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California Businesses: How to Identify and Report California Use Tax Due

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California Businesses: How to Identify and Report California Use Tax Due
California Businesses: How to Identify
and Report California Use Tax Due
PUBLICATION 123 | AUGUST 2016
BOARD MEMBERS
SEN. GEORGE RUNNER (Ret.)
First District
Lancaster
FIONA MA, CPA
Second District
San Francisco
JEROME E. HORTON
Third District
Los Angeles County
DIANE L. HARKEY
Fourth District
Orange County
BETTY T. YEE
State Controller
DAVID J. GAU
Executive Director
CALIFORNIA BUSINESSES: HOW TO IDENTIFY AND REPORT
CALIFORNIA USE TAX DUE
This publication explains how to examine your records to establish the use tax due on your purchases of physical
merchandise (for example, supplies, furniture, fixtures, and equipment) from out-of-state sellers. If your business
purchases items for use, storage, or consumption in California from a seller located outside California that does not collect
and report the California use tax, you may owe California use tax. The use tax rate is the same as your local sales tax rate.
The use tax is intended to protect California sellers who otherwise would be at a competitive disadvantage when outof-state sellers make sales of physical products to California customers without charging tax. The use tax also assures
that all businesses in the state contribute fairly to the funding of state and local programs whether they choose to make
purchases in California or outside the state.
When do you owe use tax on your purchases from out-of-state vendors?
You generally owe California use tax when you purchase physical merchandise from out-of-state sellers for use, storage,
or consumption in California. If the out-of-state seller does not collect and report the California use tax on your purchase,
then you must generally pay the use tax directly to the Board of Equalization (BOE).
If an out-of-state seller charges you California tax, you should be sure to obtain a receipt. The receipt must describe the
item and show the purchase amount, the tax amount, the seller’s name, address, and California seller’s permit number (or
use tax registration number), and your name and address.
While out-of-state sellers often apply tax at the statewide rate (currently 7.50 percent), you are liable for use tax at the
full rate in effect at the California location where you will first use the merchandise. When that location is within a special
tax district, the full tax rate in effect for the district applies (statewide tax rate + district tax rate[s]). If the seller charged
you tax at a rate lower than the rate in effect for your location, you generally owe the remaining use tax. For information
about tax rates in specific areas, please select, California City and County Sales and Use Tax Rates.
How do you review your purchase invoices for California use tax due?
Generally, if sales tax would apply when you buy physical merchandise in California, use tax applies when you make a
similar purchase from a business located outside the state.
Examine your purchase invoices from out-of-state retailers in detail to make sure the retailer collected California use
tax when it was due and that it was the correct amount (see previous section). Review of the general ledger asset
accounts and Federal Income Tax Return depreciation schedules may assist you in identifying purchases that may be
subject to use tax.
The California use tax is generally the liability of the purchaser and must be paid either directly to the BOE or to the seller
from whom the physical merchandise was purchased, if such seller holds a seller’s permit or a Certificate of Registration—
Use Tax. If you do not hold a permit or have an account with the BOE for paying your use tax, you may report and pay use
tax to the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) on your California income tax return (see below). If you believe that your out-of-state
seller may have paid use tax on your purchase, thereby relieving you of responsibility for all or part of your California use
tax liability, you may contact your out-of-state seller to verify their tax payment to the BOE.
Are “Shipping and Handling” charges subject to California use tax?
Shipping charges are generally exempt from tax provided they are:
1. For delivery directly to the purchaser by common carrier, contract carrier, or US Mail;
2. The invoice clearly lists delivery, shipping, freight, or postage as a separate charge; and
3. The charge is not higher than the actual cost for delivery*.
*To verify the actual shipping costs you should contact the seller. Without evidence of the actual cost, the consumer must
pay use tax on the entire shipping charge related to the purchase of a taxable item.
AUGUST 2016 | CALIFORNIA BUSINESSES: HOW TO IDENTIFY AND REPORT CALIFORNIA USE TAX DUE
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If any of the three requirements are not met, the shipping charge is generally taxable. If “handling” is charged with
shipping, the handling portion of the charge is subject to tax. Tax does not apply to charges for shipping and handling
associated with nontaxable sales, for example, sales for resale (publication 100, Shipping and Delivery Charges).
How do I pay the California use tax?
• Californiaseller’spermit
If you hold a seller’s permit, you must pay use tax due when filing your sales and use tax return. You must enter
the amount of your purchase(s) under “purchases subject to use tax” on the return for the period that includes the
date when you first used, stored, or consumed the item in California. When you receive your seller’s permit, we will
instruct you to file your tax return either on a quarterly or quarterly prepay basis. Your tax return and payment are
due after the close of each reporting period. For example, if you are on a quarterly reporting basis, the reporting
period for the first quarter closes on March 31, your tax return and payment are due on April 30, the last day of the
following month.
