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.

Rank City Population County Total SalesTax
1 Milwaukee 600,155 Milwaukee 5.60%
2 Madison 248,951 Dane 5.50%
3 Green Bay 105,207 Brown 5.00%
4 Kenosha 99,858 Kenosha 5.50%
5 Racine 77,742 Racine 5.10%
6 Appleton 74,139 Outagamie 5.00%
7 Waukesha 71,970 Waukesha 5.10%
8 Eau Claire 67,778 Eau Claire 5.50%
9 Oshkosh 66,555 Winnebago 5.00%
10 Janesville 64,123 Rock 5.50%
11 West Allis 60,620 Milwaukee 5.60%
12 La Crosse 52,306 La Crosse 5.50%
13 Sheboygan 48,797 Sheboygan 5.50%
14 Wauwatosa 47,614 Milwaukee 5.60%
15 Fond du Lac 42,933 Fond du Lac 5.50%
16 New Berlin 39,825 Waukesha 5.10%
17 Wausau 39,094 Marathon 5.50%
18 Brookfield 38,025 Waukesha 5.10%
19 Greenfield 37,349 Milwaukee 5.60%
20 Beloit 36,891 Rock 5.50%

Top 20 Most Populous Cities in Wisconsin and their Sales Tax Rates (June 2017)

When are Wisconsin Sales Tax Returns Due?

When you file and pay Wisconsin sales tax depends on two things: your assigned filing frequency and your state’s due dates.

How often will you file sales tax returns in Wisconsin?

States assign you a filing frequency when you register for your sales tax permit. In most states, how often you file sales tax is based on the amount of sales tax you collect from buyers in the state.

In Wisconsin, you will be required to file and remit sales tax either monthly, quarterly, or annually.

How often you are required to file sales tax in Wisconsin follows this general rule:

Average Monthly Taxable Sales Filing Frequency
$21,500.00 and up Monthly with Prepayment
$7,200.21 to $21,500.00 Monthly
$900.01 to $7,200.00 Quarterly
$0.00 to $900.00 Annually

Wisconsin sales tax returns are almost always due the last day of the month following the reporting period. If the filing due date falls on a weekend or holiday, sales tax is generally due the next business day.

Important Note: Some high-volume Wisconsin sales tax filers will be assigned “prepayments” which are due the 20th of the month following the taxable period (as opposed to the last day of the month following the taxable period.) You can read more about Wisconsin prepayments here.

2017 Wisconsin Monthly Sales Tax Filing Due Dates

Taxable Period Due Date
January February 28, 2017
February March 31, 2017
*March May 1, 2017*
April May 31, 2017
May June 30, 2017
June July 31, 2017
July August 31, 2017
*August October 2, 2017*
September October 31, 2017
October November 30, 2017
*November January 2, 2018*
December January 31, 2018

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

2017 Wisconsin Quarterly Sales Tax Filing Due Dates

Taxable Period Due Date
*Q1 (Jan-March) May 1, 2017*
Q2 (April-June) July 31, 2017
Q3 (July-Sept) October 31, 2017
Q4 (Oct-Dec) January 31, 2018

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

2017 Wisconsin Annual Sales Tax Filing Due Dates

Taxable Period Due Date
2017 January 31, 2018

Click here for more info on Wisconsin sales tax filing due dates in 2017.

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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