You have to register your business in the states and other local jurisdictions where you conduct business so that you can collect and remit sales tax. To register with a state Department of Revenue, Department of Taxation, or other similar taxing authority, you need to file a tax registration application.
You may need to file other applications as well. Some states have jurisdictions with locally-administered taxing schemes that may be different from the state level, including Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, and Louisiana. If you have a physical location within a taxing authority, you may also need to apply for a separate business license with local governments or register with the Secretary of State. If you have employees, you should contact any county or incorporated city in which you sell or provide services to determine if you need additional licenses.
Once registered, you receive your tax certificate, an initial filing frequency, and a tax registration number from the taxing authority. You can register on your own or you can get help from Avalara Professional Services.
File your own registration applications
To register your business, go to the websites of each state and local jurisdiction where you do business and complete the required steps there. Be prepared to answer these questions:
- What's your business activity?
- What are your expected annual sales?
- Will you be selling goods to consumers?
- Will your business use a name that's different from the legal name?
- Have you ever been acquired by another business or have you acquired a business?
- Where's your business located? This includes the physical location of your business or warehouse and the locations where you sell your products or provide business services.
- What's your ownership type (i.e. sole proprietor, profit corporation, LLC, etc.)?
- Who are the officers/owners of the company?
For more information about registering your business in the states where it’s located, visit the states’ Department of Revenue websites. Contact your Customer Account Manager (CAM) to learn more about Avalara’s state- and local-level sales tax registration services.
In many jurisdictions, there are additional registration requirements or prerequisites, including registration with the Secretary of State, bonding requirements based on estimated taxable sales, etc. You're responsible for completing these additional registration requirements or prerequisites, even if you purchase Avalara’s registration services.
The list of state-level department of taxation/revenue sites will help you get started.
Get registration help from Avalara Professional Services
We offer three levels of service to help you register for sales and use tax reporting (or the equivalent transaction tax) in each of the taxing jurisdiction in which your company does business.
Standard Registration Services
When you engage us for Standard Registration Services, Avalara will:
- Provide a questionnaire to collect the information necessary for the registration process.
- Get the appropriate registration forms from each taxing jurisdiction.
- Complete the registration forms with the information you provide to the best of our ability.
- Ask you for additional information, when necessary, based on more specific information required on the registration forms.
- Prepare and send a signature-ready registration package to you with a cover letter detailing the remaining steps—including specific supporting documentation required—and the registration forms for your final review and signature.
Expedited Registration Services
When you engage us for Expedited Registration Services, we offer the same help as with Standard Registration Services, but on an expedited timeline.
As with Standard Registration Services, it’s your responsibility to finalize the registration forms and submit them, along with any supporting documentation and fees required, to the taxing authorities.
Full Registration Services
When you engage us for Full Registration Services, Avalara will:
- A questionnaire to collect the information necessary for the registration process.
- A list of the registration application and/or bond fees, if applicable to your services.
- Prepare and submit a registration package directly to each taxing authority after you send Avalara:
- The completed registration questionnaire
- An appropriate digital signature
- Application fees and/or bond amounts if applicable on company check stock
- Any other supporting documentation needed to submit with the applications
- Follow up with jurisdictions to ensure they've received and processed your registration.
- Send you electronic copies of the applications and certified mail receipts once completed.
The timing of registration for your project depends on:
- The registration service type you select
- The quality and timeliness of information you provide
- The number of registrations to be completed
When you engage us to help you register to collect sales tax, at Avalara’s request, you:
- Fill out an online questionnaire that covers questions on most jurisdiction applications
- Answer other questions needed based on a specific application
- Provide us with registration fees (required by some states)
- Provide us with corporate officers’ signatures (required by some states)
- Provide us with corporate officers’ social security numbers (required by all states)
- Provide us with corporate officers’ driver’s license numbers and home addresses (required by some states)
Avalara uses the contact name and email address you provide as the contact person on applications. We prepare returns as your agents; however, we can’t place our names on the applications because we’d need power of attorney, which would dramatically increase the cost of this service and delay the process. For states that require online registrations, we create a login name and password for the application and give you this information once the registration is prepared.
Avalara and the various taxing agencies recommend that you keep a copy of the signed application for your records.
Some states have other registrations or prerequisites for which you’re responsible, such as registering with the Secretary of State, bonding requirements based on estimated taxable sales, and so forth. Some states may require that your company have a registered agent within a state. (There are registered agency companies that can handle this requirement.) Other states may require corporate tax registrations when the sales tax application is submitted. Unless mandatory as part of the sales tax registration, Avalara doesn’t prepare these additional non-sales tax registrations.
Registering for sales and use tax collection and reporting can have an impact on federal, state and other tax reporting requirements. Consult your internal or outside tax advisors regarding the other tax implications of this engagement – such as additional registration requirements for state income and/or franchise tax, business license tax, etc.
Unless engaging us for Full Registration Services, it’s your responsibility to follow up with each agency once you submit the applications. The agencies will only talk to the contact person on the application. It may take a jurisdiction many weeks to assign a registration number. This is beyond Avalara’s control.
Other considerations and restrictions
Local tax registrations
Many states have locally-administered taxing schemes that may be different from the state level. The services we provide are limited to the state-level taxing authorities unless additional locally-administered jurisdictions are indicated as well in the Statement of Work (SOW).
Combined business tax registration
In some jurisdictions, the sales and use tax registration process is part of a combined business registration that may involve other taxes. In such cases, we complete the registration application portion for sales and use tax; however, it’s up to you to address and complete the remainder of the combined business registration application.
Start date/effective date of tax registration
The registration process requires you to indicate the start or effective date of tax reporting in each jurisdiction. We include this key piece of information on the registration forms based on the information you provide to us. You should consider this information carefully because any historical activity conducted by your company in the taxing jurisdiction prior to this date could result in additional liability.