SALES TAX WHAT IS IT?
This is the Sales Tax (City or State) on goods and services collected by businesses from their customers. Let’s say your business sells these good and services, then you are required by law to collect sales tax on the items sold. This is a general description with many exceptions and rules around the taxability for these goods and services.
DOES THE BUSINESS OWNER PAY THE SALES TAX?
Business owners do not pay sales tax out of their own pockets. It is the consumers that pay the sales tax. The business owners are simply required to collect the sales tax for the good and service, hold it secure and send it to the State or city by a mandatory date. This is commonly referred to as a pass through tax.
IS THIS A FEDERAL TAX?
No. Sales tax is a State, city and/or county tax. It is never paid to the Federal government, for example the Federal government collects on payroll or income tax.
ARE ALL GOODS AND SERVICES TAXABLE?
No. The taxability of goods and services varies from state to state or in some cases, city to city.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT’S TAXABLE AND WHAT’S NOT? California Helpful Source and Links CDTFA
States publish lists of taxable and non-taxable goods and services on their websites. For California click on the link below: https://www.taxes.ca.gov/sales_and_use_tax/whatstaxable.html#:~:text=Retail%20sales%20of%20tangible%20items,of%20new%20tangible%20personal%20property.
Some sales are also nontaxable because the seller and/or purchaser meet certain criteria. A complete list is available in Sales and Use Tax: Exemptions and Exclusions (Publication 61) (PDF). Or click on the following link for a copy of the PDF: https://www.cdtfa.ca.gov/formspubs/pub61.pdf
Or contact The California Department of Tax and Fees Administration (CDTFA) Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115 (TTY: 711), or call the local CDTFA office closest to you for assistance. https://www.cdtfa.ca.gov/office-locations.htm
HOW DO I KNOW HOW MUCH SALES TAX TO CHARGE?
The Sales Tax rates are set by the State, county and city. The California statewide tax rate is 7.25%. In most areas of California, local jurisdictions have added district taxes that increase the tax owed by a seller. Those district tax rates range from 0.10% to 1.00%. Some areas may have more than one district tax in effect. Sellers are required to report and pay the applicable district taxes for their taxable sales and purchases. The final and definitive answer is always the sales tax rate posted on State Department of Revenue website. It’s always the merchant’s responsibility to charge the correct sales tax rate.
The following files are provided to download tax rates for California Cities and Counties (all have 3 digits after the decimal). Please Note: Some communities located within a county or a city may not be listed. Tax Rates Effective January 1, 2023 – here https://www.cdtfa.ca.gov/taxes-and-fees/January2023-City-Rates.xlsx
WHO GETS THE SALES TAX MONEY?
In most instances, all sales tax gets paid directly to the State. However, in a some States, the business owner is also required to collect and remit a local sales tax to the city or county.
AFTER THE BUSINESS OWNER COLLECTS THE SALES TAX, WHAT THEN?
Business Owners are required to hold the collected sales tax secure and every month or quarter they must fill out a sales tax return and pay it to the state.
WHAT IF YOU FORGET TO PAY OR SPEND THE MONEY AND CAN’T PAY?
States have severe penalties for missing tax payments, as high as 25% of what you owe. If sales tax goes unpaid, states will seize the assets of the business or owner and auction them off to pay the debt. In extreme cases owners will be prosecuted and sent to jail. Even if the business closes, sales tax is a personal liability that will follow the owner until paid.
This is not meant to be tax advice, please consult with the appropriate professionals and reach out to your tax advisor or accountant.