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Temporary Sales Tax Permits 101

  • Jun 5, 2016 | Jessica Sillers

Not all relationships are meant to last, including business relationships. If your business’ presence in a state is more like a fling than a long-term affair, a temporary sales tax permit can help you keep things low-key.

Which Permit Do I Need?

Several types of businesses may be eligible for temporary rather than permanent sales tax permits. Traveling vendors are a clear example. Businesses that come to sell goods and taxable services at concerts, festivals, craft shows, or other events only need to have an active sales tax permit for a few days or weeks. It may be easier to get a permit just for the event than hold a permanent permit for a state in which you rarely do business.

Temporary permits can also be the best fit for seasonal vendors. There’s not much of a market for indoor pine and fir trees outside of December. Fireworks sales spike in late June and early July (and the weeks leading up to May 5, if you live close to the Mexican border), but fizzle the rest of the year.

If you can’t keep away from your favorite state, it may be time to make the relationship permanent. Maryland follows a “third time’s the charm” policy, requiring businesses to register a permanent permit if they’ll visit more than twice a year. Iowa hopes business owners will commit to a permanent sales tax permit right away. But they do offer vendors temporary permits through event sponsors.

Your business plans can also affect the kind of sales tax permit you need. In Utah, for example, you need a permanent permit to buy items tax-free for resale.

How Do I Apply?

Once you’ve determined that a temporary sales tax permit is best for your situation, go to the state’s Department of Revenue or Board of Equalization website. You’ll find application forms and instructions, as well as the permit's rules, including how long the temporary permit is valid.

Your eligibility for a temporary sales tax permit will vary by state, so double-check what you qualify for. In New York, for example, show and entertainment vendors may not apply for a temporary certificate. Ohio requires different forms and fees depending on whether you fit their definition of a transient vendor or a seller.

The specific details you’ll need to provide on your application vary by state as well. Here are some common application requirements:

  • Your and any of your business partners’ SSN
  • Your Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) code
  • Name, address, and other contact information for your business
  • Name, address, and dates for the event you’re attending

This is also the best time to check sales tax exemptions if you think your merchandise might qualify.

If you’re submitting an application online, your permit may arrive in a few days, or even sooner. Paper mail takes longer, so allow plenty of time. Three weeks is often enough for you to receive the permit in time. After the event, file your sales tax returns on time and start dreaming of your next trip.

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.
Avalara Author
Jessica Sillers
Avalara Author Jessica Sillers