State of Wisconsin Flag

Wisconsin Sales Tax Guide for Businesses

Sales Tax Rate
5.0%
Local Taxes
Yes
Website
Department of Revenue
Tax Line
608-266-2776

We wrote this guide for online sellers who want to know if they even have to bother with sales tax in Wisconsin, and if so, how best to tackle the sales tax situation in the Badger State.

After reading this, you’ll know:

  • Do you or don’t you need to collect Wisconsin sales tax?
  • Which customers do you collect from?
  • How much do you collect?
  • What do you do with all the sales tax you’ve collected?
  • Way more than you probably ever wanted to know about Wisconsin sales tax!

Do you Have Sales Tax Nexus in Wisconsin?

Good news! You only have to begin thinking about Wisconsin sales tax if you have sales tax nexus in Wisconsin.

“Sales tax nexus” is just a fancy way of saying “significant presence” in a state.

Wisconsin considers a seller to have sales tax nexus in the state if you have any of the following in the state:

  • An office or place of business
  • An employee present in the state
  • Goods in a warehouse
  • Ownership of real or personal property

You can click here to fill out a Wisconsin nexus questionnaire and find out exactly what the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (Wisconsin’s taxing authority) has to say about what constitutes sales tax nexus in Wisconsin.

Do you Have Sales Tax Nexus in Wisconsin if you Sell on FBA?

If you sell on Amazon FBA, you may have sales tax nexus in Wisconsin. Storing physical products in a state can create sales tax nexus, and Wisconsin has one Amazon Fulfillment Center.

When the center opens, you will need to determine whether or not you have items stored there. You can do one of two things:

  1. Login to Amazon Seller Central and pull your inventory report
  2. Sign up for a 30-day free trial of TaxJar and find out from where your Amazon inventory ships with our Amazon badge feature

Wisconsin’s fulfillment center is located at:

Warehouse Code Address County Tax Rate
MKE1 38th St. Kenosha, WI, 53144 Kenosha 5.5%

Read here for more about Amazon FBA and sales tax nexus. Here’s a list of all Amazon Fulfillment Centers in the country.

Is What You’re Selling even Taxable?

You’ve probably read this far because you realized you have sales tax nexus in Wisconsin. Your next step is to determine if what you’re selling is even taxable.

Services in Wisconsin are generally not taxable . So if you’re a freelance writer or a plumber, you’re in luck and you don’t have to worry about sales tax. But watch out – if the service you provide includes creating or manufacturing a product, you may have to deal with the sales tax on products.

Tangible products are taxable in Wisconsin , with a few exceptions. These exceptions include burial caskets, certain groceries, prescription medicine and medical devices, printed publications, modular or manufactured homes, manufacturing equipment, and some agricultural items.

So if you sell toys, then charge sales tax to your Wisconsin customers.

But if you’re a graphic designer, don’t charge sales tax to your Wisconsin customers.

If you have sales tax nexus in Wisconsin and your products are taxable, your next step is to register for a sales tax permit.

How to Register for a Sales Tax Permit in Wisconsin

Sellers with sales tax nexus in Wisconsin must apply for an Wisconsin sales tax permit.

Don’t skip this step! Wisconsin considers it unlawful to collect sales tax in their name without a permit. Wisconsin asks that you register for a sales tax permit three weeks before your business opens. Go here for more on how to register for a sales tax permit in Wisconsin.

How to Collect Sales Tax in Wisconsin

So you’ve determined that you have sales tax nexus in Wisconsin and what you’re selling is taxable. And you’re all set and registered for your Wisconsin sales tax permit(s).

The next step is to determine how much sales tax to collect.

Wisconsin is an destination-based sales tax state. So if you live in Wisconsin, collecting sales tax is not very easy. You must collect sales tax at the tax rate where the item is being delivered. This is the same whether you live in Wisconsin or not. It is also the same if you will use Amazon FBA there.

You can look up the local sales tax rate with TaxJar’s Sales Tax Calculator or by going to TaxJar.com/mobile on your mobile device.

Example: You live and run your business in Wausau, WI, in the 54401 zip code. The sales tax rate in Wausau is made up of the Wisconsin sales tax rate of 5% and the .5% of Marathon County for a total of 5.5%. You sold an item to a customer in Milwaukee who has a tax rate of 5.6%, which is made up of the state rate, the county rate, and the district rate. You would charge the customer their sales tax rate (5.6%) on the item.

What are the Amazon sales tax settings for Wisconsin?

If you are an Amazon pro seller and use Amazon to collect sales tax, be sure you have your Wisconsin sales tax settings entered correctly. Find step-by-step instructions for setting up your Amazon sales tax settings here.

If you are a… State tax County tax City tax District tax Custom rate Is shipping taxable? Is gift wrapping taxable?
Seller living in Wisconsin X X X X N/A Yes Yes
Seller living outside of Wisconsin X X X X N/A Yes Yes

Should You Collect Sales Tax on Shipping Charges in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, if the item that you are shipping is taxable and you charge your buyer shipping, then those charges are taxable. If you have both taxable and non-taxable items shipping, you will need to determine portion of the shipping charge that is for the taxable items and charge tax on that portion.

