I regularly receive questions from clients and colleagues about the taxability of products and services for New York sales and use tax purposes. As a SALT practitioner, I’ve built up quite a knowledge-base over the years of how things are taxed, whether there are any potential exemptions or whether a specific product or service has ever been addressed in an advisory opinion or decision. After a while though, it all kind of gets jumbled up in my head, which is why I’m lucky to work in a state that has such an extensive website teeming with sales and use tax forms, publications, technical bulletins, notices, advisory opinions, etc.
The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance often gets a bad rap, but no one can question the amount of information they make available to businesses and tax professionals on their website at: http://www.tax.ny.gov/. If you need to research the taxability of a particular product or service in New York, you will very likely find some type of guidance that addresses your issue. As someone who does a fair amount of multi-state tax research, the same can’t be said for most other state tax websites.
The sales and use tax homepage [http://www.tax.ny.gov/bus/st/stidx.htm] is the starting point to access the State’s Sales Tax Web File system, to lookup forms and applicable sales tax rates and access a wide-range of information. One of my favorite information sources is the Sales Tax Bulletins. A Tax Bulletin is an informational document designed to provide general guidance in simplified language on a topic of interest to taxpayers. There are close to one-hundred sales tax bulletins available on specific industries, products and services. They are extremely helpful because they provide guidance in plain English, which is great when explaining a complicated issue to a client or someone who is not very knowledgeable about sales tax lingo. They also provide references to the specific sections of the tax law, regulations and technical memoranda that address the issue. The Department has also done a great job issuing and updating bulletins on relevant topics like computer software, drop shipments, promotional materials and internet data centers – all of which were issued in 2014.
Another great feature of the website is the section on audits/bills/collections [http://www.tax.ny.gov/enforcement/] which provides information (including videos) on audits, the taxpayer’s rights and responsibilities during an audit, and payment and collection issues, including instructions for paying a tax bill or assessment online or challenging a tax department action. Under most circumstances, I recommend consulting a tax professional before responding to any assessment or notice given the specific format required for appeals and the potential time limitations.
Definitely check out New York State’s website the next time you have sales and use tax questions or issues, and I think you will be impressed with the variety of topics covered and the depth of information that’s available just a few clicks away.
Feel free to contact me with questions or comments (or suggestions regarding future blog topics) at Tom Mazurek, or on Twitter @TronconiSegarra. Thank you.
Other recent “New York (NY)” posts by Tom Mazurek, CPA:
- New York Sales Tax: Drop Shipments & Resale Certificates
- New York: Taxing Computer Software
- Sales Tax Free Zone in Buffalo
- Sales Tax Provisions Included in 2015-16 New York Budget
- New York: Capital Improvements v. Repairs to Real Property