In this ongoing video-short series, Judy Vorndran answers your questions about state and local tax.

Hi, this is Judy Vorndran of the SALTovation team at TaxOps. I was trolling the internet to see what questions are being put out there. And one question that came to our attention was this: who can apply for a sales tax exemption certificate? The answer may be simpler than you think.

The Basics of Applying for a Sales Tax Exemption Certificate

Anyone who wants to do business in a state and establish a certain status can apply for a sales tax exemption certificate. To do this, you would first need to get a sales tax license in the state or jurisdiction (it could even be within city limits) where you’re doing business and require an exemption certificate.

Once you have your registration document stating that you are licensed as a sales tax provider, then you might provide exemption certificates based on various factors such as resale wholesale or if your entity is exempt by nature like not-for-profit organizations, educational institutions, governmental entities or Indian tribes. There are numerous exempt entities in America that enjoy statutory exemptions because their work benefits society at large – churches also fall into this category due to legislative decisions.

Different Types of Exemptions: Wholesale and Use-Based

Besides these legally-exempted organizations, another way individuals/entities become eligible for exemptions is if they’re wholesalers – meaning they buy goods (for example furniture) from manufacturers using inventory components which they sell later via retailers after providing an exemption certificate through distribution networks. For instance:

– A manufacturer buys raw materials/components exempt from taxes since it’s part of their manufacturing process,
– They sell finished products (furniture) to wholesalers who provide them with an exemption certificate,
– Wholesalers then sell products to retailers, and
– Retailers finally sell the furniture to end-users like you and me.

There are various stages in this “stream of commerce” that determine whether an individual/entity is exempt or not. Exemptions depend on factors like legislation, use-based exemptions, a person’s status (as mentioned earlier), and how transactions unfold over time.

Why Sales Tax Exemption Certificates Matter

In sales tax matters, you either collect certificates – documents proving your exemption status – or you pay taxes. This simple rule makes it essential for businesses to have their sales tax exemption certificate as per their unique business requirements within specific states where they operate. Properly documenting these exemptions helps ensure compliance with taxation rules while avoiding unnecessary expenses. If you found this helpful and need more information from our team at TaxOps or SALTovation, feel free to visit our websites – or Thanks for asking!

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Read more by Tram Le, author of the Spreading Saltovation, in her latest column at Tax Notes State: Sales Tax and Exemptions: Implications for Multistate Taxpayers


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