Unless you operate a business in one of the six states that don’t collect sales tax – Alaska, Hawaii, Delaware, New Hampshire, Montana and Oregon – you’ll need to collect sales tax for certain sales and services. At regular intervals – monthly, quarterly or annually, depending on the rules for your state – you’ll need to pay the sales tax you collected to the state, and fill out sales tax forms to accompany your payment. Each state has its own rules for sales tax. In some states, such as Texas, you’ll remit all sales tax in a single payment to the state. In other states, such as Colorado, you’ll make a combination of payments to both states and counties or cities, depending on where you do business. Though tax forms collect the same basic information, the actual forms themselves vary from one state to the next and from one county to the next, so follow the specific directions for the form used in your area.

Fill in your total sales for the taxing period on which you’re reporting. This includes taxable sales and services as well as non-taxable sales and services.

List all non-taxable sales and services. This includes items your state does not tax, such as certain types of merchandise or certain services. This also includes sales to tax-exempt organizations such as schools, governments and charitable organizations.

Subtract the non-taxable sales and services from total sales and services. The result is your total taxable sales and services. Multiply this number at the tax rate for your area.

Subtract any vender’s fee allowed by your state. Some states let you subtract a small percentage – one to three percent usually – of the amount you collect as a payment for collecting the tax. Not every taxing authority allows this fee. If they do, the amount left after you subtract the vender’s fee is the total sales tax you owe.

Figure your use tax. If you purchased items online for use in your business, such as office supplies, computers, advertising materials or equipment, and you did not pay sales tax on these items, you must remit use tax on these items to your state. Figure the total of all these purchases and multiply by the use tax rate. The result is the total use tax you owe.

Add the sales tax and use tax amount together. If you owe a penalty for filing your taxes late, add this in as well. This is the total you owe. Sign your form and, if you are not using a pre-printed form supplied by the state, write in your business name, address, date and tax identification number.

Write a check for the amount of tax you owe or submit an electronic payment, along with your completed sales tax form.


Obtain a sales tax license from your state and learn what items and services you’ll need to charge sales tax for.

If you use a computerized accounting program for your business, such as Quickbooks, you can print a Sales Tax Report to assist you in completing the sales tax forms.


Pay your sales taxes on time. Late payments will cost you penalties and sometimes interest.