Wouldn’t it be nice of there were a sales tax fairy godmother to wave her wand and solve all of your sales tax issues? Sadly, no such magical creature exists. However, there are some things you can do on your own to solve any problems your small business may face. Let’s take a look.
Consult an Expert
Most of the time when people think “tax problem” they think “consult a CPA.” However, in the case of sales tax, a CPA isn’t the right expert for the job. Instead, you’ll want to consult with a State and Local Tax Expert (SALT). While CPAs handle many accounting-related matters, a SALT specializes in state-regulated taxes such as sales tax and state income tax. You can find a vetted list of SALTs here.
Call in the Authorities
Just like a CPA is not the right professional for the job when it comes to solving a sales tax problem, the IRS isn’t the right place to call either. That’s because while the IRS regulates income tax in the US, sales tax is regulated at the state level. Instead, if you have a question regarding state sales tax, you can consult your state’s taxing authority. This is generally called the “[State] Department of Revenue,” but may go by another name like the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) or Texas Comptroller.
Just keep in mind that when you call a state you are likely talking to a customer service representative and not a tax expert. If you need a definitive answer to issues that could materially affect your business, be sure to ask for that answer in writing and be warned that that process can take weeks or months.
State sales tax laws are available online, though some are easier to find than others. Many states have also put together a website or FAQ to help retailers in the state navigate sales tax issues on their own. Just like with calling the state, be warned that advice found on state websites can be out of date or written in hard-to-interpret legalese.
Turn to the Internet
Last but not least, you can always turn to your old friend the search engine. As always, be warned that anything you find on the internet should be taken with a grain of salt. However, there are resources out there like the Sales Tax for eCommerce Sellers Facebook Group where over 9,000 online sellers and sales tax experts discuss common sales tax issues.
I hope this post has pointed you in the right direction to solving these issues. Better yet, I hope that you never run into any issues and that your business’s sales tax is smooth sailing!
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