Software Sales Tax in the United States 🇺🇸

How do I solve my tax liability?
Agony Rating
Sales Tax Rate
Taxable Goods
Highest Penalty

How likely am I to get caught for owing sales tax in United States?

Very likely. Downloadable applications are taxable in 80% of states and cloud-based SaaS products are taxable in about 50% of states.

What is the sales tax threshold in United States?

The sales tax threshold varies by state.

Is SaaS taxable in United States?

Yes. You owe tax for the sale of cloud software subscriptions to customers in United States.

Are software downloads taxable in United States?

Yes. You owe tax for the sale of software downloads to customers in United States.

Are eBooks taxable in United States?

Yes. You owe tax for the sale of eBooks to customers in United States.

Are digital downloads taxable in United States?

Yes. You owe tax for the sale of digital downloads to customers in United States.

Registering for sales tax in the United States

The US tax system is perhaps the most complex. Software is taxed differently across states and in some cases even counties and cities will have their own regulations – totaling over 11,000 jurisdictions to be aware of!

The process for registering is different in each state. Some involve extremely long, complex forms to the point where it’s probably easier to get a tax agent to help you. 

Most states have a blanket registration that cascades down to cities and counties. However, there are some exceptions, called home rules. In states like Colorado, for example, Denver has a separate registration process – just to keep things interesting!

Filing & Remittance of sales tax in United States

You’ll need to file and remit your sales taxes for every state you are registered with separately.

Each state will have its own rules on how often you need to complete this process. In some, it’s a set filing and remitting frequency, for example, quarterly or annually, whereas in others you have to file and remit monthly when your sales into that state reach a certain threshold (we did tell you the US is the most complex!). 

Each time you file, you’ll need to make sure you’ve calculated how much tax you owe based on the sales tax rates that are in place when the sale is made. Some jurisdictions will notify you by email that something has changed where others still prefer post – which, if you aren’t based in the US and don’t keep up with the latest changes, can mean you might owe more tax than you have actually collected from your customers.

Penalties for sales tax non-compliance in the United States

😩🌶️🌶️🌶️ It's crippling to the business / person

Unsurprisingly, the penalties for non-compliance vary by state too.

The penalties are usually more severe when they are given as the result of an audit, where a business has evaded its tax liabilities.

However, in some states (New York being one example) a late payment can see you served a heavy fine, with interest on the tax owed. This might not seem like such a problem but it means even if you send a payment on the day it’s due, it could be deemed late because you need to allow time for the department of revenue to receive and process the funds.

Had enough yet? There's more…

🇺🇸 United States tax jurisdictions

Tax jurisdiction
Sales tax rate
Taxable goods
Admin agony
Worst penalty
Total tax agony rating
🇺🇸 Iowa
🇺🇸 Ohio
🇺🇸 Utah
How do I solve my tax liability?