Sales Tax: FSA Eligibility
What is a sales tax?
A sales tax is a tax paid to the government for the sales of certain goods and services. The law typically requires the seller to collect these funds from the consumer at the point of purchase, and then funds are passed on to the government. A business is liable for sales taxes in a given jurisdiction if it has some sort of nexus there, which can be a brick-and-mortar location, an employee, an affiliate, or some other presence (Investopedia).
What is the sales tax rate?
The rates can vary from place to place. For example, the sales tax in Chicago, IL is 10.25% while the rate in Fairfax, VA is 6%. In some jurisdictions of the United States, there are multiple levels of government which each impose a sales tax, from federal and state to country and city. These rates can also differ widely; for example, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the tax is 9%, consisting of 4% state and 5% local rate. In L.A. it is also 9%, but it consists of 7.5% state and 1.5% county rate (Tax Foundation).
What are some exemptions from the sales tax?
Often laws provide for the exemption of certain goods or services from sales and use tax. Necessity goods including foods, medicines and clothing are often exempt from sales tax. In addition, items such as services, real property, and intangibles such as digital goods may be exempt. These types of exemptions do not require any form of exemption documentation.
Sales to businesses that later resell the goods are not charged the tax. A purchaser that is not an end user is usually issued a "resale certificate" by the taxing authority and required to provide the certificate to a seller at the point of purchase, along with a statement that the item is for resale. Additional use exemptions are often available in certain industries including agriculture, manufacturing or industrial processing.
Lastly, goods that are sold to the federal government cannot be taxed. Similar exemptions are also often available at the state and local governments and agencies level as well as non-profit organizations or other recognized charitable, religious or educational groups.