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Sales Tax Database

They sure are expensive...

     
6:15 pm on May 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

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We've been doing some looking around for a zip code to sales tax nationwide database for a web application.

Most vendors want around $1,000 for such a DB. Does anyone know of a free or cheaper source?

--Mark

6:20 pm on May 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Gosh that surprises me -I thought something like that would be available almost for free - or a really small charge.
10:46 pm on May 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Well, the data is freely available if you want to download files from all 50 states and then try to figure out what zip code goes with which sales tax jurisdiction.

But I'm like you, I figured this would be easy-peasy to find... but I was surprised that there isn't some open-source database or something available.

--Mark

1:26 pm on May 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Why would you need this? If you collect sales tax for each state on your web site sales, aren't you going to need to file quarterly tax statements and payments in every state?

In that case, the $1k database cost seems insignificant compared with the labor involved in tax form preparation.

2:01 pm on May 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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It's for a client. They want to charge sales tax based on customer destination. I don't know if this is part of the streamlined sales tax project or not, or if they have physical location in other states or?

We're just building the system to their specs.

--Mark

8:53 pm on May 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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As far as I know, you only need to charge sales tax on sales in the state where your company is based
(may be different if you have multiple shipping warehouses).
If they really want to do this, don't most states have a flat tax rate anyway - rather than trying to map zips to state, why not just get the customer to enter their 2 char state code and use that to lookup the tax rate for that state?
10:04 pm on May 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I think I would have to agree with 'FalseDown'. To my understanding the Fed's have as of yet to say anything about charging an interstate e-commerce tax. Last I heard it was shelved for another couple of years. Now, when we ship in-state we do charge sales tax.
1:16 am on May 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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There have been some interesting moves of late in interstate taxation. If you are concerned, you should contact a tax lawyer. Here's my recollections of our most recent (expensive) talk with our tax lawyer...

Sales tax is for sales occurring within a given jurisdiction. Unfortunately, states / counties / school boards / boy scout troops can't enforce taxes outside their regions. So, if you don't have facilities (a tax nexus) within a jurisdiction, you can essentially thumb your nose at the local taxes.

The Feds have been talking about a federal tax for a long time, so that they can tax all interstate transactions, but there's been push back from some lobby groups, and some constitutional interpretations (Supreme Court 1992) that are slowing that down.

Where it gets really intersting is in a little thing called a "use tax". For every sales tax there is an equivalent use tax. Everything that you buy that doesn't get taxed by your state's sales tax is taxed instead by the use tax. The buyer is legally required to report and pay this tax, which they never do for all the obvious reasons.

Some states are forming agreements to collect each others' sales taxes, so merchants may have to collect for neighboring states, depending on the terms of the interstate agreement.

6:17 pm on June 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

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StrikeIron has a Sales Tax web service that you can bang.

You can purchase an annual subscription; they offer various levels. As an example for $49.99 you can make 500 calls a month... you pass the zip code and get back a sales tax rate.

I can sticky you the link or just go to StrikeIron ... >> Marketplace >> Government

 

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