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When you start a business in retail, food and beverage, or any other category that makes sales, you are required to have a tax registration on file with your state. Depending on what your business licenses, permits & tax agency requires, you may also need a certificate of authority or sales tax license as well.

Getting Your Tax Registration

Ask your business license agency or go to its website to see what tax registration forms you are required to fill out. You will most likely be required to provide the following:

  • Your social security number
  • Your business’ Federal Tax ID number
  • Name and address of your company
  • Estimated monthly sales
  • Withholding tax rate
  • Whether you’re a corporation or LLC

Inheriting Sales Tax from a Previous Owner

If you bought your business from a previous owner, first find out if there were taxes owed at the time you took over the business. If so, you may be liable to pay them. The best thing to do is when you’re in the process of buying a business, ask if you are buying the sales tax debt as well. If so, you should reduce the price you offer. For example, if you buy a business for $100,000 and there is $20,000 in back taxes owed, negotiate to pay $80,000 for the business, since you’ll have to pay the amount owed when you file your tax registration.

Always ask the previous owner to provide a tax registration certificate or tax license at the time of purchase or due diligence.

What Happens After Your Tax Registration

Once you’ve successfully filed your tax registration, you’ll be notified about the schedule you’ll need to pay your sales tax on. That might be monthly, quarterly, or annually. Paying your taxes on time is key, or else you risk being fined for paying late.

You may need to renew your tax registration each year. Find out from your business license bureau what the renewal fee is.