Read a full explanation of sales tax on shipping in Wisconsin here.

1 Milwaukee 596,974 Milwaukee 5.60%
2 Madison 208,054 Dane 5.50%
3 Green Bay 102,313 Brown 5.50%
4 Kenosha 90,352 Kenosha 5.50%
5 Racine 81,855 Kenosha 5.50%
6 Appleton 70,087 Winnebago 5.00%
7 Waukesha 64,825 Waukesha 5.10%
8 Oshkosh 62,916 Winnebago 5.00%
9 Eau Claire 61,704 Eau Claire 5.50%
10 West Allis 61,254 Milwaukee 5.60%
11 Janesville 59,498 Rock 5.50%
12 La Crosse 51,818 La Crosse 5.50%
13 Sheboygan 50,792 Sheboygan 5.00%
14 Wauwatosa 47,271 Milwaukee 5.60%
15 Fond du Lac 42,203 Fond du Lac 5.50%
16 Brookfield 38,649 Waukesha 5.10%
17 Wausau 38,426 Marathon 5.50%
18 New Berlin 38,220 Waukesha 5.10%
19 Beloit 35,775 Rock 5.50%
20 Greenfield 35,476 Milwaukee 5.60%

Top 20 Wisconsin cities by population and their sales tax rates

When are Wisconsin Sales Tax Returns Due?

Wisconsin sales tax returns are always due at the end of the month following the reporting period. You’ll be assigned a sales tax filing frequency when you apply for your Wisconsin sales tax permit. You can look up your sales tax account number and filing frequency here.

Here’s a breakdown of Wisconsin sales tax due dates:

2016 Wisconsin Monthly Sales Tax Filing Due Dates

Taxable Period Due Date
January February 29, 2016
February March 31, 2016
March May 2, 2016*
April May 31, 2016
May June 30, 2016
June August 1, 2016*
July August 31, 2016
August September 30, 2016
September October 31, 2016
October November 30, 2016
November January 2, 2017*
December January 31, 2017

2016 Wisconsin Quarterly Sales Tax Filing Due Dates

Taxable Period Due Date
Q1 (Jan - Mar) May 2, 2016*
Q2 (Apr - Jun) August 1, 2016*
Q3 (Jul - Sep) October 31, 2016
Q4 (Oct - Dec) January 31, 2017

2016 Wisconsin Annual Sales Tax Filing Due Date

Taxable Period Due Date
Year 2016 January 31, 2017

*indicates a due date pushed back due to a weekend or holiday

Click here to learn more about Wisconsin sales tax filing due dates in 2016.

How to File Sales Tax in Wisconsin

When it comes time to file sales tax in Wisconsin you must do three things:

  1. Calculate how much sales tax you owe
  2. File a sales tax return
  3. Make a payment

We’ll walk you through these steps.

How to Calculate How Much Sales Tax You Owe in Wisconsin

Calculating how much sales tax you should remit to the state of Wisconsin is easy with TaxJar’s Wisconsin sales tax report.

All you do is connect the channels through which you sell – including Amazon, eBay, Shopify, Square and more – and we’ll calculate exactly how much sales tax you collected. All the information you need to file your Wisconsin sales tax return will be waiting for you in TaxJar. All you have to do is login!

How to File and Pay Sales Tax in Wisconsin

You have a few options for filing and paying your Wisconsin sales tax:

  • File online - File online at the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. You can remit your payment through their online system.
  • File by mail - Fill out Wisconsin form ST-12 and mail it in
  • AutoFile - Let TaxJar file your sales tax for you. We take care of the payments, too. You’ll never have to worry about spreadsheets, calculations or filling out complex sales tax returns.

Other Facts You Should Know about Wisconsin Sales Tax Filing

There are a few more things you should know about sales tax in Wisconsin:

Penalties:

Returns filed after the due date are subject to a $20 late filing fee, and a negligence penalty equal to 5% of the amount on line 30 (total sales and use taxes due) for each month or fraction of a month the return is late, up to a maximum penalty of 25%. However, if the return was filed late because of the death of the person required to file the return, the penalty will be waived.

Other penalties for fraud or serial offenses include higher fines and even criminal charges.

“Zero returns”:

Wisconsin requires that any seller with a sales tax permit file a sales tax return on your due date even if you don’t have any sales tax to report or pay. The penalty for filing a zero return late is the same as the penalty for late filing, above.

Discounts:

Many states understand that collecting sales tax is a difficult burden on merchants, and will provide a discount to help alleviate some of this burden. In Wisconsin, you can take a credit, which is called the “retailer’s discount.” The discount is not allowed on any tax paid after the due date (or extended, in the case of an extension, after the due date) of the sales and use tax return. The retailer’s discount is 0.5 percent of a retailer’s sales and use tax payable, with some exceptions. There is a limit of $1,000 per reporting period.

And that’s it. You’ve mastered Wisconsin sales tax filing! Now that sales tax is out of the way, you can get back to what you do best – running your business.

Wisconsin Sales Tax Resources

For more about Wisconsin sales tax, check out the Wisconsin section of the TaxJar blog.

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