " xx" with the two letters of the state you want. For example, www.wa.gov will get you to the State of Washington web site.

District of Columbia
New Hampshire*
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia

* These states don't have a conventional sales tax website as this article is being written (but they are being added all the time). A link is provided where you can find more info on that state's tax, business, and/or licensing requirements.

Once again, the states are terrible about maintaining websites. So if one of these links does not work, just follow the steps in the first paragraph above.

Some of these sites are informational and will require you to hunt around the website to find the application. If all else fails, just use the contact form to ask where the application is.

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