Congress has debated imposing a national sales tax since at least the Civil War days. However, to date (knock on wood!), the federal government has exhibited a modicum of restraint and limited federal sales-type taxes to excise taxes on specific commodities, such a motor fuels and tires. So for now, general sales taxes remain the province of your state and local government authorities.
Unless you happen to live and do business exclusively in one of the five states that do not impose general sales taxes, you've probably had some exposure to state and local sales taxes.
However, what do you really know about these taxes, apart from the fact that they get added to the bill on some of your purchases? Or, perhaps the better question is what, as a small business owner, should you know about these taxes?
To help ensure that you don't pay any more sales taxes than you're absolutely required to pay and that you don't receive an unexpected visit from an assessment-waving sales tax auditor, we've broken down your sales tax obligations into the following topics:
- What are sales taxes will help you determine who is the taxpayer for sales tax purposes, what types of transactions are taxable, and how the tax is generally computed.
- Your sales tax concerns as a seller examines the role that sellers have in collecting sales taxes from their purchasers and reporting the taxes to the state.
- Your sales tax concerns as a purchaser summarizes purchasers' obligations for paying sales taxes.
- Sales tax considerations by industry segment examines sales and use tax issues specific to the construction, reselling and service sectors.
- State tax rates and other information is included in our detailed discussion of state tax laws.