Do I Charge Sales Tax to International Customers 

When it comes to running a business, there is a lot of paperwork you have to worry about. One of the main questions businesses find themselves asking is: Should I charge my international customers sales tax? After all, do you really need to add complexity by charging different taxes in different countries? Well, luckily for both you and your international customers, the answer doesn’t have to be as complicated as it may seem. In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into the world of global taxation so that the next time someone from abroad purchases from your store — you know exactly what tax rules apply.

Considerations for Charging Sales Tax

Charging sales tax for international customers can be a complicated process. Whether or not you must collect taxes on an international online order depends on several factors, including the type of goods you are selling and where you and the buyer are located. 

Types of Goods 

Some countries may exempt specific categories of products or services from the requirement of charging sales tax while others may have more intricate rules concerning the taxation of certain products or services. 

The amount of taxes applicable sometimes depends on how the product is classified and its intended use. Typically, the rate of taxation varies depending on whether the product is deemed a luxury item or if it falls into a particular category, including tobacco and alcohol. 

To ensure that you are compliant with local regulations when dealing with customers based abroad, you may want to consult with local authorities in each country to determine your tax obligations. 

Your State’s Tax Laws

Generally speaking, whether you are required to collect sales tax on international orders depends heavily on the laws and regulations of the state in which your business operates. This is because most states have their own unique rules regarding when they require businesses to collect sales taxes from customers located outside of their home state. That said, if your business is located in a state with a “destination-based” tax policy, then you may be required to collect sales tax from international customers based on their location. 

Country Where the Goods Will Be Shipped

Depending on the rules of the destination country and any trade agreements between countries, you may need to collect and submit Value-Added Taxes (VAT) on goods shipped internationally. This includes both tangible products as well as services like digital downloads. 

VAT is based on the difference between the total value of a product or service, including taxes, and all the costs associated with producing or providing it. VAT is collected by businesses from their customers and remitted to government authorities in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.

Tax Rates for International Orders

International tax rates are complex and ever-changing due to frequent updates from both federal and local governments worldwide. 

Tax rates for international orders vary greatly depending on the country to which the order is being shipped. Generally, taxes are determined by the type and value of goods being purchased, as well as any applicable duties or tariffs established by the destination country. Taxes may also be based on factors such as your location, origin of goods, and/or other government-imposed regulations. 

As an example, in the European Union (EU), standard VAT applies to most shipments from within the EU. This rate is currently set at a minimum of 15%, with some countries having their own specific VAT rate. Any orders that are sent outside of the EU may also be subject to customs clearance charges or other import taxes determined by the destination country. 

System for Collecting International Sales Tax

Implementing a system for collecting taxes on international orders is essential for compliance with government laws and regulations. This system should account for the complexities associated with jurisdiction-specific taxation rules, varying tax rates, and changes in legislation.

To ensure taxes are collected accurately, you’ll want to identify the location of the customer’s billing address and calculate the applicable taxes based on that location. This process can be difficult to manage manually, so an automated tax calculation solution can help simplify it and reduce compliance risks. You should also consider leveraging localization services to display prices to customers in their preferred currency and language.

A reliable international tax collection system should be capable of automatically calculating taxes based on customer information such as shipping address, product type, quantity purchased, etc. 

In some cases, you may need to adjust the pricing model to remain compliant with different jurisdictions’ taxation rules. You must also have procedures in place for handling returns and refunds on international orders – including any applicable tax credits or refunds – and ensure these processes comply with local laws. 

Remitting International Taxes

When it comes to submitting and remitting taxes collected from international customers, different rules may apply depending on your base jurisdiction and the laws of the country in which your customer resides. Most likely though, you will have to remit taxes directly to that foreign government rather than sending them to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) here in the United States. There may also be additional paperwork required when it comes to collecting taxes from international customers – again this will depend on U.S., state, and local laws and varying requirements from the countries where your customers reside.  

Records of International Sales Tax Collected

If you conduct international sales, you need to accurately record and track the taxes collected from your customers. This is an important part of accounting for international sales and ensuring compliance with applicable tax laws. The records for international sales taxes should be kept on file for at least seven years or as required by the laws and regulations of the country you are doing business in.

Maintain detailed information about the customer, such as the full name, address, country of residence, and other contact details. You should also record the rate of tax applied to each sale, any discounts or exemptions taken, and the total amount of tax collected. All of this information should be verified whenever possible before posting it to accounting reports.

Help Staying Compliant 

As a business owner who sells products or services internationally, it’s important to understand the tax laws and regulations that apply to your business and the countries you are selling to. Collecting international sales tax can be a complex process, but there are tools and resources available that can help you stay compliant and ensure that you are charging the correct amount of tax to your international customers.

Taking the time to understand and comply with international tax laws and regulations can help you avoid potential issues and ensure the long-term success of your business. 

With the right approach and the right resources from doola, collecting international sales tax can be a manageable task that can help you expand your business and reach new customers around the world.

FAQs

How can U.S. sellers become sales tax compliant?

U.S. sellers can become sales tax compliant by registering with their state’s Department of Revenue and collecting, filing, and remitting the appropriate level of sales tax for all taxable sales. 

Is U.S. sales tax the same as VAT?

U.S. sales tax and Value-Added Tax (VAT) are different types of taxes. Sales tax is generally applied to goods that are purchased within the United States, while VAT is a type of consumption tax that is imposed on goods and services that are purchased in European Union countries. The rate at which these taxes are applied can vary from country to country, with some taxing far more than others. In the U.S., sales taxes can range from 0% up to 10%, depending on the state you’re purchasing in, while VAT in the EU typically ranges from 15-25%. 

Do you pay tax on international orders?

The answer to this question depends on what type of order it is and where it’s being shipped to or from. For most international orders, customers are responsible for paying any applicable duties or customs fees upon receipt of their shipment. If the customer resides outside of their own home country, they may also be required to pay additional taxes such as VAT or Goods and Services Tax (GST) depending on what jurisdiction they’re located in. Generally speaking, if an item is being shipped internationally and crosses borders, then there is a good chance that customers will need to pay duties or customs fees upon delivery. It’s important to keep this in mind when making any international purchases as these additional costs can add up quickly and significantly increase the final price of your order.

doola's website is for general information purposes only and doesn't provide official law or tax advice. For tax or legal advice we are happy to connect you to a professional in our network! Please see our terms and privacy policy. Thank you and please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions.

Start your dream business and keep it 100% compliant

Turn your dream idea into your dream business.