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

Sales and use tax rate changes for January 1, 2014

Jan. 1, 2014

Jan. 1, 2014

Sales and/or use tax rates in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Washington  have changed in Zip2Tax products since December 2013.

In Alabama, tax rates changed for Mumford.

In Arkansas, tax rates changed for Barling, Blytheville, Crossett, Huntsville, Mountain Home, Paris, Portland, Vilonia, Lawrence County and Nevada County.

In Arizona, tax rates changed for Superior.

In Colorado, tax rates changed for Blue River, Firestone, Rocky Ford, Fremont, Boulder, Lamar and Commerce City.

In Georgia, tax rates changed for Baker and Twiggs.

In Illinois, tax rates changed for Carlinville, Champaign, Cicero, Dolton, Melrose Park, Moweaqua, Sesser, Springfield, Tilton, Tuscola, and Urbana, Williamsville, Winfield and the counties of Boone, Christian, Douglas, Gallatin, Hardin, Henry, Livingston and Mercer.

In Kansas, tax rates changed for Clay Center, Parsons, Pittsburg, and Wellington.

In Louisiana, tax rates changed for St. James Parish and St. John Parish.

In Minnesota, tax rates changed for Rice and Olmstead.

In Missouri, tax rates changed for Chariton, Scott, Ashland, Bridgeton, Rolla, Shelbyville, and St. Joseph.

In North Dakota, tax rates changed for Hazen, Rolette and Tower City.
In Nebraska, tax rates changed for Seward and Dakota.

In New Mexico, tax rates changed for Quay, Roosevelt, Corrales and San Juan.

In New York, tax rates changed for the county of Ulster.

In Ohio, tax rates changed for the counties of Franklin and Putnam.

In Oklahoma, tax rates changed for Woodward, Yale, Texhoma, Beaver and Kingfisher.

In South Dakota, tax rates changed for Wessington, Pukwana, Mellette and New Effington.

In Texas, tax rates changed for Richland Springs and Lo Star.

In Washington, tax rates changed for Arlington, Kitsap, Monroe, Newcastle and Skagit.

There were 45 states with ZIP code changes effective after December 2013 including Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Download the full ZIP code change documentation.

For December 2013 changes click here.

Angel Sauer

Angel Sauer, sales tax research team leader

As of November 2012, the following states tax shipping:

states tax shipping

states tax shipping

The following states tax shipping:

North Carolina
North Dakota
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia

Which states are the most business friendly?

America is a competitive place and states battle to be the best at whatever they can. Who has the best schools, the best food, the friendliest people, etc.? As a business owner, you definitely need to know which are the most business friendly.

Like any ranking, this is a matter of opinion and you can spend all day arguing over which state is truly number one. When you dig into the data though, some states have clear advantages over others in terms of taxes and economic strength.Tax Foundation

State corporate tax

A good place to start comparing states is the corporate income tax rate. The less your business owes in state corporate taxes, the better your bottom line so of course we want to keep this low.

South Dakota, Nevada and Wyoming don’t charge a corporate tax, so you can’t do any better than that. Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia also are decent as they cap corporate taxes at 6% or less.

State income tax

State income taxes are another cost of doing business and in a perfect world would be as low as possible. The good news is several states waive this tax altogether to create a more business friendly environment.

If you’re operating out of Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington or Wyoming, you won’t have to pay any state taxes when you draw income out of your business. In terms of taxes, South Dakota, Nevada, and Wyoming start to look pretty appealing because business owners in these states avoid both corporate and individual income taxes.

Sales tax

Sales taxes are a difficult challenge business owners have to deal with. But wait, don’t your customers pay this? That would be mostly right. Your business won’t pay sales taxes out of its profits if you are collecting them correctly at the point of sale. However, your business is responsible for determining the following:

  • IF you are required to collect tax (your business has nexus, or a physical presence, within that jurisdiction);
  • WHICH items are taxable and at WHAT rate (some items and services are tax exempt, others are taxed at a rate different than general rates);
  • HOW MUCH to collect (does the state use origin or destination sourcing, what is the current rate for each jurisdiction);
  • WHERE to send the money (some states have you send it to a single office, others have you make payment to individual municipalities); and
  • and HOW OFTEN you have to do this (this could be annual, quarterly, or monthly depending on the state and the size of your business)?

Collecting sales taxes adds to your item’s total price, so it is in your best interest to keep that amount as low as possible to give you a competitive advantage.  (At least for now. The Marketplace Fairness Act could soon make this a thing of the past.)

Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon don’t charge sales taxes. Alaska, Hawaii*, Maine, and Virginia are also competitive by keeping state and local sales taxes to 5% or less.

Use tax

Use tax is a little different than sales tax. This is your responsibility. You owe your state use tax anytime your business makes a taxable purchase but your supplier didn’t charge you sales tax, or the difference between the two amounts if your state’s use tax rate is higher than what your supplier charged you.) Technically, you could be due a tax refund if your supplier charged you a higher sales tax rate inappropriately, but the burden of proof would fall upon you.

In AlabamaArizonaColoradoMissouri and Oklahoma the use tax differs from the general sales tax rate (normally, it is lower). MontanaNew Hampshire and Oregon have no use tax. IllinoisIowaNew MexicoVermont and Wisconsin have a statewide use tax, but no local use tax.


While avoiding taxes is nice, for your business to succeed you also need a thriving economy with buyers looking for your product. The American economy is still struggling as a whole which makes it tough to open a business. However, some states are definitely doing better than others.

North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Vermont, Iowa, Utah and Wyoming all have an unemployment rate of 4.6% or less. If you’re in one of these states, you’d never know the country’s in an economic downturn.

Of course, these states have relatively small economic volume and may be better suited to specific industries. As far as high volume economies go, Virginia, Texas and Massachusetts are outperforming others as these states have unemployment below 6.6%. Not great, but definitely better than other parts of the country.

States with high unemployment rates may offer temporary tax benefits designed to bring in new businesses. It’s always worth a phone call to the economic development office to see what they have to offer.

The bottom line

So how does this all add up?

Based just on these factors, Wyoming, South Dakota and Alaska take the lead as they are strong in all four categories; they combine low taxes with sound economies. The remoteness of these states might be a strike against them however.

For the bigger players; Texas, hands down, looks very business friendly, even with its exceptionally complicated tax jurisdictions. Nevada, Florida and Washington have encouraging tax laws but high unemployment, whereas Virginia and Massachusetts have better economies but higher taxes.

If you are searching for a home for your business be sure to keep these states in mind as they are the leaders in accommodating businesses.

*Technically, Hawaii has an excise tax rather than sales tax.

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