Origin-Based Sales Tax

Home > Glossary > Origin-Based Sales Tax

Sales tax can be a labyrinth of rules and regulations, but understanding the fundamentals is key to navigating this complex terrain. While nexus and taxability determinations tend to be the focus when sales tax is at issue, sales sourcing is an often-overlooked issue. This guide provides an overview of origin-based sourcing – an approach that is taken by a minority of states and is often misunderstood by taxpayers and practitioners.

What is Origin-based Sales Tax?

Origin-based sales tax refers to a taxation model in which the sales tax rate is determined based on the location of the seller rather than the product’s destination. In simpler terms, the rate of sales tax applied is determined by the origin or the point of sale. This stands in contrast to the more popular destination-based sales tax, where the tax rate is determined by the buyer’s location.

Origin-based sales tax applies to both online and in-person transactions, affecting various industries and businesses, regardless of size.

Origin-Based States:

  • Arizona
  • California* (with unique provisions)
  • Illinois
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia

*California operates as a “modified origin” state, wherein state, county, and city taxes are determined based on the origin. However, district taxes in California are calculated based on the destination. In contrast, destination-based sales tax focuses on the buyer’s location, resulting in a more standardized tax rate for customers, irrespective of where the seller is situated.

Destination-Based States:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

*Note: Some services and transactions in New Mexico may follow an origin-based approach.

Mechanics of Origin-Based Sales Tax

In origin-based sales tax, the key determinant is the seller’s location. This means that regardless of where the buyer resides, the tax rate is determined by the jurisdiction where the seller operates. For instance, if a business operates in a state with a 7% origin-based sales tax and sells goods to a customer in a state with no sales tax, the seller would collect the 7% tax from the buyer. Unsurprisingly, origin-based sourcing can be a detriment to retailers located in those states; however, there are some advantages.

Advantages of Origin-Based Sales Tax

  • Clarity and Simplicity: Origin-based sales tax offers a clear and simple system for businesses to navigate. Instead of dealing with complex calculations based on varying buyer locations, they only need to consider their own location when determining tax rates. This simplicity streamlines operations and reduces administrative burdens.
  • Consistent Tax Rates: Origin-based taxation ensures consistent tax rates for businesses regardless of where their customers are located. This consistency simplifies compliance and administration processes, as businesses don’t have to constantly adjust their tax calculations based on different jurisdictions.
  • Promotion of Local Economy: By collecting taxes based on the seller’s location, origin-based sales tax can stimulate economic growth in the seller’s jurisdiction. The revenue generated directly benefits the community where the business operates, supporting local businesses, infrastructure development, and public services.

Sales tax has become a material burden for companies faced with uncertain nexus and taxability considerations in the wake of the Wayfair decision. Sales sourcing introduces an added layer of complexity for businesses operating in states that adopt this sourcing methodology. The intricacies of complying with diverse state regulations and the responsibility of accurate tax collection pose challenges for small local retailers and large e-commerce enterprises.

Businesses can greatly benefit from the specialized expertise and guidance offered by firms like Bennett Thrasher in navigating these complexities. With our in-depth knowledge of tax regulations and extensive experience assisting businesses of all sizes, we can provide tailored solutions to ensure compliance with diverse state laws while minimizing the administrative burden on their clients. Our team of tax professionals can offer strategic advice on tax planning, implement efficient tax collection processes, and provide ongoing support to mitigate the risks associated with non-compliance.

By partnering with Bennett Thrasher, your business can access a wealth of resources and insights to navigate the intricacies of origin-based sales tax effectively. Through proactive guidance and personalized strategies, we empower businesses to streamline their tax operations, reduce compliance risks, and focus on driving growth and innovation.

Work with a trusted advisor to navigate the evolving landscape of sales taxation.

Get Expert Advice

Related Terms

Tax Controversies  |  Sales Tax Situs  |  Destination-Based Sales Tax