If you’re a merchant who sells within the United States, sales tax due dates can be an unwelcome wake up call after an otherwise profitable year, especially if you’re new to the world of US sales tax.

Between the different sales tax rules for each state, the introduction of new tax laws for out-of-state ecommerce sellers, and the penalties of overcharging or failing to remit sales tax, there’s no denying the sales tax compliance process has become more complicated over time.

Luckily, it’s easy to know where and when you may need to collect sales tax, and to collect accurately with product- and location-specific rates, with Shopify Tax.

What is sales tax?

Sales tax is a consumption tax paid to the government on the sales of goods and services. It’s typically paid by the end customer of a product at the point of sale, collected by the seller, and remitted to the government on a regular basis, depending on the seller’s volume, products, and state requirements.

Shopify has a helpful sales tax reference page for learning the sales tax rates, collection rules, and nexus conditions for each state. 

Sales tax is collected at the state level in 45 states and the District of Columbia, and at a local level for some towns and municipalities. Currently, only five states don’t collect sales tax at the state level: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon.

The good news is you’re only required to collect sales tax if you meet the criteria for establishing a significant business presence in the state (or sales tax nexus).

Here’s what you need to be sales tax compliant:

  1. Determine where you have nexus
  2. Ensure your products are taxable
  3. Register for a sales tax permit
  4. Set up sales tax collection in Shopify
  5. Prepare your sales tax reports
  6. File your sales tax return(s)

1. Determine where you have nexus

Nexus is established when you…

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