North Carolina Sales Tax Guide
Chapter 3: Getting registered to collect North Carolina sales tax
The first step toward proper management of North Carolina sales tax involves getting registered with the North Carolina Division of Taxation. We get a lot of questions regarding this and recognize it may be the most difficult hurdle for small businesses to overcome. Registering to collect sales tax in North Carolina means you've acknowledged your legal responsibility to collect and consequently file and remit sales tax to the state.When do I need to register to collect sales tax in North Carolina?
There are two ways to think about this question. The first involves a topic called "nexus". Nexus, in the tax world refers to a company's connection to a state. While this connection is typically that of a physical nature (warehouse in the North Carolina, inventory in North Carolina, etc.), nexus is not limited to a physical presence. There are many nexus triggers we won't delve into here and, more importantly, nexus is often determined by a combination of events rather than a single event.
If it is determined you have nexus in North Carolina, the North Carolina Division of Taxation has the legal right to require you to collect, file, and pay sales tax.
If you've determined you have nexus in North Carolina, the second question involves a topic we call "materiality". In short, you'll want to ask yourself whether the amount of sales tax you are required to collect and remit to the North Carolina Division of Taxation is enough to put you at an unacceptable level of penalty and interest risk. As everyone's level of risk tolerance is different, this is a question that can only be answered by you, the business owner.
Prior to selling taxable goods or offering taxable services in North Carolina, a business that has established nexus within the state is required to register for an Sales and Use Tax Account ID.What triggers nexus in North Carolina?
Nexus is a complex topic that, depending on your situation, may require the in-depth knowledge of a qualified tax professional. That being said, there are a few common business events and situations that are known to trigger nexus in North Carolina. The most common include the following:
- Opening an office in North Carolina
- Storing inventory in a warehouse in North Carolina
- Having remote employees located in North Carolina
Businesses may register for an North Carolina Sales and Use Tax Account ID online by visiting the North Carolina Division of Taxation and following the instructions provided.
It is also possible to get registered for a Sales and Use Tax Account ID by completing and mailing in a Business Registration Application for Income Tax Withholding, Sales and Use Tax, and Machinery and Equipment Tax (NC-BR), but this approach is not recommended. Form based registration is being phased out in favor of online registration. It’s fast, free, and more reliable than mailing in a completed paper form.What information is required to register for a North Carolina Sales and Use Tax Account ID ?
When applying for a North Carolina Sales and Use Tax Account ID, there are a number of pieces of information that may be required. These include, but are likely not limited to:
- Business name
- Business entity type
- Description of business activities
- Date business activities began or will begin
- Business address and mailing address
- Business contact information
- The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code that best matches your business
- Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)
- Your name, Social Security Number (SSN), driver license number, personal address, and personal contact information of owner/sole proprietor
- List of business officers, partners, managing members, and/or trustees
- Employment information (date of hire, number of employees, payroll amounts, payroll agent’s PTIN, if applicable)
The cost to register for a North Carolina Sales and Use Tax Account ID is currently $0.Do I need a Federal EIN in order to register in North Carolina?
The North Carolina Division of Taxation requires businesses requesting a new Sales and Use Tax Account ID to supply a valid Federal EIN number during the initial registration process. You can apply for an EIN number online by visiting the IRS website.Which North Carolina governement agencies do I need to register with in order to get a new Sales and Use Tax Account ID?
We recommend you contact the North Carolina Division of Taxation to verify which government agencies you will be required to register with. Potential agencies include the following:
- North Carolina Department of Revenue
- North Carolina State Employment Agency
- North Carolina State Department of Labor
- North Carolina Local Tax Jurisdictions
Yes! North Carolina Sales and Use Tax Account ID registration is unique to the state of a business. The North Carolina Division of Taxation requires all registered businesses to have current business owner name and contact information on file.