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Retailer Redefined in Wisconsin


 Lawmakers recognize the power of language.

Ah, the power to define and redefine. Samuel Johnson must have felt it when he published the Dictionary of the English Language in 1755. And the Wisconsin Legislature must feel it now, having changed the definition of “retailer” for Wisconsin sales and use tax purposes.

Effective July 14, 2015, a retailer who operates a distribution facility in Wisconsin is not liable for sales and use tax on “sales of tangible personal property and items on behalf of third-party sellers” provided the person or any of the person’s affiliates meets all of the following conditions:

  • Operates a distribution facility
  • Sells the tangible personal property or items under sec. 77.52(1)(b), Wis. Stats. on behalf of a 3rd party seller and:
    • The 3rd party seller owns the tangible personal property or items under sec. 77.52(1)(b), Wis. Stats., and is disclosed to the customer as the seller.
  • Does not make any sales for which the customer takes possession of the tangible personal property or items under sec. 77.52(1)(b), Wis. Stats., at a location operated by the person or any of the person’s affiliates.

Please note that this amendment does not apply to the following (taken directly from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue):

  • Sales at auction
  • Sales of tangible personal property or items under sec. 77.52(1)(b), Wis. Stats., owned or previously owned by the person operating the distribution facility or by any of the person's affiliates
  • Sales of any of the following that are registered or titled, or required to be registered or titled, in Wisconsin or the United States:
    • Aircraft
    • All-terrain vehicles
    • Boats
    • Motor vehicles
    • Recreational vehicles (as defined in sec. 340.01(48r), Wis. Stats.)
    • Semi-trailers
    • Snowmobiles
    • Trailers
    • Utility terrain vehicles

Prior to the change (prior to July 14, 2015), retailers operating a distribution facility in Wisconsin could have been held liable for the payment of sales tax if the principal did not pay the sales tax and the following conditions were met:

  • The person was acting for a known or disclosed principal.
  • The person had possession of tangible personal property owned by the principal.
  • The person made sales of tangible personal property owned by the principal.

Additional information.

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Sales tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.