Selling at a US Conference – Sales tax requirements?

Question

We are a small publisher and will be exhibiting for the first time at a US academic conference in Washington DC, at which we would like to sell some books (printed in the US, so no customs hassle).

Will we have to charge sales tax, even though we are an entirely UK based company? If not, will we need an exemption form? If we do, how do we go about registering for it?

We are not VAT registered. We do have an EIN.

Any leads on this much appreciated.

Answer

Hi Sean,

Happy to pass along some information but UKTI is not qualified to offer legal advice. Your best option is to consult an attorney or accountant for full compliance with U.S. rules and regulations.

Generally, if you are doing business in the US, then you will be required to pay tax; the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will tax you on income sourced in the U.S. Please check the websites below for further information and agency contact information.

IRS – http://www.irs.gov/publications/p519/ch04.html

CONTACT INFORMATION
U. S. Embassy
Internal Revenue Service
24/31 Grosvenor Square
London W1K 6AH
United Kingdom

Walk-in assistance
Tuesday through Thursday
9:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Phone Service
Tel: [44] (207) 894-0477
Monday 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Tuesday through Thursday 9:00 a.m.-12:00 noon.
Fax [44] (207) 495-4224

DC Office of Tax and Revenue – http://otr.cfo.dc.gov/

Customer Service Center
1101 4th Street, SW, Suite W270
Washington, DC 20024
Phone: (202) 727- 4TAX (727-4829)
Fax: (202) 442-6890
Hours of Operation:
8:15 am – 5:30 pm

Hope this helps in the first instance.

Best,
UKTI USA

Answer

Sean,

State and local governments are quite complicated and are different in each state. Usually they impose taxes on sales that occur in their jurisdiction, their requirements for retailers vary but in most cases look for sufficient physical presence, or nexus, in the state to collect the tax.

Washington’s State sales tax rules imposes a sales tax on the sale of tangible property such as a book and include services related to it. Unless you qualify for an exemption (charity, resale, out-of- state use etc.) you will likely have to collect and submit the taxes directly to the state of Washington.

Forms for out-of-state buyers exemption, can be found here:

http://dor.wa.gov/docs/forms/excstx/exmptfrm/buyersretailtxexmptcert_e.pdf

Sellers exemption form can be found here:

http://dor.wa.gov/docs/forms/excstx/exmptfrm/streamlindsalstxexempcert.pdf

Hope this helps!

Sitara Zafar

International Corporate Tax Senior Associate | US Tax & Financial Services Ltd.
Magdalen House, 136 Tooley Street, London SE1 2TU
Tel: +44 (0) 207 357 8220
Please visit: www.ustaxfs.com
Follow us on Twitter: @ustaxfs

Answer

Thank you both for taking the time to answer my question.

I had read that attendance at a conference was regarded as a sufficient ‘nexus’ for application of sales tax in some states, and not in others.

Further research (and now the DC Office of Tax and Revenue) indicate that in DC it is counted as a nexus and does entail sales tax.

I have managed to elicit a respsonse from the DC Office of Tax and Revenue, and hopefully the appropriate forms are en route to me.

Kind regards,
Sean

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