Most businesses starting in Hawaii selling a product or offering certain services will need to register for a General Excise Tax license. This is commonly referred to as a seller’s permit, GET license or GET permit.
The GET is similar to a sales tax but is actually a privilege tax based on the gross income of most business activities in the State of Hawaii.
The General Excise Tax license is obtained through the Hawaii Department of Taxation as a part of applying for a Hawaii Tax Identification Number.
Check out the rest of this guide to find out who needs a General Excise Tax license, what products and services are taxable, how to register for a permit, and reporting requirements.
Also See: Guide to Starting a Business in Hawaii
Who needs a General Excise Tax license in Hawaii?
A business must register for a General Excise Tax license in the state of Hawaii receiving income from almost any business activity including wholesaling, retailing, farming, performing services, construction contracting, rental of personal or real property, business interest income, and even receiving royalties.
Additionally, a remote seller meeting one of the following scenarios will need to register:
- Selling $100,000 or more of tangible personal property to Hawaii residents; or
- Having 200 or more separate transactions of tangible personal property to Hawaii residents.
How to register for a General Excise Tax license in Hawaii
The General Excise Tax License can be obtained by registering online through the Hawaii Business Express website or the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Business Action Centers or by mailing in Form BB-1.
Information needed to register includes:
- Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) from the IRS, or the owner’s Social Security Number if a sole proprietorship with no employees
- Business name, address, and phone
- Type of business entity: Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation, Limited Liability Company (LLC)
- Date business began
- Accounting period (calendar year or fiscal year)
- Accounting method (cash or accrual)
- North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code
- Description of what products or services are being sold
- Names and addresses of owners/officers/members
General Excise Tax reporting
How is the General Excise Tax collected?
When a business generates income, the business is charged the GET for the privilege of doing business in Hawaii. This tax can be passed on to the customer. The business sends the tax to the Hawaii Department of Taxation.
How much is the General Excise Tax rate?
The rate that is charged varies depending on the address of the business if the purchase is made or shipped from a company located in the state. If the seller is based out of the state, the sales tax rate is based on the buyer’s address.
In addition to the statewide tax, there may be an additional county surcharge tax. To find the sales tax for your location, see the GET surcharge tax rate table from the Hawaii Department of Taxation.
When are Hawaii GET returns due?
The Department of Taxation will determine a filing frequency based on the expected annual sales volume, which will be monthly, quarterly, semiannually, or annually. Generally, a business collecting over $4,000 in GET annually will file Form G-45 monthly.
Filings are due the 20th day of the month following the reporting period, unless the 20th falls on a weekend or federal holiday, which would move to the next business day.
Even if the business had no sales during the reporting period, a filing is still required indicating no sales.
How much does a General Excise Tax license cost in Hawaii?
The fee for a General Excise Tax License is a one-time cost of $20.
How long does it take to get a Hawaii General Excise Tax license?
Expect 3-5 business days to receive a Hawaii Tax Identification Number and General Excise Tax license when registering online or 3-4 weeks when applying by mail.
After receiving the license, it must be displayed at the place of business. If there are multiple locations, a license will be needed for each location (use Form G-50 – General Excise Branch License).
Do you have to renew a Hawaii General Excise Tax license?
The General Excise Tax license is a one-time registration, and no renewals are needed. Be mindful that if any information about the business changes, such as the mailing address, additional locations, or change in ownership, those changes need to be updated with the Department of Taxation.
Is a business license the same thing as a General Excise Tax license?
In addition to registering for a sales tax permit, there may be other business licenses needed before starting a business in Hawaii.
How do I get a wholesale license in Hawaii?
A business can purchase items to resell without paying the General Excise Tax. The tax liability is passed from the distributor to the retailer, who will then charge GE tax to the end-user of the item.
Wholesalers and distributors will require a GET number and a completed Hawaii Resale Certificate (also referred to as a wholesale license, reseller’s permit, or sales tax exemption certificate)to document the items being purchased for resale.
If you have questions about the General Excise Tax license, the Hawaii Department of Taxation has a guide to sales taxes in Hawaii. The main phone number for Hawaii Taxpayer Services is 800-222-3229, or you can visit or call one of the district offices.
OAHU DISTRICT OFFICE
Princess Ruth Keelikolani Building
Honolulu, HI 96809-0259
MAUI DISTRICT OFFICE
State Office Building Molokai
54 S. High Street, #208
Wailuku, HI 96793-2198
HAWAII DISTRICT OFFICE
State Office Building
75 Aupuni Street, #101
Hilo, HI 96720-4245
KAUAI DISTRICT OFFICE
State Office Building
Eiwa Street, #105
Lihue, HI 96766-1889