Exemption certificates need to be reviewed for validity

Exemption certificates

Do you know the validity period of your exemption certificates? Did you know that each state treats them differently and that you should review them periodically to make sure they are still good?

It is a good business practice to periodically review exemption certificates because quite a few states claim their exemption certificates are good until the business has a change, the business closes, or the certificate is revoked. You won’t know if these conditions are met unless you check with your customers and vendors regularly and request updated exemption certificates from them.

Some states have no stated expiration for their exemption certificates but they recommend regular or periodic updates. In these cases we listed the least amount of time between recommended updates. In cases where the state listed “good until the exemption no longer applies” we stated that there was no expiration date. Other states note that exemption certificates are good forever however “exempt status must be renewed”, or they “recommend” updates. In these cases we noted the recommended update or renewal timeframe.

Exemption Certificate Validity

State Abbrev. Validity Period
Alabama AL Till Changed Or Revoked
Alaska AK NA – No Certificates
Arizona AZ Date On Certificate
Arkansas AR NA – No Certificates
California CA Till Changed Or Revoked
Colorado CO No Expiration
Connecticut CT 3 Years
Delaware DE NA – No Certificates
District Of Columbia DC Till Changed Or Revoked
>Florida FL 5 Years
Georgia GA Till Changed Or Revoked
Hawaii HI Till Changed Or Revoked
Idaho ID No Expiration
Illinois IL 5 Years
Indiana IN No Expiration
Iowa IA 5 Years
Kansas KS Till Changed Or Revoked
Kentucky KY Till Changed Or Revoked
Louisiana LA 3 Years
Maine ME Till Changed Or Revoked
Maryland MD 5 Years
Massachusetts MA No Expiration
Michigan MI 4 Years
Minnesota MN 3 Years
Mississippi MS NA – No Certificates
Missouri MO 5 Years
Montana MT NA – No Certificates
Nebraska NE No Expiration
Nevada NV 5 Years
New Hampshire NH NA – No Certificates
New Jersey NJ 5 Years
New Mexico NM No Expiration
New York NY Till Changed Or Revoked
North Carolina NC No Expiration
North Dakota ND No Expiration
Ohio OH No Expiration
Oklahoma OK 3 Years
Oregon OR NA – No Certificates
Pennsylvania PA 3 Years
Rhode Island RI No Expiration
South Carolina SC Till Changed Or Revoked
South Dakota SD 1 Year
Tennessee TN Till Changed Or Revoked
Texas TX No Expiration
Utah UT 1 Year
Vermont VT No Expiration
Virginia VA Till Changed Or Revoked
Washington WA 1 Year
West Virginia WV 1 Year
Wisconsin WI 5 Years
Wyoming WY No Expiration

Dormant Commerce Clause debated in Florida discriminatory sales tax case

commerce clause

commerce clause

FloridaThe war between cable and satellite television providers recently had a battle on the sales tax front. On June 11, a Florida appeals court held the state’s sales tax regime – which imposes a higher rate on satellite providers – violated the United States Constitution’s Commerce Clause. While the court’s decision is unlikely to be the final word on the subject, it nonetheless represents an important victory for satellite providers and their customers.

DirecTV, Inc. v. State of Florida

Prior to 2001, Florida imposed a uniform sales tax rate of 6% on all cable and satellite television commerce clausepurchases. The Florida legislature subsequently adopted a new scheme which resulted in a significantly higher increase for satellite than cable. As of 2015, the tax on cable service in Florida is 6.65%, while it is a whopping 10.8% on satellite television.

Understandably, the satellite companies and their customers object to this state of affairs. Two lawsuits were filed challenging the constitutionality of the discriminatory tax rules. A trial judge sided with the State of Florida and its Department of Revenue, holding the higher satellite rates were constitutional. The plaintiffs then appealed to the Florida’s First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee.

