Is Your Business Required to Collect and Pay Sales Taxes in Other States?

Is Your Business Required to Collect and Pay Sales Taxes in Other States?

One of the more challenging tax concepts business owners should understand, plan for, and address as part of their overall tax strategy is called nexus.

In simplest terms, nexus defines when you must register to do business and pay sales and use taxes in a particular state (and, in some cases, local jurisdictions). However, there’s nothing simple about it.

In general, if you have a sufficient physical presence in a state – like an office, store, or warehouse – nexus applies. If you have employees working out of another state – even remote workers, agents, or an affiliate – nexus is triggered. And if your business’ economic activity in a state – online or offline – meet certain thresholds, nexus comes into play. These are the easiest triggers to understand – there are others.

What’s more, with the growth of online marketplaces and remote sales, legislation regarding nexus has evolved. As a result, going beyond merely having a physical presence, businesses are required to pay sales and use taxes when they have a significant connection to a state. Each state (and in certain cases, jurisdictions like counties or municipalities) set their own thresholds for triggering “economic nexus.” Thresholds are usually based on revenue, sales volume, and/or number of transactions.

For example, Connecticut adopted its economic nexus threshold in 2018 and updated it in 2019. Today, its threshold is $100,000 in gross sales (including online sales) and 200 or more transactions in the 12 months preceding December 30.

On the other hand, Mississippi adopted its economic nexus threshold in 2023. The threshold is $100,000 in taxable sales within the 12-month period ending on the last day of the most recently completed calendar quarter.

To complicate matters, state thresholds can be adjusted and change. So even if your business didn’t trigger economic nexus a year ago in a certain state that may not be the case today.

The consequences of not complying with nexus requirements can be severe. States can impose penalties, interest, and even civil or criminal charges for non-compliance. Moreover, states can audit businesses and demand payment for uncollected sales tax retroactively for multiple years covered under a statute of limitations. The unexpected financial impact could devastate a business.

To simplify a complex topic, we’ve focused largely on nexus as it relates to sales taxes. However, it’s important to know that when nexus exists it can expand a company’s tax obligations to include state payroll taxes, excise taxes, and franchise taxes (a levy for doing business in a state), as well as additional permit and filing requirements. That’s another discussion for another article.

For now, focus on protecting yourself and your business from the legal and financial ramifications of non-compliance with nexus by consulting with a professional, experienced tax advisor – like the ones you will find at RBT CPAs. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call and learn firsthand why businesses across the Hudson Valley and New York have entrusted us with their accounting, tax, audit, and business advisory needs for over 50 years. RBT and your business can be Remarkably Better Together.


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