Updated October 29, 2017
Spring is officially here and that means craft fair and outdoor festival season is in full swing. This post will explain how to handle sales tax if you’re a festival vendor, and includes a few tips for organizers, too. We’ll also include a sales tax by state guide so you can see what each state has to say about collecting sales tax as a festival vendor.
Sales Tax 101 for Festival Vendors
First of all, if you sell taxable items, you should be registered for a sales tax permit in your home state.
This post will break down what you need to know about sales tax if you’re selling at a festival in a different state:
- In general, if you are selling taxable products at retail, then you are required to collect sales tax from your buyers.
- When making in-person sales, you charge the sales tax rate where the sale is taking place. In this case, that would be the combined sales tax rate in the state, county, and local area where the festival is located. Your festival organizer should provide you with the local sales tax rate, but if they did not, you can find it with TaxJar’s handy sales tax calculator, or – when you arrive at the festival location – by navigating to TaxJar.com/mobile with your mobile device.
- You’ll usually need to register for a sales tax permit before collecting sales tax. In some cases, you’ll get a temporary sales tax permit that is only valid for the duration of the festival. If that happens to you, you generally collect sales tax during the festival and then pay that entire amount to the state after the festival is over. The exception is the 5 states which don’t have a sales tax: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon.
- Every state is different when it comes to sales tax on temporary sales such as at a craft fair or festival! Some states provide a wealth of information or special publications just for festival vendors. Other states treat every seller – from people who own in-state retail stores to people who are coming to the state to make sales for just a single weekend – just the same. Be sure to check the list of states below to find out what is required of you to keep your business legal and compliant when it comes to sales tax. When in doubt, your festival organizer likely has information for you on how much sales tax to collect.
- If you hold a regular seller’s permit (and not a one-time-use or special event sales tax permit), you are required to collect sales tax on ALL sales to buyers in that state. Here’s an example of how this works.
If all of this is new or confusing to you, don’t worry! You can read a whole lot more about sales tax in our Sales Tax 101 Guide.
Sales Tax 101 for Festival Organizers
As a festival organizer, it’s a wise idea to make sure that all your vendors are giving information about how to collect sales tax at your event. Some state taxing authorities even require that you provide sales tax information to vendors.
Here are a few important things you need to know:
- Sales tax rules and laws depend on the state where you are holding the festival.
- In sales tax laws and regulations, you may be referred to as an “organizer,” “sponsor,” “promoter” or some other term.
- Your vendors should collect sales tax at the location’s combined sales tax rate. That is the state rate + county rate + city rate + any other special taxing district rates. Keep in mind that some states may not have local rates, and some may not even have a sales tax at all.
- In most cases, your vendors are responsible for collecting the right amount of sales tax from customers. It’s a best practice (and sometimes required) to make sure that your vendors are properly registered to collect sales tax in the state and that they are following state sales tax laws when collecting.
- Though this is uncommon, you may be required to collect sales tax from event attendees if you charge an admission fee. Again, this depends on the state.
- Getting sales tax compliant is a hassle, but don’t skip it! Auditors from your state’s taxing authority may visit your festival to ensure that all sales tax laws are being followed.
You have a lot to think about if you are organizing a festival. Find out more about sales tax in each U.S. state here. If you need to speak to someone about how to handle sales tax, here are the best phone numbers for each state’s department of revenue.
Festival Sales Tax Guidelines, by State
Important to note: The info listed here are general guidelines and are not meant to substitute for advice from a vetted sales tax expert. State sales tax laws and regulations subject to change. When looking for sales tax information for festival organizers or vendors, be sure to click the “Source” provided to visit each state’s department of revenue and see their most up-to-date guidelines. When in doubt, contact the state’s department of revenue before proceeding.
Vendors are required to register for an Arizona Transaction Privilege Tax (TPT) license. Promoters are required to register for a TPT if they do any of the following:
- Sell retail items
- Charge an entrance or admission fee to the event
- Sell food or beverages for consumption on the event premises
- Charge an admission fee to an amusement at the event
- Rent tables, chairs or other equipment in addition to the space rental agreement
- Possibly if you rent spaces or charge a fee to vendors for space, booth or table (see Arizona code §42-5069)
Vendors are required to collect sales tax and pay collected sales tax and use tax to the organizers daily. Event organizers are required to remit the collected sales tax to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration within 30 days of the event. As an organizer, you are also required to collect sales tax on any admission fees you charge for the event. Read more at the Arkansas DFA’s “Special Event Promoter’s Sales Tax Information” document (opens in PDF.)