A divided three-judge panel reversed the trial court and ordered judgment for the satellite companies and their customers. Chief Judge L. Clayton Roberts, writing for the majority, said Florida’s tax regime violates what is known as the “dormant Commerce Clause.” The Commerce Clause gives Congress the exclusive authority to regulate interstate and foreign commerce. The dormant Commerce Clause refers to the judiciary’s longstanding practice of interpreting this to mean individual states may not discriminate against out-of-state businesses in an effort to aid local “economic interests.” The discrimination need not be intentional; a court may hold a policy unconstitutional if it produces a discriminatory effect.

“Here,” Roberts said, “the sales tax [] is discriminatory in effect because it affects similarly-situated entities, cable and satellite companies, by imposing a disproportionate burden on satellite service and conferring an advantage upon cable services, which use in-state infrastructure.”

The state argued its policies were not discriminatory because cable providers were still subject to local sales taxes, which in some counties meant the rates paid by each were roughly equal. (Federal law exempts satellite providers from local taxes.) Roberts said “this method of attaining a semblance of equality is untenable,” because there was nothing to prevent counties from eliminating their local tax in the future.

Judge Simone Marstiller dissented from the majority’s opinion. She argued the dormant Commerce Clause did not apply here, because the satellite providers were not really out-of-state businesses. She noted the satellite companies have employees and contractors in Florida, and while the cable providers – none of whom are actually based in Florida – may rely more on such “in-state infrastructure,” that does not mean the state’s tax rules unfairly discriminate in favor of “in-state economic interests.”

Marstiller’s dissent is no doubt encouraging to state tax officials, who have already appealed Roberts’ decision to the Florida Supreme Court.

S.M. Oliva is a writer living in Charlottesville, Virginia. He edits the international legal blog PrivyCouncil.info

Back To School sales tax holiday list for 2015

Back To School sales tax holiday

Back To School Sales tax holidayThe most complete list of all 17 states holding a Back To School sales tax holiday for 2015, updated July 14, 2015.  This list is complete with items sales tax will be suspended on, the upper price limit, the sales date ranges, when the sales were first initiated, and a link to where you can get more information.

The 2015 Back To School sales tax holiday will be held in Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Keep in mind that while some states suspend the state portion of the sales tax during these Back To School specials, but county, city, or other local sales taxes might still apply if those municipalities are not participating the sales tax holiday.

Also consider that not all items are viewed equally in the eyes of the tax adjuster. Shoes may be considered an item of clothing in one instance, but “track shoes” may be considered sporting goods and not included along with the tax-free items during this Back To School sales tax holiday.

State Items Included Max Price 1st Year 2015 Dates Information Links
Alabama clothing $100 2006 August 7-9 http://www.revenue.alabama.gov/
computers $750
school supplies $50
books $30
Arkansas clothing $100 2011 August 1-2 http://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/
school supplies
Connecticut clothing and footwear $300 2001 August 16-22 http://www.ct.gov/drs/
Florida school suppies 2007+ August 7-16 http://dor.myflorida.com/
clothing $100
supplies $15
computers $750
Georgia school supplies 2012+ July 31 – August 1 http://dor.georgia.gov/
clothing $100
supplies $20
computers $1,000
Iowa clothing $100 2000 August 7-8 https://tax.iowa.gov/
Louisiana all taxable personal property $2,500 2007 August 7-8 http://www.revenue.louisiana.gov/
Maryland clothing & footwear $100 2010 August 9-15 http://www.marylandtaxes.com/
Mississippi clothing & footwear $100 2009 July 31-Aug. 1 http://www.dor.ms.gov/
Missouri clothing $100 2004 August 7-9 http://dor.mo.gov/
computers $3,500
school supplies $50
New Mexico clothing $100 2005 August 7-9 http://www.tax.newmexico.gov
computers $1,000
computer equip. $500
school supplies $30
Ohio clothing $75 2015 August 7-9 http://www.tax.ohio.gov/
school supplies $20
instructional material $20
>Oklahoma clothing $100 2007 August 7-9 http://www.tax.ok.gov/
>South Carolina clothing 2000 August 7-9 http://www.sctax.org/
school supplies
Tennessee clothing $100 2006 August 7-9 http://tn.gov/revenue/
school supplies $100
computers $1,500
Texa clothing, backpacks and school supplies $100 1999 August 7-9 http://comptroller.texas.gov/
Virginia clothing $100 2006 August 7-9 http://www.tax.virginia.gov/
school supplies $20
energy star products $2,500
hurricane preparedness items $60
generators $1,000

Source: Federation of Tax Administrators

Should you charge sales tax on shipping?

