How to get a Certificate of Resale in North Dakota

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Quick Reference

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 North Dakota Certificate of Resale to their vendor. 

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

What is a Certificate of Resale?

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 the North Dakota Office of State Tax Commissioner.

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.

Note that the Certificate of Resale is different from a business license. Learn more about starting a business in North Dakota.

Getting Started

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

Is a resale certificate the same as a sales tax ID?

The sales tax permit and certificate of resale 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.

Related: How to register for a North Dakota Sales Tax Permit

After registering, a Sales and Use Tax Permit Number will be provided by the Office of State Tax Commissioner. This number will be listed on the Certificate of Resale.

SFN 21950 Certificate of Resale Fillable Form

Fillable North Dakota Certificate of Resale  SFN 21950

How to fill out the North Dakota Certificate of Resale – Form SFN 21950

Filling out Form SFN 21950 is pretty straightforward but is critical for the seller to gather all the information.

If audited, the North Dakota Office of State Tax Commissioner requires the seller to correctly fill out Form SFN 21950 Certificate of Resale.  Without it correctly filled out, the seller could end up owing sales taxes that should have been collected from the buyer in addition to penalties and interest.  

Steps for filling out the SFN 21950 North Dakota Certificate of Resale

Step 1 – Begin by downloading the North Dakota Certificate of Resale Form SFN 21950 
Step 2 – Enter the purchaser’s State of origin and State and Use Tax Permit number
Step 3 – Identify what the purchaser’s business sells, leases or rents
Step 4 – Include the name of the seller
Step 5 – Enter the purchaser’s business name, address then sign the certificate.

The resale certificate is kept on file by the seller and is not filed with the state.

Does a North Dakota Resale Certificate Expire?

A North Dakota Certificate of Resale does not expire.

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 North Dakota 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 North Dakota Sales & Use Tax Permit is valid by running a Sales & Use Tax Permit Inquiry on the State Tax Commissioner’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 wants to purchase office supplies tax-free, the seller should investigate further.  
  • Keep a file of resale certificates. 

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