Sales Tax 101

Sales Taxies 2017! Which state will take home the gold?

by Jennifer Dunn

TaxJar Sales Tax Awards 2017

It’s Academy Awards Week, but at TaxJar the Oscars pale in comparison to our very own awards: The 4th Annual Sales Taxies!

Every year we keep an eye on state sales tax departments to find the cream of the crop. Do you agree with this year’s Sales Taxies? Did we leave off a state that should have won a Sales Taxy? Or get one totally wrong? Let us know in the comments!

And the award goes to:

Best Sales Tax Simplification: Arizona

We’ve been waiting at least two years to give Arizona this award. The state has been promising to update and simplify how online sellers file and pay the state’s Transaction Privilege Tax (TPT), and late last year they finally made significant steps in that direction. If you are an Arizona sales tax filer, you will be able to file any returns due after January 1, 2017 in just one spot – the Arizona Department of Revenue Website – instead of logging in at various cities to file and pay. And the forms are more standardized now, too!

You can read more about the simplifications in Arizona here.

Best FAQ: South Carolina

If you’ve been in the sales tax world for long, you’ll notice that getting a straight answer from a state website can be next to impossible. Many times it’s easiest to turn to the state’s actual code of sales tax laws. Of course, at that point, you need to be prepared to decipher a whole lot of legalese.

That’s why South Carolina’s comprehensive Sales Tax FAQ is deserving of a Sales Taxy this year. The state has answered practically every question an online seller could ask about sales tax, and also cites the sales tax code should you wish to go and look up the laws yourself. Thanks for answering our questions, South Carolina!

Best Industry Specific Sales Tax Guides: Washington

Are you a beekeeper? A marijuana business owner? A denturist? Then the Washington State Department of Revenue has an industry-specific tax guide for you. Covering more than just sales tax, these guides help business owners with specific tax issues figure out how to operate in Washington. Be sure to check out Washington’s “Out-of-State Business Guide” if you’re an online seller with nexus in Washington. Handy!

Best Website Upgrade: TIE between West Virginia and Hawaii

State Department of Revenue Websites are not known for their cutting edge web design or intuitive user experience. So that’s why we’re always happy to see a website makeover. Both the West Virginia State Tax Department and the Hawaii Department of Taxation unveiled better websites last year. West Virginia’s new look is simple and easy to navigate. Hawaii does them one better with an upgraded look and a hibiscus motif (the Hawaii state flower!) so you never forget which state you’re looking at as you navigate through tax laws and sales tax FAQs. Congrats to West Virginia and Hawaii for making the web a little brighter!

Best Customer Service: Florida Department of Revenue

Over the year the state of Florida has exhibited consistently helpful customer service. In particular, one rep was extremely helpful in helping us identify the “Florida Business Partner ID” on the Florida sales tax certificate. (Hint: It’s very well hidden.) In a world where talking on the phone with sales tax departments can be a looooooong and frustrating process, the Sunshine State is well… a ray of sunshine.

And that’s it! How’d we do? Do you have your own Sales Taxy to give out? Or do you think we got one totally wrong? Leave your own Sales Tax Awards in the comments!

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