Tuesday, August 12, 2008

SALES TAX – Wisconsin Sales Taxes are Imposed on Retail Sales of Tangible Personal Property and Certain Services.

The State of Wisconsin, through Wisconsin Statute 77.52 imposes a sales tax on retail sales. The sales tax is imposed at a rate of 5% under the Statute. Certain local municipalities also impose additional sales taxes to create a variation among counties.

The tax applies to the sale of all tangible personal property (that is, anything that is not real property) unless there is a specific exemption that excludes the item of tangible personal property from the sales tax. Exemptions include items such as caskets and burial vaults, food products (unless specifically excluded from the exemption), newspapers, items falling under an occasional sales exemption and more. As a general rule if a business sells tangible personal property, sales tax should be charged unless the Wisconsin Statutes specifically provide otherwise.

Conversely, only certain services are subject to the Wisconsin. These services are specifically identified in the Wisconsin Statutes (in Chapter 77). Examples include cable TV services, landscaping, dry-cleaning or photography services. Therefore, a service business must only collect sales taxes on the services that it provides if that service is specifically identified as taxable in the Wisconsin Statutes.

Whether a business sells tangible personal property or provides a service, the business owners should always check the sales tax statutes to confirm whether the item or service is subject to the sales tax. Failing to do so can result in severe financial consequences (tax, penalty and interest) to the business and its owners, officers and employees if sales tax is due and not paid.

The complete chapter of the Wisconsin Statutes governing the sales tax can be found by clicking here.

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