Most businesses starting in South Carolina that are selling a product or offering certain services will need to register for a Retail License. This is commonly referred to as a seller’s permit, sales tax permit, sales tax license, sales tax number or sales tax registration.
The Retail License is obtained through the South Carolina Department of Revenue as a part of the South Carolina Tax Registration Application. In addition to registering for the Retail License, this application also registers for the Artist & Craftsman’s License, Use Tax and Withholding Tax.
Check out the rest of this guide to find out who needs a Retail License, what products and services are taxable, how to register for a permit and reporting requirements.
Who needs a Retail License in South Carolina?
A business must register for a Retail License in South Carolina when:
- A business has “nexus” (significant presence in the state) such as a retail store, office or warehouse where products are produced, stored and/or delivered
- Selling products and taxable services in South Carolina (includes occasionally
selling items at craft shows, fairs, seminars, shows, etc.)
- People selling at flea markets do not need a retail license unless they are in the business of selling at these events more than once a calendar quarter.
- Employees (including sales representatives or agents) are working in South Carolina
- An online business located in South Carolina is selling taxable products to South Carolina residents
- An out-of-state business selling to South Carolina residents and one of
- Total annual sales of taxable products and services over $100,000 to South Carolina residents.
What products and services are taxable in South Carolina?
There are a few exceptions, but almost all physical products are taxable when sold at retail in South Carolina. Common examples include:
- General merchandise like furniture, appliances, and clothing
- Titled or registered items like vehicles
Prescriptions, medical devices and unprepared foods are tax-exempt. See the full list of sales tax exemptions in South Carolina.
Labor in most cases isn’t taxable in South Carolina. For instance, let’s say you broke the screen to your cell phone and take it to a cell phone repair shop to have it fixed. Sales tax would be added to the selling price of the new screen and any additional parts to fix the phone. The labor to replace the screen isn’t taxable. However, a business that makes furniture will indirectly have sales tax on labor. In this instance, let’s say this business is building a dining room table for a customer. Through labor, the pieces of wood are shaped, sanded and painted to build this piece of furniture. While the labor isn’t directly taxable, sales tax is charged to the final selling price of the table.
Digital products are tax exempt in South Carolina.
Even though the license is called a Retail License, the license itself applies to sales tax law. Most services aren’t taxable in South Carolina, however there are a few exceptions, some of which include:
- Short-term lodging
- Dry cleaning and laundry services
- Shoe repair services
- Jewelry repair services
See the full list of sales taxes on services.
How to register for a Retail License in South Carolina
Information needed to register includes:
- Legal Business Name
- Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), or SSN if a sole proprietorship with no employees
- Mailing Address
- Type of business entity (Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation, LLC)
- Phone number, email and physical business address
- Seasonality (if applicable)
- Trade Name (Doing Business As)
- Anticipated date of first retail sales
- Type of business (retail sales, manufacturing, service, etc.)
- Names and addresses of owners/officers/members
How much does a Retail License cost in South Carolina?
The cost of a Retail License is $50 for each location in South Carolina.
How long does it take to get a South Carolina Retail License?
Expect 2-3 business days to receive a Retail License when registering online or 1-2 weeks when applying by mail.
Do you have to renew your South Carolina Retail License?
The Retail License is a one-time registration, provided the business’s ownership and location don’t change.
Sales tax reporting
How is sales tax collected?
When a business makes a sale of a taxable product or service, the business charges the appropriate sales tax rate to the customer. This tax is collected by the business who then sends it to the South Carolina Department of Revenue.
How much sales tax is charged?
The sales tax rate that is charged varies depending on the address of the business if the purchase is made in the store. When shipping in-state, the sales tax is based on the address of the purchaser.
In addition to the statewide tax, there are additional sales taxes that may be added by cities and municipalities. To find sales tax rates, see the sales tax rates by zip code from the South Carolina Department of Revenue.
When are South Carolina sales tax returns due?
The Department of Revenue will determine a filing frequency based on the expected volume of sales, which will be monthly, quarterly or annually. Generally, a business collecting over $100 in sales taxes each month will file monthly.
Filings are due the 20th day of the month following the reporting period, unless the 20th falls on a weekend or federal holiday, in which case would move to the next business day.
Even if the business had no sales during the reporting period, a filing is still required indicating no sales occurred.
Sales tax on purchases for resale
A business is able to purchase items to resell without paying state sales tax. The tax liability is passed from the wholesaler or distributor to the retailer who will then charge sales tax to the end user of the item.
Wholesalers and distributors will require a sales tax number, and in many cases require the reseller to fill out a South Carolina Resale Certificate to document the items being purchased are for resale.
If you have questions about the Retail License, the South Carolina Department of Revenue has a Sales and Use Tax FAQ page or they can be contacted by calling 44-898-8542 or emailing email@example.com.
Regional service centers are also available to talk in person
1 Southpark Circle, Suite 100
Charleston, S.C. 29407
Columbia (main center)
300A Outlet Pointe Boulevard
Columbia, S.C. 29214
1452 West Evans Street
Florence, S.C. 29502
545 North Pleasantburg Drive, Suite 300
Greenville, SC 29607
1330 Howard Parkway
Myrtle Beach, S.C. 29588
454 South Anderson Road
Business and Technology Center, Suite 202
Rock Hill, S.C. 29731