Can you please direct me to information about taxation for services and sales provided via the Internet? We are a distribution
network for independent music, and we provide direct Internet sales for bands and labels through our business.
Whether or not businesses should be required to collect sales tax for products and services they sell over the Internet is a
highly political issue, under debate in various jurisdictions. The rules are in flux, and the subject complex. So you should
discuss this issue with your accountant to make sure your company complies with federal and state tax guidelines.
For the time being, tax authorities view Internet businesses in much the same light as mail-order companies. That means you
need only charge sales tax on orders from residents of states in which your company physically does business or has what is
known as a "nexus." The definition of nexus varies with the exact circumstance. Still, if you have a warehouse in a particular
state, a sales staff on the company payroll, or an office, you probably have a nexus there and should collect sales tax from
buyers in that state.
"The rules are pretty straightforward with an Internet seller selling a tangible product," says David Flamer, a CPA with the
Woodland Hills (Calif.) accounting firm of Lasher, Flamer & Associates. You could also visit the Web sites of the states in
which your company has a presence and look at the state tax agency's rules and guidelines, Flamer suggests.
Have a question about running your business? Ask our small-business experts. Send us an E-mail at email@example.com, or write to Smart Answers, BW Online,
Avenue of the
Americas, New York, NY 10020. Please include your real name and phone number in case we need more information; only
city will be printed.
Because of the volume of mail, we won't be able to respond to all questions personally.