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The Ultimate Guide To Illinois Sales Tax

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

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Transactions Threshold


What is Nexus?

You'll need to collect sales tax in Illinois 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 Illinois

Physical Nexus

Physical nexus is all about having a concrete presence in Illinois. Here's how it can happen:
  • Brick-and-Mortar Locations: If you've got a physical store, office, or warehouse in Illinois, that's a clear sign of physical nexus.
  • Employees in the State: Having staff working in Illinois, whether they're full-time, part-time, or even temporary, creates nexus.
  • Inventory Storage: If you're storing products or inventory in a warehouse in Illinois, that's another way to establish nexus.
  • Third-Party Connections: Working with agents, contractors, or affiliates in Illinois can also create a nexus for your business.

Economic Nexus

  • Sales Threshold: In Illinois, you'll have economic nexus if you exceed $100,000 in gross sales or have 200 separate transactions in the state within a 12-month period.
  • Remote Sellers: Even if you're selling from another state, if you hit these sales numbers in Illinois, you've got economic nexus.
  • Marketplace Facilitators: If you run a platform connecting buyers and sellers (like an online marketplace), you might be responsible for collecting and remitting sales tax on sales made through your platform.
Did you know logo

In Illinois, candy made with flour isn't considered candy for tax purposes. It’s a sweet loophole.

Sales Tax Registration in Illinois

How to Get Your Illinois Sales Tax Permit

Here's how to register for sales tax in Illinois:
  • Gathering Your Tools: Before you start, make sure you have all your business information handy. This includes your business name, address, federal employer identification number (FEIN), and other relevant details. It's like putting together your playbook before the game.
  • Hitting the Field – Online or Paper: You can register for sales tax in Illinois either online or by paper. If you're tech-savvy, head to the Illinois Department of Revenue's website and follow the online registration process. For those who prefer the traditional route, you can download the Form REG-1, fill it out, and mail it in.
  • Filling Out the Form: Whether you're going digital or sticking with paper, you'll need to fill out the form with your business details. Think of this as outlining your game strategy – you need to be accurate and thorough.
  • Submitting Your Registration: Once your form is complete, submit it to the Illinois Department of Revenue. If you're doing this online, a few clicks will get you there. If you're mailing it, make sure your envelope is properly addressed and stamped.
  • Awaiting Your Sales Tax License: After you submit your registration, there's a bit of a waiting game as the Illinois Department of Revenue processes your application. Once it's approved, you'll receive your sales tax license – your ticket to the big leagues!

Cost of Registering for a Illinois Sales Tax License

As for the cost, registering for a sales tax license in Illinois won't put a dent in your wallet – it's completely free. That's right, no fees!

Federal Tax ID for Illinois Sales Tax License

And yes, you'll need a Federal Tax ID Number or EIN to register. Think of this as your team jersey number – it identifies your business in the game of taxes.

Other Illinois Registrations to Consider

Lastly, depending on your business, you might need to touch base with other agencies in Illinois. This could include the Illinois Secretary of State for business entity registration, the Illinois Department of Employment Security if you have employees, or even local city or county agencies for specific permits and licenses. It's like making sure all parts of your team are ready and in position.

Guide to collecting sales tax in Illinois

Is Illinois an Origin or Destination Sales Tax State?

First things first: Illinois is a destination-based sales tax state. This means you'll calculate sales tax based on where your customer is, not where your business is located. So, if you're shipping a product to someone in Illinois, you need to apply the sales tax rate that applies to their location.

What Sales are Subject to Sales Tax in Illinois?

In Illinois, you'll generally collect sales tax on:
  • Physical Goods: This includes most things you can touch, like furniture or electronics.
  • Certain Services: Some services are taxable in Illinois. It’s best to check with the state or a tax expert to see if yours are included.
  • Prepared Food and Beverages: If you're selling food ready to eat, it's usually taxable.
  • Rentals and Leases: Renting out equipment? You'll likely need to collect sales tax on that.

Is Software as a Service (SaaS) Taxed in Illinois?

