California Sales Tax Guide

A step-by-step guide to understanding California sales tax rules.


If you're selling goods in the state of California and you have nexus, then you're on the hook for sales tax collection and remittance. We'll walk you through the ins and outs of getting registered to legally collect tax and pass along to the California Board of Equalization. It should be noted that businesses filing with quarterly prepay reporting basis will need to submit prepayments of on the 24th of the months prior to the quarterly filing deadline. For example, the Q1 quarterly reporting deadline is April 30. Prepayments should be submitted February 24th and March 24th.

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Table of Contents

An Overview of California Sales Tax

Understanding where, when, and how to collect California sales tax is no easy task. Whether you're collecting tax dollars at the point-of-sale or collecting California internet sales tax, our guide will break down the sales tax compliance process into focused, easy to understand chapters.

California Sales Tax Nexus

Understanding whether you need to collect, file, and remit California sales tax depends on a concept known as nexus. In this chapter, we'll take a look at situations that may trigger in California such as storing inventory in the state, hiring state residents, and click-through nexus.

Registering to Collect California Sales Tax

You'll want to get started establishing California sales tax compliance by understanding how to get your business registered for the necessary sales tax permit. We'll walk you through the process and help you understand when is the best time to get your business registered in California.

Collecting Sales Tax in California

After you've registered your business with the California Board of Equalization, you're ready to begin collecting sales tax. We'll review topics such as California sales tax exemptions, sales tax holidays, and determining state and local sales tax rates.

Filing California Sales Tax Returns

Now that you're business is registered with the California Board of Equalization and collecting sales tax, you'll need to file tax returns in an ongoing basis. We'll help you gain a deep understand of the process of filing sales tax returns. Topic covered include filing frequencies, filing on behalf of a client, and what happens if you file late.

California Sales Tax Filing Due Dates

Every business that registers to collect California sales tax will be assigned a filing frequency. In this chapter, we'll take a look at the filing frequencies and associated due dates supported by the California Board of Equalization.

Late Filing Penalties, Fines & Interest

We know, mistakes happen and, from time to time, sales tax filing deadlines are missed. In this chapter, we'll take a look at what penalties you may be required to pay should you miss your assigned California sales tax filing date. We'll also consider interest charges for late sales tax payments.

Sales Tax on California Shipping & Handling

The rise of the internet economy has made it possible for buyers around the world to order your products. Did you know shipping and handling may be taxable? In this chapter we'll cover sales tax on shipping and handling in California. You'll want to pay attention here because there are some important details pertaining to invoicing you'll want to understand.