Hawaii Sales Tax Guide
Chapter 5: Filing and paying Hawaii sales tax
You're registered with the Hawaii Department of Taxation and you've begun collecting sales tax. Congratulations! Remember, those tax dollars don't belong to you. As an agent of the state of Hawaii, your role is that of intermediary transferring tax dollars from consumers to state and local tax authorities. Let's take a deeper look at how filing Hawaii general excise tax returns impacts your business.What does it mean to file an Hawaii general excise tax return?
Technically speaking, filing Hawaii general excise tax returns is a two-step process comprised of submitting the required sales data and remitting the collected tax dollars (if any) to state and local tax authorities.
In most states, there are a number of options for submitting sales tax data to the state. Business owners may complete a Hawaii sales tax filing form and mail it to the Hawaii Department of Taxation or they can file electronically online. In all states, filing online is recommended.
The filing process forces the business owner to detail their total sales, the amount of general excise tax they have collected, and from where. The Hawaii Department of Taxation wants to be kept up to date on your business growth (or lack thereof) to make sure they are getting the tax dollars due. By completing ongoing filing of monthly, quarterly, or semi-annual, or annual Hawaii sales tax returns, they stay abreast of your growing company.When am I required to file my general excise tax return?
The Hawaii Department of Taxation will assign you a filing frequency. Typically, this is determined by the size of your business. State governments typically ask larger businesses to file more frequently. Visit our Hawaii filing due dates page for more information.Am I required to file and pay my Hawaii sales tax at the same time?
Hawaii general excise tax returns must be filed and paid at the same time and are governed by the same due date.I want to webfile my Hawaii sales tax. What are my options?
Avalara has built the TrustFile product to allow business owners a quick and easy way to prepare and webfile Hawaii sales tax returns. Users can sign up and use the service to prepare Hawaii returns free for 30-days.
Filers may also file directly with the Hawaii Department of Taxation by visiting their site and entering your transaction data manually. This is a free service, but preparing Hawaii sales tax (breaking it down by jurisdiction) can be time consuming - especially for larger sellers.Can a 3rd party file my general excise tax on my behalf?
Yes! Many business owners recognize they are not a tax professional and therefore, choose to outsource their general excise tax sales and use tax filing to services like Avalara TrustFile or to an accountant or bookkeeper. This is a normal business practice that can save business owners time and help them avoid costly mistakes due to inexperience and a lack of deep knowledge about Hawaii sales tax code.What happens if I file or pay my general excise tax return late?
Do I need to file a return if I didn't collect any general excise tax in Hawaii?
Yes! Once you've successfully registered for and been issued a General Excise Tax (GET) License, you are required to file at the completion of each assigned collection period regardless of whether any general excise tax was collected. This is what is known as a "zero-tax filing".
Failure to submit a required zero-tax filing can result in penalties imposed on your business by the Hawaii Department of Taxation so don't take this responsibility lightly.If I close my business, do I need to file a final general excise tax return?
Yes! The Hawaii Department of Taxation requires all businesses to "close their books" by filing a final general excise tax return. This also holds true for business owners selling or otherwise transferring ownership of their business.Does the Hawaii Department of Taxation offer a discount for filing on time?
At this time, the Hawaii Department of Taxation does not offer general excise tax filers a vendor discount.