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Deb Neuman Deb Neuman
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Sales tax can be taxing

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Sales tax may not be the sexiest of business topics, but it's often the topic that causes the most confusion for business owners especially new ones. Take myself for example. I recently launched a new business making jewelry and accessories and selling them online. I assumed that because I was selling online only and didn't have a retail store in Maine that I would not have to collect sales tax. But I wasn't sure, so I called Maine Revenue Services in Augusta and they set me straight. Let me first say that they were very nice and helpful, and I would strongly recommend that if you have any questions call them!

It turns out that, because I live in Maine and do business in Maine, I do in fact have to collect sales tax on items shipped to Maine residents. If a Maine resident orders and wishes to have the product shipped to another state, I do not need to collect Maine sales tax. I thought to myself, 'I should know this stuff!' Then it occurred to me that if I was easily confused, there are likely many of you who are as well. So I set out to learn more.

Sales tax rules are complex and vary greatly depending on the nature of your business. For example, the rules for funeral homes are different from the rules for photographers. If you own a lodging establishment with a restaurant and gift shop, your sales tax obligation will vary depending on the business conducted. It can be very confusing.

The good news is, there is help out there. I recently met the director of Maine Revenue Services. They understand that the laws and statutes regarding sales tax can be daunting for businesses, so they are doing their best to make it a lot easier for you. In fact, if you go to their website you can find instructional bulletins for a large variety of businesses and review them for your type of business to understand your obligation when it comes to collecting sales tax. They've done a great job of putting this information in simple language, making it easy for businesses to understand.

In addition, they will be launching a series of sales tax workshops for businesses during the month of October. On Oct. 24, they will be in Bangor at the Spectacular Events Center. All the information can be found by going to www.maine.gov/revenue. You can also call them at (207) 624-9693 or email any questions to  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

So if you find yourself wondering 'to collect or not to collect,' there is help available!

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