A Sales Tax Primer for U.S. Publishers

June 2002
by Steve Carlson

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Although publishers collect sales taxes on only a small minority of sales, we have to know our state laws and regulations. Most of us register as tax collectors, file quarterly reports, and face penalties if we make a mistake.

The rules are different in every state, as I’ve learned in adapting business software for publishers throughout the U.S. However, it’s not difficult to figure out the specific requirements in your state if you understand the general patterns.


Which Publishers Need to Register

Unless you operate your business from one of the four states with no sales tax (Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon), you must register with your state tax department. If counties or municipalities in your state also have sales taxes, you will probably be required to collect those as well. You do not have to collect taxes for any other state unless you have a substantial physical presence there.

To register, telephone your state tax department to request the forms, or check the department’s Web site for downloadable forms.

Many U.S. publishers also register to collect the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from their Canadian customers, regardless of whether they are legally required to do so (see below).


Which Sales Are Taxed

In most states, your only taxable customers are individual book readers who buy directly from you. Sales to bookstores and other resellers are generally no…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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