How to get a Resale Certificate in Florida

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In order to purchase inventory without paying sales tax, a Florida Resale Certificate is needed.  Learn more about the certificate and how to get one!

When a business purchases inventory to resell, they can do so without paying sales tax.  In order to do so, the retailer will need to provide a Florida Resale Certificate to their vendor. 

Learn more about what a resale certificate is, how to get one and more.

What is a Resale Certificate?

When retailers purchase products to resell, they often don’t pay sales tax on the purchase.  Instead of the retailer paying sales tax, the retailer charges sales tax to their customer on the final value of the merchandise.  The collected sales tax is then sent by the retailer to the Department of Revenue. 

For example, when a pet store purchases dog toys to sell in their store, by having a resale certificate, the pet store owner won’t pay sales tax on the transaction.  When a customer purchases the dog toy, the retailer will charge sales tax to the customer based on the full price of the toy.  The retailer will collect the sales tax from all their transactions and periodically (typically at the end of the month) send the sales tax to the state.

The resale certificate is the seller’s evidence why sales tax was not collected on a transaction.  Similar names for a resale certificate include reseller number, seller’s permit, exemption certificate or reseller’s license.  In order to prove a buyer intends to resell the product, they must provide a valid resale certificate to the seller of the goods.

Resale certificates are only intended to be used for inventory that will be resold and not intended for the tax-free purchase of items used in normal business operations such as paper, pens, etc.

Getting Started

Before a business starts selling products or providing taxable services, they must first get a Florida Sales Tax Permit from the Florida Department of Revenue. The Sales Tax Permit is sometimes referred to as a seller’s permit, sales tax number, or sales tax license.

The Sales Tax Permit and Resale Certificate are commonly thought of as the same thing but they are actually two separate documents. The Sales Tax Permit allows a business to sell and collect sales tax from taxable products and services in the state, while the Resale Certificate allows the retailer to make tax-exempt purchases for products they intend to resell.

Read more about how to register for a Florida Sales Tax Permit

After registering for the Sales Tax Permit, the Department of Revenue provides a Florida Annual Resale Certificate to provide to the vendor.

Does a Florida Resale Certificate Expire?

Florida Resale Certificates expire each year on December 31.  Active businesses will have their certificate automatically reissued by the Department of Revenue.

Are sellers required to accept resale certificates?

Sellers are not required to accept resale certificates, however most do.  If the vendor doesn’t accept the certificate, the buyer will have to pay sales tax on the merchandise being purchased.  In most cases, they will be able to get a credit for the sales taxes paid later on their sales tax filing. 

It the seller is out-of-state, Florida is one of a few states that don’t recognize out-of-state resale certificates.  In order to purchase tax-free from vendors in other states, the buyer will have to register for a sales tax permit in the seller’s state.  

What steps should a business take to accept a resale certificate?

When a business is presented with a resale certificate, it is the seller’s responsibility to verify the buyer’s information is correct and maintain records to demonstrate the seller’s due diligence.  Failing to verify this information may put the liability of paying Florida sales taxes on the seller.

Before accepting a resale certificate, a seller should:

Obtain a copy of the buyer’s Annual Resale Certificate. There are three methods to obtain a certificate.

Method 1: Have the buyer send a paper or electronic copy.   The seller should retain a copy of this certificate for three years. The resale certificate should be kept on file by both the buyer and seller and is not filed with the state.

Method 2: For each sale, obtain a transaction authorization number using the buyer’s certificate number.  A copy of the certificate isn’t needed when the authorization number is recorded with the invoice.  To get the authorization number either dial 877-357-3725, visit the Florida Department of Revenue’s verification page or use the FL Tax mobile app.

Method 3 – each calendar year, the seller can obtain annual vendor authorization numbers for regular customers who qualify to purchase tax-free.  Visit the Certificate Verification page and upload a batch file for customer certificate verification.

Sellers are also responsible for examining the certificate and evaluating whether the goods sold are reasonably consistent with the purchaser’s line of business.  For example, if the buyer’s business is a car dealership but they are wanting to purchase office supplies tax-free, the seller may want to investigate further.