Sales tax on shipping

Whether or not you should charge sales tax on shipping charges depends on several factors

Shipping charges may be exempt from sales tax if some or all of the following apply:

  1. Delivery by common carrier or USPS
  2. Charges stated separately and not bundled with other charges such as handling
  3. Shipping charges are not included in the price of the item
  4. Purchased items are tax exempt
  5. If shipment includes both exempt and taxable property the seller should allocate the delivery charge and tax the non-exempt portion.
  6. Charges paid by purchaser
  7. Delivery and billing by independent contractor who is not the seller and paid by the purchaser
  8. Delivery charges are optional
  9. Delivery is separately contracted
  10. Items delivered outside the state
  11. Retailer is engaged in a separate delivery business
  12. Shipment is made direct to the purchaser
  13. Shipment occurs after title passes to purchaser


Taxability of shipping rules by state

Some states apply sales tax on shipping based on the shipping agreement in relation to the item’s transfer of title to the purchaser while others treat shipping as a non-taxable service if contracted for independently. Some states try to merge these two approaches thereby creating a patchwork of regulations and opaque rules.

While not a fail-safe approach, here are a few best practices to improve your company’s chances of avoiding having to collect sales tax on shipping: Have the buyer pay the freight charges; bill the transportation charges separately following the sale; pass the title to the purchaser before shipping; and use a common carrier or the US mail.

Following is a list of the basic tax on shipping rules for each state and a few of their most general exceptions and caveats.

Refer to the numbered exemptions listed above

Alabama – Shipping is not taxable in Alabama (AL) if 1 and 2.

Arizona – Shipping is not taxable in Arizona (AZ) if 2.

Arkansas – Shipping is taxable in Arkansas (AR).

California – Shipping is not taxable in California (CA) if 1, 2, 7 or 13.

Colorado – Some shipping is taxable in Colorado (CO) except if 2, 3 and 8; certain localities may tax all shipping.

Connecticut – Shipping is taxable in Connecticut (CT) except 4.

District of Columbia – Some shipping is taxable in the District of Columbia (DC) except when 2 and 13.

Florida – Some shipping is taxable in Florida (FL) except when 2 and 8 or 2 and 13.

Georgia – Shipping is taxable in Georgia (GA) with certain exceptions.

Hawaii – Shipping is taxable in Hawaii (HI) except 10.

Idaho – Shipping is not taxable in Idaho (ID) if 2.

Illinois – Some shipping is not taxable in Illinois (IL) if 9.

Indiana – Shipping is taxable in Indiana (IN) but 5.

Iowa – Shipping is not taxable in Iowa (IA) if 2 or 9 but 5.

Kansas – Shipping is taxable in Kansas (KS) but 5.

Kentucky – Shipping is taxable in Kentucky (KY)

Louisiana – Shipping is not taxable in Louisiana (LA) if 2 and 13.

Maine – Some shipping is taxable in Maine (ME) except when 1 and 2 and 12 all apply.

Maryland – Shipping is not taxable in Maryland (MD) if 2.

Massachusetts – Some shipping is taxable in Massachusetts (MA) except when 2 and other exceptions.

Michigan – Shipping is taxable in Michigan (MI) except when 11 or 13 but 5.

Minnesota – Shipping is taxable in Minnesota (MN) but 5.

Mississippi – Shipping is taxable in Mississippi (MS)

Missouri – Some shipping is taxable in Missouri (MO) except when 2 and 8.

Nebraska – Shipping is taxable in Nebraska (NE) but 5.

Nevada – Some shipping is taxable in Nevada (NV) except 2 and 13.

New Jersey – Shipping is taxable in New Jersey (NJ) except when 4.

New Mexico – Shipping is taxable in New Mexico (NM)

New York – Shipping is taxable in New York (NY)

North Carolina – Shipping is taxable in North Carolina (NC) but 5.