Vendors making sales at a temporary event in California are required to register for a California sales tax permit. If you are already registered for a California sales tax permit, you are required to register for a “sub-permit” showing the location of the festival/special event. Event organizers are required to verify that all vendors have a valid California seller’s permit before renting space to them. Check out California BOE Publication 111, Operators of Swap Meets, Flea Markets, or Special Events for specific info.
“Special events” in Colorado are considered events where three or more vendors get together to sell outside of regular business operations. (If the event takes place more than 3 times per year it is no longer considered a special event.) Vendors who plan to make sales at a single at a festival or other show are required to obtain a Colorado “single event license.” The fee for this permit is $8 for seller who do not currently have a Colorado sales tax license, and free for sellers who already have a Colorado sales tax license.
Vendors who plan to participate in two or more special events during a two-year period are required to obtain a “multiple events license.” The fee for this license is $16 for a two-year period for vendors who don’t hold a Colorado sales tax license, and free for sellers who already hold a Colorado sales tax license.
Colorado also allows event organizers to elect to obtain special event sales tax permits and be responsible for properly collecting and remitting any sales tax due. In this case, the organizer would also be required to provide the Colorado Department of Revenue with a list of names and addresses of the vendors. (Source)
Vendors selling at any Connecticut special event are required to register for a Connecticut sales tax permit before the event, even if only selling for one day. Vendors must display the permit prominently at their booth or table. (Source)
Vendors making retail sales at a festival or other special event in Florida are required to register for a Florida sales tax permit. Vendors are required to charge sales tax to admission on special events. (Source)
An out-of-state company will not be considered a Georgia “dealer” for sales tax purposes if its physical presence in the state is limited to participating in convention and trade show activities (or presumably, craft fairs), provided that such activities do not exceed more than five days in any twelve-month period and the seller did not derive more than $100,000 of net income from those activities in Georgia during the prior calendar year. (Source)
Anyone – residents or visitors – doing business in Hawaii for any length of time (even one day) is required to obtain a Hawaii General Excise Tax (GET) license. The application fee is $20 and the license is effective for as long as you conduct business in Hawaii. (Source)
Vendors making temporary sales at a festival or other special event in Idaho can choose to register for a temporary seller’s permit or a standard seller’s permit. The Idaho Department of Revenue published this handy guide to help you decide:
Find out more on the Idaho Department of Revenue Seller’s Permits page.
Illinois requires everyone who makes sales in the state, even temporarily, to register for an Illinois sales tax permit. Out-of-state vendors participating in a single event may remit sales tax using Form IDOR-6-SETR, Special Event Tax Collection Report and Payment Coupon.
The Illinois Department of Revenue may actually collect sales tax from vendors selling at the event. This is to ensure that the correct location inside the state of Illinois is allocated the sales tax. (Ex: A portion of the sales tax collected in Bloomington, IL should go to the Bloomington city treasury.) If you are already registered for a sales tax permit in Illinois, you may still be required to remit sales tax at the event, to ensure that the right Illinois locality receives the tax collected.
You can read more about Illinois special event sales tax here, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org via email for further info about special event sales tax in Illinois.
Iowa requires that all sellers making sales in the state, even temporarily, collect sales tax. Here’s how to register for an Iowa sales tax form. (While Iowa had temporary sales tax permits available in the past, they are no longer in use.) Event organizers are called “sponsors” in Iowa, and must fill out an Iowa Sponsor Registration Form. (Source)
If you only sell at one or two Kansas events per year you can file a special event sales tax return in the state of Kansas. But if you sell at more events, then you are required to register for a regular Kansas sales tax permit.
Kansas event organizers are required to notify the Kansas Department of Revenue of all events, request an event packet and distribute materials regarding sales tax to all vendors. You must also provide a list of all participating vendors within 14 days after the event. You can read more about organizing or selling at special events in Kansas here.