Nope, in Illinois, SaaS (Software as a Service) isn’t taxable. There was a bill passed in 2018 (Senate Bill 257) that keeps SaaS free from sales tax.

What is Exempt from Illinoisne Sales Tax?

Illinois has several sales tax exemptions, including:
  • Prescription Medications and Insulin: These are off the sales tax hook.
  • Certain Groceries and Medical Equipment: Not all food and medical gear are taxed.
  • Manufacturing Equipment and Agricultural Items: If they're used directly in production, they're likely exempt.
  • Newspapers and Magazines: These typically don't get taxed.

Who is Eligible for Illinois Sales Tax Exemptions?

Who gets these exemptions? Typically:
  • Nonprofit Organizations: They often get a pass on sales tax.
  • Government Entities: Usually exempt from paying sales tax.
  • Resale Businesses: If you're buying to resell, you might not have to pay sales tax on those purchases.
  • Manufacturers and Farmers: They often get exemptions for production-related items.

What To Do If Your Customer is Exempt from Sales Tax in Illinois?

If a customer is exempt from sales tax:
  1. Get the Paperwork: Ask for their exemption certificate. This is crucial for your records.
  2. Record the Sale: Keep detailed records of the sale and the exemption.
  3. Adjust the Sale: Make sure the sales tax isn’t charged on their bill.

What if You Lose a Illinois Sales Tax Exemption Certificate?

If you lose an exemption certificate, reach out to your customer for a new one. If you can’t get it and the state audits you, you might have to pay the sales tax you didn’t collect. Always best to keep those records safe and sound.
Did you know logo

Like Idaho, Illinois also has a pumpkin tax rule. Carve it or decorate it, and you pay tax.

Steps for Filing a Illinois Sales Tax Return

The Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) sets clear rules on when to file and pay, depending on how much sales tax you collect.
  • Monthly Filers: If you’re pulling in more than $1,000 per month on average in sales tax, you’re in the monthly filing club. This means you file and pay each month.
  • Quarterly Filers: Businesses averaging between $300 and $1,000 per month in sales tax fall into the quarterly filing category. Less frequent, but still important to keep on your radar.
  • Annual Filers: If your sales tax haul is less than $300 a month on average, you're on an annual filing schedule. This is for the smaller volume businesses.

What If a Filing Date Falls on a Weekend or Holiday?

If a filing deadline lands on a weekend or a state-recognized holiday, you get a little breather. The due date gets pushed to the next business day. Handy, right?

How to File a Illinois Sales Tax Return

Filing your sales tax return in Illinois is a straightforward process:
  1. Gather Your Info: Round up all your sales data, taxable sales, exempt sales, and any exemption certificates you’ve collected.
  2. Know Your Schedule: Are you a monthly, quarterly, or annual filer? Keep track of your due dates.
  3. Hop on MyTax Illinois: This is where the magic happens. Log in (or sign up if you haven’t already) and find the sales tax section.
  4. Fill in the Details: Enter all your sales and tax info. Be thorough and accurate to avoid any hiccups.
  5. Review and Submit: Give everything a once-over, then hit submit.
  6. Pay Up (or Refund Time): If you owe tax, you can pay right there online. If you've over-collected, you might have a refund coming your way.

Penalties for Late Filing in Illinois

Running late or short on your tax? There are penalties:
  • Late Filing: 2% penalty per day on the tax due, up to a max of 25%.
  • Failure to File: 5% per month on the tax due, capping at 25%.
  • Underpayment: 10% penalty on the amount underpaid.

Sales Tax Incentives in Illinois

There are a few incentives for staying on track:
  • Waive the Late Penalty: File within 60 days and pay up to get the late penalty waived.
  • Early Payment Discount: Pay on time and get a 2% discount.
  • Payment Plans: Can't pay all at once? The IDOR might work with you on a plan.

Sales Tax Holidays

Keep an eye out for Illinois sales tax holidays. These are special times when certain items, like back-to-school supplies or children's clothing, are tax-free. It's a great time for consumers to save a bit.

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Top 5 Tips for Filing Sales Tax in Illinois

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