North Dakota – Shipping is taxable in North Dakota (ND) but 5.

Ohio – Shipping is taxable in Ohio (OH) but 5 and except 6.

Oklahoma – Shipping is not taxable in Oklahoma (OK) if 2 and 3 but 5.

Pennsylvania – Shipping is taxable in Pennsylvania (PA) except when 4 or 7.

Rhode Island – Shipping is taxable Rhode Island (RI) except 7.

South Carolina – Shipping is taxable South Carolina (SC) except 13.

South Dakota – Shipping is taxable in South Dakota (SD) except 7 but 5.

Tennessee – Shipping is taxable in Tennessee (TN) except 7.

Texas – Shipping is taxable in Texas (TX) except 7.

Utah – Some shipping is taxable in Utah (UT) except when 1, 2 and 3 but 5.

Vermont – Shipping is taxable in Vermont (VT)

Virginia – Shipping is not taxable in Virginia (VA) if 2.

Washington – Shipping is taxable in Washington (WA) except 13.

West Virginia – Shipping is taxable in West Virginia (WV) except 1 , 2 and 7.

Wisconsin – Shipping is taxable in Wisconsin (WI) but 5.

Wyoming – Shipping is not taxable in Wyoming (WY) if 2.

As always, we recommend you consult with the department of revenue for any state in which your company has nexus and ask for a determination in writing whenever the rules are confusing or contradictory.

Sales and use tax changes in Zip2Tax products for January 1, 2015

Sales tax rates – January 2015

Sales tax rates – January 2015

20 sales and use tax changes in Zip2Tax products since December 2014. There were changes in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.

In Alabama, tax rates changed for Semmes, Cordova, Pine Hill, Piedmont, Florala and Hillsboro.

In Arkansas, tax rates changed for Farmington, Gassville, Harrison, Jonesboro and Quitman.

In Arizona, tax rates changed for Coconino County.

In Colorado, tax rates changed for Denver, Brush, Idaho Springs, La Veta, Boulder County and City, Larimer County, and Windsor.

In Florida, tax rates changed for Brevard, Charlotte, De Soto, Escambia, Hernando, Highlands, Leon, Monroe, Orange, Seminole and Volusia Counties.

In Georgia, tax rates changed for Brooks, Chattahoochee, Clinch, Muscogee, Seminole, Spalding and Twiggs Counties.

In Idaho, tax rates changed for Ketchum.

In Illinois, tax rates changed for Gurnee, New Baden, Skokie, Trenton, Vernon Hills, Waukegan, and Wilmette.

In Kansas, tax rates changed for Cherokee, Edwardsville, Goddard, Herington, Leon, Luray, Randolph, Smith Center, Utica and Chase County.

In Louisiana, tax rates changed for Doyline and Homer.

In Minnesota, tax rates changed for Todd and Fillmore Counties.

In Missouri, tax rates changed for Ralls and Webster Counties, Hazelwood, Jennings, St. Ann, Sparta and Warson Woods.

In North Dakota, tax rates changed for Beulah, Fredonia, Harvey, Hazelton, Lignite, and Velva.

In Nebraska, tax rates changed for Battle Creek and David City.

In New Mexico, tax rates changed for Colfax, Curry, Grant, Harding, Quay, San Juan, San Miguel, Sierra and Valencia Counties, and Vaughn and Lovington.

In Oklahoma, tax rates changed for Comanche, Leflore, Logan, and Mayes Counties, and Bridgeport, Bethel Acres and Glencoe.

In South Dakota, tax rates changed for Veblen.

In Texas, tax rates changed for China Grove and Maypearl.

In Washington, tax rates changed for Benton County, Ephrata, and Monroe.

In Wyoming, tax rates changed for Washakie County.

There were 13 states with ZIP code changes effective after December 2014 including Arkansas, California, DC, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas.

To see rate changes that took effect in December 2014 please visit this article.

Download the full ZIP code change documentation.

For December 2014 changes click here.

Angel Sauer

« Older Entries Recent Entries »