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The Ultimate Guide To Alabama Sales Tax

Welcome to our handy guide on Alabama sales tax. We'll walk you through everything you need to know, from the specific sales tax rates in different counties and cities across Alabama to answering some of the most common questions. Plus, we'll guide you on how to efficiently collect and file your sales tax in Alabama.

Sales Tax Rate

4%

Local Rate?

Yes

Website

Alabama Department of Revenue

Sales Threshold

$250,000 + Special Activities

Tax Line

(334) 242-1490

Transactions Threshold

NA

What is Nexus?

You'll need to collect sales tax in Alabama if you have nexus there. There are two main ways that sellers can be tied to a state when it comes to nexus: physical, or economic.

Physical nexus means having enough tangible presence, or activity in a state to merit paying sales tax in that state.

Economic nexus means passing a states' economic threshold, for total revenue, or the number of transactions in that state.

Calculating Nexus in Alabama

Understanding Sales Tax Nexus in Alabama

Sales tax nexus is like having a business handshake with the state, requiring you to collect and remit sales tax. In Alabama, a few key factors determine this nexus:

Physical Nexus in Alabama

The Alabama Code sets the stage for what counts as having a significant business presence in the state. Think of it like having a substantial enough footprint in Alabama to warrant tax responsibilities. Here's a quick glance at the thresholds: From January 1, 2015, to December 31, 2018: If your business has more than $50,000 in property, payroll, or $500,000 in sales, with at least 25% of your total property, payroll, or sales in Alabama, you've got nexus. From January 1, 2019: The thresholds increase slightly to $54,000 for property and payroll and $538,000 for sales. From January 1, 2022: They rise again to $60,000 for property and payroll and $596,000 for sales. If your corporation is based in Alabama or has its main operations here, you're considered to have a strong presence. But, if you're just making sales pitches without a physical setup, you might not meet the nexus criteria. For personalized guidance on your corporation's nexus in Alabama, there's a handy online questionnaire at nexus.revenue.alabama.gov.

Economic Nexus in Alabama Thanks

to the South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. decision, out-of-state sellers with no physical presence in Alabama need to pay attention if their annual sales into Alabama exceed $250,000.

Marketplace Facilitators in Alabama

In the world of Alabama sales tax, Marketplace Facilitators (MPFs) are key players. Here's a quick rundown:
  • Qualified MPFs: Without any nexus in Alabama, these facilitators can use the SSUT program to manage tax on their Alabama sales and for the sellers on their platform, starting from January 1, 2019.
  • Non-Qualified MPFs: With a presence in Alabama, these facilitators use different returns for their own sales but collect and report sales tax for their sellers through the SSUT program.
  • Non-MPF Filers: These are sellers participating in the SSUT program but not operating a marketplace.
  • Marketplace Sellers (MPS): These sellers use marketplace platforms for their sales, relying on MPFs for tax collection and reporting.

Affiliate Nexus in Alabama

This new rule is quite important for remote sellers outside Alabama, as it involves getting a sales tax license and handling sales tax for all sales within the state. This requirement kicks in if you have a substantial nexus, or a significant connection, with Alabama.

How can you tell if you have such a nexus?

Well, it could be through various activities. For example, if you're delivering goods in Alabama using your own vehicles, have any kind of business setup within the state (even temporarily), or employ someone in Alabama to sell, deliver, or take orders for taxable goods or services, you're likely to have a substantial nexus. Furthermore, this nexus concept isn't limited to your direct activities. If you have a business partnership with a company based in Alabama, and they have one or more locations in the state, this could also establish your substantial nexus. This partnership could be reflected in shared branding, trademarks, business strategies, mutual compensation based on sales, or if the Alabama-based business assists in promoting or maintaining your market in the state. The rule spells out what counts as a 'related party' based on your business's nature. And here's a handy tip: if a licensed seller in Alabama collects sales tax on a sale, the buyer doesn't need to worry about use tax obligations. This rule, which became effective on August 24, 2012, according to the Alabama Department of Revenue, simplifies things a bit.

Click-Through Nexus in Alabama

As for Click-Through Nexus in Alabama, there aren't any specific laws about it just yet. So, that's one less thing for remote sellers to consider for now!
Did you know logo

Playing cards are taxed an extra 10 cents per pack in Alabama. So, next time you're in a card game, remember the stakes are a dime higher!

Sales Tax Registration in Alabama

Ready to get your Alabama sales tax permit? Simply head over to the My Alabama Taxes site and follow the easy steps to register your new business entity. Remember, Alabama is keeping it modern – there's no option for paper-based forms to mail in, so it's all done online.