All vendors selling at a festival or special event in Louisiana must have a Louisiana sales tax number, or one will be issued at the event. You can learn how to register for a Louisiana sales tax permit here.
Event organizers are responsible for notifying the Louisiana Department of Revenue about the event, furnishing sales tax information to vendors, and providing a list of vendors to the DOR within 2 weeks of the event. (Source)
Vendors can either apply for a 30-day sales tax permit or permanent license when selling at a festival or special event in Maryland. You can find out more about how to register for a Maryland sales tax permit here. (Source)
Massachusetts requires that all sellers making sales in the state, even temporarily, collect sales tax. Here’s how to register for a Massachusetts sales tax permit. (Source)
Vendors who provide a written statement proving that they only participate in one event per calendar that that lasts no longer than three days, and that they make less than $500 during the calendar year are not required to register for a sales tax permit when selling at a festival in Minnesota. All other vendors are required to register for a Minnesota sales tax permit and collect sales tax from vendors. Vendors should also collect sales tax separately from the price of the item when possible. If not possible, vendors should mark items “tax included.”
Festival organizers must have either all vendors’ proof of sales tax permit or vendors’ written statements on hand before the event. (Source)
In Mississippi, the promoter/organizer of an event is considered to be “the seller” and is responsible for collecting and remitting all sales tax on sales at the event. (Source)
Missouri requires that all sellers making sales in the state, even temporarily, collect sales tax. Here’s how to register for a Missouri sales tax permit.
Interestingly, Missouri has a sales tax exception for hobby handicrafters over 65-years-old as long as the sales of handicrafts do not constitute more than 50% of their annual income. You can read more about the Missouri Exemption Certificate for Sales of Handicraft Items here (opens in PDF.) (Source)
The promoter and all vendors at a Nebraska festival or other special event are required to be registered for a Nebraska sales tax permit, and to collect all applicable state and local sales tax from buyers.
Event organizers are required to email special event information to email@example.com before the event takes place (Source)
One-time vendors making retail sales at a festival or other special event will be provided a “one-time sales tax return.” You are required to fill out this return at the end of the event and include it, along with a check for the amount of sales tax you collected made out to the Nevada Department of Taxation, to the organizer at the end of the event.
Vendors who sell at two or more events in Nevada during a twelve-month period, you must register for a Nevada sales tax permit.
Event organizers should contact the Nevada Department of Revenue at least two weeks before the event in order to receive a “One-Time Event Packet.” This will allow you to provide vendors with the information and education they need about collecting sales tax at your event. (Source)
New Jersey requires that all sellers making sales in the state, even temporarily, collect sales tax. Seasonal vendors are required to register at least 15 days before the event. Here’s how to register for a New Jersey sales tax permit. (Source)
Vendors doing temporary sales can apply for a temporary sales tax permit and file all collected New Mexico gross receipts tax one time. (Source)
North Carolina requires that all sellers making sales in the state, even temporarily, collect sales tax at the local rate. Here’s how to register for a North Carolina sales tax permit.
Event organizers are required to maintain a list of each vendor present, along with their address and sales tax registration number. (Source)
North Dakota requires that all sellers making sales in the state, even temporarily, collect sales tax at the local rate. Here’s how to register for a North Dakota sales tax permit.
The organizer of a special event that will have 10 or more vendors is required to submit a list of vendors to the Office of State Tax Commissioner within 20 days of the event. (Source)
A retailer who transports stock(s) of goods to temporary places of business in Ohio in order to make sales can apply for either a Vendor’s License or a Transient Vendor’s License. You can find information about applying for both types of Ohio sales tax licenses here. (Source)
Vendors are required to register for an Oklahoma sales tax permit and collect all applicable Oklahoma sales tax. Organizers are responsible for providing event sales tax information to vendors and remitting all sales tax collected at the end of the event.
Organizers must also submit an Oklahoma Special Event Promoter/Organizer Business Application at least 20 days before the event. They must also provide a list of all vendors’ names, addresses, telephone numbers and sales tax permit numbers. (Source)
Pennsylvania requires that all sellers making sales in the state, even temporarily, collect sales tax. Here’s how to register for a Pennsylvania sales tax permit. (Source)
Rhode Island requires that all sellers making sales in the state, even temporarily, collect sales tax. Here’s how to register for a Rhode Island sales tax permit.