• Requiredregistrationtoreportusetax
California law requires a “qualified purchaser” to register with the BOE and annually report and pay use tax directly
to us. You can register on our website at www.boe.ca.gov, by selecting New Registration, and then select Register
a business activity with BOE. You can also register to report use tax in person at any of our field offices. A qualified
purchaser includes any business with at least $100,000 in annual gross receipts from business operations. Gross
receipts are the total of all receipts from both in-state and out-of-state business operations. A qualified purchaser
is required to file a return, and report and pay use tax on the total purchase price of tangible merchandise that
is subject to use tax during the preceding calendar year, and for which tax was not paid to a retailer required to
collect the use tax. The return along with payment is due by April 15 of the following calendar year. For example,
the return for 2013, along with the payment, is due by April 15, 2014.
For additional information, see publication 126, Mandatory Use Tax Registration for Service Enterprises.
• Californiaincometaxreturn
If you do not hold a permit with the BOE for paying your use tax as described above, you may report and pay use
tax to the FTB on your California income tax return. A Use Tax Table is included with the instructions for the FTB
income tax return; it is a tool to assist you in reporting use tax when filing your annual income tax return. The Use
Tax Table is only used for personal purchases less than $1,000, not for business purchases. Business purchases
subject to use tax should be reported using actual business purchase receipts. The due date for use tax is the same
as the due date for your state income tax return. The date the use tax liability was incurred must be within the tax
year being reported on your state income tax return. The FTB will forward the use tax collected to the BOE. If you
are a qualified purchaser you are required to register with the BOE to report and pay use tax.
• Consumerusetaxaccount
If you make frequent taxable purchases from out-of-state sellers and are not required to register for a use tax
account as a qualified purchaser, you may register with us and obtain a consumer use tax account to report your
purchases subject to use tax. You can register on our website at www.boe.ca.gov, by selecting New Registration,
and then select Register a business activity with BOE. Once you have registered, you may pay any use tax due by
filing your return. You can also register to report use tax in person at any of our field offices.
We will give you an account number and instruct you to file your return either quarterly or quarterly pre-pay basis.
Your tax return and payment are due after the close of each reporting period. For example, if you are on a quarterly
reporting basis, the reporting period for the first quarter closes on March 31, your tax return and payment are due
on April 30, the last day of the following month.
• Vehicles,vessels,andaircraft
Special rules and reporting requirements apply to these purchases. Please see Regulation 1610, Vehicles, Vessels,
and Aircraft and the following publications:
• Publication 52, Vehicles and Vessels: How to Request a Use Tax Certificate for DMV Registration.
• Publication 79, Documented Vessels and California Tax.
• Publication 79A, Aircraft and California Tax.
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CALIFORNIA BUSINESSES: HOW TO IDENTIFY AND REPORT CALIFORNIA USE TAX DUE | AUGUST 2016
You may also call our Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115 for assistance.
• PurchaseSubjecttoUseTaxonOneTimePurchase
If you do not have a seller’s permit and are not required to register for a use tax account as a qualified purchaser,
you can report your purchase(s) subject to use tax on our website at www.boe.ca.gov by selecting New
Registration, and then select Pay use tax and/or the lumber products assessment on one time purchase. Once you
have registered, you can pay any use tax due by filing your return. You can also register to report use tax in person
at any of our field offices. Use tax is due on purchases made prior to 2012 by January 31, of the following calendar
year. Use tax is due on your purchase(s) made after January 1, 2012, by April 15 of the following calendar year in
which you first purchased and used the property in California. Penalty and interest applies to payments received
after the due date. Please contact our Customer Service Center for assistance at 1-800-400-7115.
AUGUST 2016 | CALIFORNIA BUSINESSES: HOW TO IDENTIFY AND REPORT CALIFORNIA USE TAX DUE
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FOR MORE INFORMATION
For additional information or assistance with how the Sales and Use Tax Law applies to your business operations, please take
advantage of the resources listed below.
CUSTOMER SERVICE CENTER
1-800-400-7115
TTY:711
Customer service representatives are available
weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Pacific
time), except state holidays. In addition
to English, assistance is available in other
languages.
