I just recently registered and received my California Sales Tax license and I thought the process for California was so different from the other States I’ve registered in that it was worth a “warning” blog post to those of you who may also be registering with California in the near future.
As with most sales tax registration sites, the cost is free, but California’s process is relatively long and intrusive regarding the information and documentation they require from you.
Where the heck is the online form?
The first quest is finding the online registration website. When I searched for “California Sales Tax Registration Online” I was taken to a website that didn’t have a clear registration link, text, or menu structure. It’s a nomenclature issue.
What you’re looking for is the online registration website, and to do that you need to visit this URL: https://onlineservices.cdtfa.ca.gov/Directory/
On this page you’re looking for the “Register a New Business Activity or Location”. California calls a Sales and Use Tax license a “Seller’s Permit”.
What Documentation Is Needed?
If you’re an LLC or Corporation, you’re going to need an Federal EIN. I suspect the site hasn’t been updated since 2015 when sole-manager/disregarded LLC became a thing. So if you’re an disregarded LLC, you’ll need to get an FEIN from IRS.gov.
You’ll need all your contact information including phone numbers, address, email, mobile phone, etc.
Additionally, if you select an out-of-state business (If you’re not a California company) you’ll need to have your entity registration number information from the State in which you’re based. This is typically on your certificate of registration or found through your State’s entity registration and verification website.
Finally, you’ll need a high-quality scan of your State government ID such as a driver’s license. They accept Driver’s license, Passport, Visa, or other government photo identification. Crazy!
They do say they destroy the copy after verification. Here’s a reference link to this requirement: http://www.cdtfa.ca.gov/sutax/faqseller.htm#5
It took me about 1.5 hours from the time I Googled for the website, to the time I received my sales tax license request acknowledgement e-mail. The longest process I’ve been through for any State thus far!
The next day, I received an e-mail from the person evaluating my request and they required that you send them via fax or e-mail (recommended, who has a fax?) either an executed copy of an LLC Operating Agreement, Member Meeting Minutes, Federal Income Tax Schedule K, or Articles of Organization/Incorporation clearly listing the member(s) of the LLC.
I do recommend you have at a minimum the following:
- Your company information including but not limited to phone, email, address, mobile, etc.
- A high-quality scanned copy as PDF of your government issued ID such as your valid driver’s license.
- A scanned copy as PDF of your LLC Operating Agreement.
- 1-hour of your time.
Note, my experience was strictly for registering as a non-California LLC who has physical nexus in that State. Your experience may vary from mine. On a positive note, the process was completed in about 24 hours.
Also, If you’re an online retailer, you’ll need to know that California charges sales tax on both shipping, handling and any additional charges you may (or your marketplace) charges for special/gift wrapping.
Let me know if this post was any help to you in any way. If I’ve missed something, be sure to comment back.