Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sales Tax Fun

When we went into business in 1995 (almost 20 years ago, eep!), I decided that I was going to get all our bureaucratic ducks in a row in terms of registering as a business with the IRS, state, etc.

In the mid-2000s, Wisconsin started requiring organizers of things like SCA events to collect forms from vendors listing vendor names, addresses, registration numbers, etc.  In late 2008 I discovered Illinois has a similar program, and there's a form for vendors to pay their sales taxes for that event within XYZ formula time period that the organizer can/should provide. Department of Revenue (DoR) agents can also collect taxes at an event. More details here at the IL DoR web page about the program. Doing a quick search on the DoR website, the program has been in operation since at least 2005.

Most of the SCA events and conventions I've done in Illinois since then do not seem to be aware of the requirements, or have only done the reporting-to-DoR part and not the distribution-of-forms part, or otherwise haven't mentioned it.  Nor have I ever seen a DoR agent at any such event.

With the smaller events, that hasn't been a surprise.

I was somewhat surprised when there was no mention of it by ACen, other than the standard boilerplate that exhibitors are responsible for local/state/federal taxes, fees, laws, etc. I thought that ACen might be big enough to be worth DoR's attention and time.

Well, it seems I was right. Yesterday morning I found e-mail from ACen saying that the DoR had "reached out" to ACen, with a PDF of the form for reporting/paying sales taxes for an event attached. In the afternoon there was a follow-up e-mail, mentioning the exhibit hall staff has been getting a lot of questions.

I bet they have.

Yeah, I think I was right 20 years ago. Doing the paperwork and making the payments is less stressful than the "Surprise tax forms/payment!" situation some people are presumably facing now. 

(As a registered business we may use the special event form, or wait for our regular filing).

1 comment:

  1. We are at least moderately aware of this in California. The years I've run dealers' room for Conjecture, the packet has included the following text:

    "If you don’t have a Seller’s Permit and either you aren’t selling Exempt Property or your sales aren’t exempt Occasional Sales, then you must fill out a Temporary Seller’s Permit. After the convention, you may be required to file a Sales Tax Return with appropriate attached forms. The aforementioned forms can be found at and more information about the Seller's Permit can be found at If you have any questions about this, contact your local office of the California State Board of Equalization, listed in the front of your White Pages or on the BOE site:"

    I'll confess to not having enforced it as much as I should have, but Conjecture is a small show (33 tables last year, including fan tables and the "fan table" - a table covered with fans, hand, electric, squirrel cage, etc.)

    The person I have running dealers for Westercon - a dealer herself - will be more careful about making sure that everyone has the proper forms, and probably won't let people get away with "oh, I think I only sell exempt stuff." Of course in the past, most of the dealers in that camp were what I've called "garage sale" dealers, and I don't think we'll be letting into Westercon unless we really desperately need the income - which we shouldn't.