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How To Register For A Wisconsin Seller’s Permit

How To Register For A Wisconsin Seller’s Permit

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How To Register For A Wisconsin Seller’s Permit

Most businesses starting in Wisconsin that are selling a product or offering certain services will need to register for a seller’s permit.  This is commonly referred to as a sales tax permit, sales tax license, sales tax number, or sales tax registration.   

The seller’s permit is obtained through the Wisconsin Department of Revenue as a part of applying for the Wisconsin Business Tax Registration.  In addition to the seller’s permit, the Business Tax Registration allows a business to register for withholding tax and Use Tax Certificate.

Related: How to start a business in Wisconsin

Who needs a seller’s permit in Wisconsin?

A business must register for a seller’s permit in Wisconsin when making retail sales (this includes not only stores but selling locally at festivals, trade shows, and other events), leases, or rentals of tangible personal property or taxable services in Wisconsin unless all sales are exempt from sales or use tax.

A seller’s permit will not be issued to wholesalers, manufacturers, and other businesses not making direct retail sales of tangible property or taxable services. 

What products and services are taxable in Wisconsin?

Physical products

There are a few exceptions, but almost all physical products are taxable when sold at retail in Wisconsin.  Common examples include:

  • General merchandise like furniture, appliances, and clothing
  • Titled or registered items like vehicles

Certain manufacturing and agriculture equipment, diaper services, some groceries, prescription medicine, and medical devices are tax-exempt.

See the full list of tax-exempt items in Wisconsin.

Labor, in most cases, isn’t taxable in Wisconsin.  For instance, let’s say you broke the screen of your cell phone and took it to a cell phone repair shop to have it fixed.  Sales tax would be added to the selling price of the new screen and any additional parts to fix the phone.  The labor to replace the screen isn’t taxable.  However, a business that makes furniture will indirectly have a sales tax on labor.  In this instance, let’s say this business is building a dining room table for a customer.  Through labor, the pieces of wood are shaped, sanded, and painted to build this piece of furniture.  While the labor isn’t directly taxable, sales tax is charged to the final selling price of the table. 

Digital Products

Digital products are taxable in Wisconsin.

Services

Most services aren’t taxable in Wisconsin, however, there are a few exceptions, some of which include:

  • Access or use of amusement devices
  • Admission to amusement, athletic, entertainment, or recreational places or events
  • Landscaping and lawn maintenance services
  • Laundry and dry-cleaning services
  • Photography services
  • Short-term lodging
  • Towing services

See the full list of taxable services in Wisconsin.

How to register for a seller’s permit in Wisconsin

A seller’s permit can be obtained by registering online through the One Stop Business Portal or by mailing in the BTR-101 Form.

Information needed to register includes:

Sales tax reporting

How is sales tax collected?

When a business sells a taxable product or service, it charges the customer the appropriate sales tax rate. The business collects this tax, which it then sends to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.

How much is sales tax in Wisconsin?

If the purchase is made at a store or in a mobile location, the sales tax rate varies depending on the address where the sale took place. When shipping in-state, the sales tax is based on the address of the purchaser.

Some counties may add additional local sales taxes in addition to the statewide tax. To find sales tax rates, see the Wisconsin Department of Revenue’s sales tax rates by zip code.

When are Wisconsin sales tax returns due?

The Department of Revenue will determine a filing frequency based on the expected volume of sales, which will be monthly, quarterly, or annually.  Generally, a business selling over $400 each month will file monthly. 

Filings are due on the last day of the month following the reporting period unless the last day of the month falls on a weekend or federal holiday, in which case it 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 occurred.

Wisconsin Seller’s Permit FAQs

How much does a Wisconsin seller’s permit cost?

There is no cost for a seller’s permit in Wisconsin, however before it can be applied for, the Business Tax Registration filing fee is $20.

In some cases, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue will require the business to also have a security deposit before issuing the seller’s permit.

Is a business license the same thing as a seller’s permit?

No – A business license and a sales tax permit are not the same thing.

A business license gives you the right to operate your business in a specific area, while a sales tax permit allows you to collect sales tax from your customers on behalf of the state.

Related: Wisconsin business licenses

How long does it take to get a Wisconsin seller’s permit?

To receive a seller’s permit, expect 2-3 business days when applying online and up to three weeks when registering by mail.

After receiving the seller’s permit, it must be displayed in a prominent location in the business.

Do you have to renew a Wisconsin seller’s permit?

The seller’s permit 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 Revenue.

How do I get a wholesale license in Wisconsin?

A business can purchase items to resell without paying the retail sales tax.  The tax liability is passed from the wholesaler or distributor to the retailer, who will then charge state sales tax to the end-user of the item. 

Wholesalers and distributors will require a sales tax number, and the reseller will fill out a Wisconsin Sales Tax Exemption Certificate (also referred to as a resale certificate or seller’s permit) to document that the items being purchased are for resale. 

Questions

If you have questions about the seller’s permit, the Department of Revenue has Publication 201 – Wisconsin Sales and Use Tax Information. You can also contact them by calling 608-266-2776 or emailing DORBusinessTax@wisconsin.gov.

How To Register For A Wisconsin Seller’s Permit

How To Register For A Wisconsin Seller’s Permit

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