What You’ll Need to Register

Before you dive in, make sure you have this info handy:
  • Business Details: Your legal business name, any trade name or DBA (Doing Business As), your business entity type (like sole proprietorship, corporation, etc.), your Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) from the IRS, and if you’re a sole proprietor without an FEIN, your Social Security Number (SSN).
  • Contact Information: Your business address, mailing address (if it's different), phone number, and email address.
  • Ownership Information: Names and SSNs or FEINs of the owner(s) or partners.
  • Product and Service Details: A brief description of what your business sells or the services it offers.
  • Estimated Sales Information: Your anticipated annual sales volume in Alabama.
  • Other Business Information: Any physical presence or nexus outside Alabama, and your state tax ID number, if you have one.
This list covers the basics, but depending on your business type, you might need a bit more information. For the most up-to-date and detailed instructions, check out the Alabama Department of Revenue's website or get in touch with their support team. When you’ve got all this info, go ahead and register for your permit at the My Alabama Taxes site.

Cost of Registering

The best part? It’s absolutely free to register for an Alabama sales tax permit. That’s right – no charge at all!

Do You Need a Federal Tax ID?

Most likely, yes. Most businesses need a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) to register for an Alabama sales tax license. This number is like your business’s ID for tax purposes, assigned by the IRS. You can apply for an FEIN through the IRS, either online or by sending in Form SS-4. If you’re a sole proprietor without employees and don’t have an FEIN, you might be able to use your Social Security Number instead.

Other Agencies You Might Need to Register With

Depending on what your business does, you might need to register with other agencies in Alabama, like:
  • The Alabama Secretary of State for corporations, LLCs, partnerships, etc.
  • The Alabama Department of Labor if you have employees.
  • The Alabama Department of Finance - Business Privilege Tax Division, especially if you’re an LLC, corporation, or partnership.
  • The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries for agriculture-related businesses.
  • Local city or county agencies for additional licenses, permits, or tax requirements.
The specific agencies depend on your business type and location. It’s always a good idea to talk to a professional advisor or legal counsel to figure out exactly what you need. You can also visit the official websites of these agencies for the most current information.

Guide to collecting sales tax in Alabama

What Sales are Taxable in Alabama?

In Alabama, sales tax is like a participation badge for selling tangible goods. If you're a business in Alabama selling physical items, you collect this tax from your customers and send it off to the state. It's pretty straightforward: if it's a tangible item and it's sold, it's usually part of the sales tax club, except for those sales considered wholesale.

Is Software as a Service (SaaS) Taxed?

Short answer: Yep! When it comes to computers and their hardware, think of these as the tools in your toolkit. Buying or renting them means paying Sales Tax. Software, on the other hand, is like the map for your computer – it tells it where to go and what to do. Whether it's for general or repeated use, or even if it's made in-house and then sold or leased, it's seen as tangible property. Custom software programming is a bit different. It's like creating a tailor-made trail map for someone's specific journey. This service isn't taxed if it's billed separately from the software itself. But remember, the programmer pays sales tax on whatever they use to deliver this programming. And if you get a software maintenance agreement with your software, it's part of the tax equation too, depending on whether it's optional or required and what services it includes.

What's Exempt from Alabama Sales Tax?

In the world of Alabama sales tax, some items are like your essential camping gear – they're exempt. This includes things like prescription meds, certain fuels, agricultural products, and livestock feed. Repair and installation labor costs are off the hook too, as long as they're listed separately. Government transactions and sales to specific tax-exempt entities like schools and certain nonprofits are also tax-free. However, items like cigarettes and beer don't get a free pass. Purchases made with food stamps are sales tax-free too, but other purchases by food stamp users aren't exempt. Wholesale transactions, like sales to retailers or wholesalers for resale, are in the clear – no sales tax there.
Did you know logo

Wood chips for poultry bedding get a tax break. Because in Alabama, chickens sleep tax-free.

Steps for Filing a Alabama Sales Tax Return

In Alabama, how often you file your sales tax depends on your sales volume. Let's break down the different filing frequencies:

Monthly Filers

Your tax returns and payments are due by the 20th day of the month following the month you collected the tax. Example: Tax collected in January 20xx is due by February 20, 20xx. Remember to transmit your electronic payment by 4:00 p.m. Central Standard Time on or before the due date to be on time.

Quarterly Filers

Quarterly returns and payments are due by the 20th day after the end of the quarter. Example: Tax collected in the 1st quarter of 20xx is due by April 20, 20xx. For on-time payment, ensure your electronic payment is sent by 4:00 p.m. Central Standard Time on or before the due date. You can opt for quarterly filing if your tax liability was less than $2,400 in the previous calendar year.

Semi-Annually

Filers Semi-annual returns and payments are due by the 20th day after the end of each six-month period. Example: Tax from the 1st half of 20xx is due by July 20, 20xx. Tax from the 2nd half of 20xx is due by January 20, 20XX. To be timely, send your electronic payment by 4:00 p.m. Central Standard Time on or before the due date. You're eligible for semi-annual filing if your tax liability was under $1,200 the previous year, or if you made sales in no more than two 30-day periods last year.

Annual Filers

Annual returns and payments are due by January 20th of the following year. Example: Tax from the calendar year 2020 is due by January 20, 2021. Make sure your electronic payment is transmitted by 4:00 p.m. Central Standard Time on or before the due date. You can request to file annually if your tax liability was less than $600 for the whole previous year, or if your sales were confined to one 30-day period in the last year.

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Top 5 Tips for Filing Sales Tax in Alabama

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