FIELD OFFICES
City
Area
Code
Number
Bakersfield
1-661
395-2880
Culver City
1-310
342-1000
El Centro
1-760
352-3431
Fairfield
1-707
427-4800
Fresno
1-559
440-5330
Glendale
1-818
543-4900
Irvine
1-949
440-3473
Norwalk
1-562
466-1694
Oakland
1-510
622-4100
Rancho Cucamonga
1-909
257-2900
Rancho Mirage
1-760
770-4828
Redding
1-530
224-4729
Riverside
1-951
680-6400
Sacramento
1-916
227-6700
Salinas
1-831
443-3003
San Diego
1-858
385-4700
San Francisco
1-415
356-6600
San Jose
1-408
277-1231
Santa Clarita
1-661
222-6000
Santa Rosa
1-707
576-2100
Ventura
1-805
677-2700
West Covina
1-626
480-7200
You can log onto our website for additional information—such as laws, regulations, forms,
publications, and policy manuals—that will help you understand how the law applies to
your business.
You can also verify seller’s permit numbers on the BOE website (look for “Verify a Permit/
License”) or call our toll-free automated verification service at 1-888-225-5263.
Multilingual versions of publications are available on our website at www.boe.ca.gov.
Another good resource—especially for starting businesses—is the California Tax Service
Center at www.taxes.ca.gov.
TAX INFORMATION BULLETIN
The quarterly Tax Information Bulletin (TIB) includes articles on the application of law to
specific types of transactions, announcements about new and revised publications, and
other articles of interest. You can find current and archived TIBs on our website at
www.boe.ca.gov/news/tibcont.htm. Sign up for our BOE updates email list and receive
notification when the latest issue of the TIB has been posted to our website.
FREE CLASSES AND SEMINARS
Most of our statewide field offices offer free basic sales and use tax classes with some
classes offered in other languages. Check the Sales and Use Tax Section on our website at
www.boe.ca.gov for a listing of classes and locations. You can also call your local field office
for class information. We also offer online seminars including the Basic Sales and Use Tax
tutorial and how to file your tax return that you can access on our website at any time.
Some online seminars are also offered in other languages.
WRITTEN TAX ADVICE
For your protection, it is best to get tax advice in writing. You may be relieved of tax,
penalty, or interest charges that are due on a transaction if we determine that we gave
you incorrect written advice regarding the transaction and that you reasonably relied on
that advice in failing to pay the proper amount of tax. For this relief to apply, a request
for advice must be in writing, identify the taxpayer to whom the advice applies, and fully
describe the facts and circumstances of the transaction.
Please visit our website at: www.boe.ca.gov/info/email.html to email your request. You may
also send your request in a letter to: Audit and Information Section, MIC:44, State Board of
Equalization, P.O. Box 942879, Sacramento, CA 94279-0044.
TAXPAYERS’ RIGHTS ADVOCATE
If you would like to know more about your rights as a taxpayer or if you have not been
able to resolve a problem through normal channels (for example, by speaking to a
supervisor), please see Understanding Your Rights as a California Taxpayer, publication 70.
or contact the Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate Office for help at 1-916-324-2798 (or toll-free,
1-888-324-2798). Their fax number is 1-916-323-3319.
If you prefer, you can write to: Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate, MIC:70; State Board of
Equalization; P.O. Box 942879; Sacramento, CA 94279-0070.
Out-of-StateFieldOffices
Chicago, IL
1-312
201-5300
Houston, TX
1-713
739-3900
New York, NY
1-212
697-4680
Sacramento, CA
1-916
227-6600
4
INTERNET
www.boe.ca.gov
CALIFORNIA BUSINESSES: HOW TO IDENTIFY AND REPORT CALIFORNIA USE TAX DUE | AUGUST 2016
Regulations and publications
Lists vary by publication
Selected regulations, forms, and publications that may interest you are listed below. A complete listing of sales and use
tax regulations, forms, and publications appears on our website. Multilingual versions of our publications and other
multilingual outreach materials are also available at www.boe.ca.gov/languages/menu.htm.
Regulations
1628 Transportation Charges
1684
Collection of Use Tax by Retailers
1685
Payment of Tax by Purchasers
1686
Receipts for Tax Paid to Retailers
1823
Application of Transactions (Sales) Tax and Use Tax
1827
Collection of Use Tax by Retailers
Publications
79 Documented Vessels and California Tax
79A
Aircraft and California Tax
100
Shipping and Delivery Charges
110
California Use Tax Basics
126
Mandatory Use Tax Registration for Service Enterprises
AUGUST 2016 | CALIFORNIA BUSINESSES: HOW TO IDENTIFY AND REPORT CALIFORNIA USE TAX DUE
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STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION • 450 N STREET • SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA
MAILING ADDRESS: P.O. BOX 942879 • SACRAMENTO, CA 94279-0001 • LDA
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