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The Sales Tax

Sales taxes are much more important in the south and west than they are in New England and the industrial Midwest. Florida, Washington, Tennessee, and Texas all generate more than 50 percent of their tax revenue from The Sales Tax, and several of these states raise nearly 60 percent of their tax revenue from the sales tax. New York, on the other hand, only raises about 20 percent of its revenues from the sales tax. In general, sales taxes take a percentage of the price of goods sold.

Although other products may be labeled custom or a service, they may not meet the legal definition for tax purposes. Sales oflocal residential telephone services billed on a recurring basis or for message unit charges , up to a total of $30 per month. This includes service provided to an individual for personal use at their residential address .


Some items are quite difficult to tax, like imputed financial services. Child credits, rental payments, and some or all food may fall into this category. Finally, some sectors might not be taxed because of strong political influences—housing and health, for instance, though exemptions here may also be related to social policy. Taxpayers who are obligated to file and pay sales and use tax electronically but fail to do so are subject to a $10 penalty for failure to file a return electronically and a $10 penalty for failure to pay electronically. These $10 penalties are in addition to any other penalty that may apply.

The Sales Tax

If you’re a cigarette retailer, you must register for sales tax since cigarette sales are subject to the sales tax. You should also check with your local Board of Health to see if you also need a local tobacco sales permit. For example, if you buy furniture for your Massachusetts business or home from an out-of-state firm, you don’t pay sales tax, but you still have to pay the use tax. The use tax applies because the furniture wasn’t subject to a sales tax in the other state and because it’s for use in Massachusetts. Unlike for the sales tax, the buyer generally pays the use tax directly to Massachusetts.

Penalty and Interest

At the state level, all but five states do not have statewide sales tax. States that impose a sales tax have different rates, and even within states, local or city sales taxes can come into play. Unlike VAT (which is not imposed in the U.S.), sales tax is only enforced on retail purchases; most transactions of goods or services between businesses are not subject to sales tax. Sales where the purchaser is a registered vendor for sales tax purposes, and intends to resell the item or telecommunications services as part of business. The seller must be given a Sales Tax Resale Certificate (Form ST-4) and retain it as proof the sale was exempt for the reasons stated on the certificate. Vendors can confirm the validity of their customers’ sales and use tax registration and resale certificates online through MassTaxConnect.

  • This causes cascading of the sales tax, which distorts relative prices in capricious ways and gives firms incentives to merge with other firms in order to avoid the tax.
  • If this is a late or amended return, interest is computed at the rate of 1% per month or fraction of a month from the due date until the date of payment.
  • Both plans would allow businesses who remit taxes to government to retain a small percentage of revenues collected as compensation for collection costs.
  • That is particularly important for an item to be sold or used in another jurisdiction with a lower tax rate or an exemption for that item.
  • Before sharing sensitive or personal information, make sure you’re on an official state website.

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