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 Maine 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 to the supplier on the purchase. The sales tax will still be paid, but 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 Maine Revenue Services.
For example, when a pet store purchases dog toys from their supplier to sell in the store, the pet store owner won’t typically have to pay sales tax to their supplier. When a customer (or end-user) 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 purpose of the certificate is to provide evidence of why sales tax was not collected on a transaction. Similar names for a resale certificate include reseller number, seller’s permit, exemption certificate, wholesale license, or reseller’s license. In order for the supplier to allow the tax-exempt purchase, the seller needs proof the buyer intends to resell the product by providing a valid resale certificate.
The sales tax exemption is 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.
Before a business starts selling products or providing taxable services, they must first get a Sales Tax Account from Maine Revenue Services. The Sales Tax Account sometimes referred to as a seller’s certificate, sales tax number, or sales tax license. Upon registering for a sales tax account, if the business will receive a Retailer’s Certificate.
The Retailer’s Certificate and Resale Certificate are commonly thought of as the same thing but they are actually two separate documents. The Retailer’s Certificate 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.
After registering for the Sales Tax Account, a Resale Certificate will be automatically issued if the business indicated they anticipate making over $3,000 annually.
Example Maine Resale Certificate
Does a Maine Resale Certificate Expire?
Maine Resale Certificates are valid from the date of issue to December 31st plus three years. The certificate will be automatically renewed if the certificate holder has reported $3,000 or more in gross sales during the previous 12 months.
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.
What steps should a business take to accept a resale certificate?
When a business is presented with a resale certificate, the burden of proof is on the seller to verify that the buyer’s information is correct and to keep these records. Failing to verify this information may put the liability of paying Maine sales taxes on the seller.
Before accepting a resale certificate, a seller should:
- Review the resale certificate to make sure it is completely filled out.
- Verify the purchaser’s Maine certificate is valid and active by visiting the Maine Revenue Service’s website.
- 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 should investigate further.
- Resale Certificates must be kept on file for a minimum of 6 years.