South Carolina requires that all sellers making sales in the state, even temporarily, collect sales tax. Here’s how to register for a South Carolina sales tax permit. (In South Carolina, people specifically selling at a flea market or conducting a yard sale once per quarter are not required to collect sales tax. Business generally will not fall into this category.) (Source)
South Dakota requires that all sellers making sales in the state, even temporarily, collect sales tax. Here’s how to register for a South Dakota sales tax permit.
Texas requires that all sellers making sales in the state, even temporarily, collect sales tax. Here’s how to register for a Texas sales tax permit. Event organizers are responsible for remitting any sales tax collected by unregistered vendors. (Source – opens in PDF)
Vendors selling at a one-time event in Utah can register for a Utah Temporary Sales Tax Permit. The permit is only good for a single event. Vendors will then use Form TC-790C, Temporary Sales Tax License and Special Return to report and remit the sales tax collected. (Source)
Vendors who sell at no more than two events per year (with each event lasting no longer than one month) can register for a Washington Temporary Sales Tax Permit. (Source)
Vendors who sell taxable items at Washington DC special events are required to register for and collect sales tax from buyers. Here’s how to register for a Washington DC sales tax permit.
Event organizers are required to register the event with the Washington DC Office of Tax and Revenue before the event takes place. (Source)
Vendors who sell taxable items at West Virginia special events are required to register for and collect sales tax from buyers. Here’s how to register for a West Virginia sales tax permit.
Some vendors will fall into the category of “Transient Vendors.” These vendors are required to complete a WV/BRT-803 Application for Transient Vendor License along with a $30 fee, and to post a $500 surety bond. Transient vendors DO NOT include sellers who only sell by sample catalog, only sell handmade items, or make sales of agricultural or farming products. (Source)
Wisconsin requires that all sellers making sales in the state, even temporarily, collect sales tax. Here’s how to register for a Wisconsin sales tax permit.
Further, any seller who makes sales or promote sales (via handing out business cards, etc.) in Wisconsin at a one-time event is responsible for collecting sales tax from Wisconsin customers through the end of the seller’s tax year. (Source)
Festival Sales Tax FAQs
This sounds like a hassle! If I don’t charge sales tax, who will know?
We don’t recommend trying to avoid collecting sales tax when making in-person sales. Many states require that festival organizers submit the names, addresses and sales tax numbers of vendors to the state’s taxing authority. Sales tax is used to pay for budget items in the state, county, and city/local area where the festival takes place, and those governments want their money!
Can I include the sales tax in the price of my products?
This depends. Some states forbid including sales tax in the price of the product. Other states let you do this as long as you post something to the effect of “tax included in price,” and other states don’t really say much about this at all. In general, states want two things: a.) for vendors to collect sales tax from consumers and to remit it to the state b.) for consumers to be informed about where their money is going when making a purchase.
I live out of state and registered for a sales tax permit just to sell at this festival. What do I do now?
This depends on the state. Some states will allow you to immediately cancel your sales tax permit after you have filed a sales tax return and remitted all of the sales tax collected at the festival.
Other states have a “trailing nexus” period. Tl;dr this means that the state considers that, with your presence, you created a market in the state of buyers who may purchase from you later. In their reasoning, this means that you should be required to collect sales tax from those buyers. Here is more info, including a list of states with trailing nexus. (Keep in mind this is always subject to change, and you should contact the state’s department of revenue or a good CPA if you have questions.)
In other states, the festival organizer is responsible for collecting and remitting the sales tax on your behalf and you have no more responsibility for sales tax in that state after the event has finished.
If you’re an online seller, keep in mind that while you hold an active sales tax permit in a state, you are required to collect sales tax from all buyers in that state. #example
You live in Alabama and sell your handmade picture frames on Etsy, but once per year you sell at a craft fair in Georgia. You are required by the state of Georgia to obtain a Georgia sales tax permit. In this case, for as long as the Georgia sales tax permit is active, you are required to collect sales tax from all of your customers in Georgia, whether that sale is made online sales through Etsy or in-person sales at a craft fair in Georgia.
I hope this has helped you get a grip on sales tax at festivals, fairs, antiques shows, and other special events. If you have questions or something to say, start the conversation in the comments!