If you make sales in Kentucky, you may be required to collect sales tax from your customers and remit those payments to the state. Whether or not this applies to you depends on where your business is based and what you’re selling, among other things, and each state has slightly different regulations concerning sales tax. This makes it particularly difficult to stay compliant if you sell in multiple states.
The state sales tax rate in Kentucky is 6%, and there are no additional taxes imposed at the local level. That means that no matter where your business is located in the state, and regardless of the final destination of a shipped order, you will charge your customers the same rate. That’s a departure from many states, which often allow cities, counties, and other local jurisdictions to impose their own taxes that are then added onto the base state rate to arrive at the effective rate to be charged.
This can lead to a huge range of rates throughout an individual state, and sometimes even the need for multiple registrations. Fortunately, Kentucky eliminates all of those headaches by keeping the sales tax rate, as well as the registration and filing processes, standard and centralized.
You only have to collect sales tax from your Kentucky customers if you have a significant business presence, or nexus, there. According to the Kentucky Department of Revenue, that condition is triggered by:
If you use fulfillment by Amazon, it’s important to note that Amazon does have multiple fulfillment centers in Kentucky. Even if you sell remotely and have no other connection to the state, the presence of your product in one of those warehouses will trigger a nexus condition for you, requiring you to register for and collect sales tax on all of your sales to customers in Kentucky.
In Kentucky, most sales of tangible personal property are subject to sales tax. Some services are as well, although the majority are not. Examples of taxable services include sewer services, communication services, and services involved in the transmission and distribution of natural gas.
In addition to tangible personal property, Kentucky specifies that digital property is also taxable. Some exemptions exist, however, and these include groceries, prescription drugs, and prescribed prosthetic devices. Shipping charges specifically are also not taxable when they are listed separately on the receipt or invoice and delivery is made by a common carrier. However, handling charges are always taxable, and so if shipping and handling are lumped together, the total is taxable as well.
If the seller makes the delivery, or if some installation service is required when delivery is made in order to complete the terms of the sale, then the shipping is also taxable, along with the handling and delivery charges. If a shipment contains both taxable and non-taxable items, handling and delivery charges for the total shipment are taxable.
Before you can collect sales tax in Kentucky, you need to register with the state and receive a sales tax permit. This can be done by filling out a paper application and mailing it to:
Kentucky Department of Revenue
Division of Registration
P.O. Box 299, Station 20
Frankfort, KY 40602-0299
Because Kentucky is a member of the SSUTA, you can also register to collect sales tax in the state through their website. However, registering with the SSUTA will require you to register in all member states at once. If you make sales in multiple states or you anticipate expanding your business sometime soon, this may work out well for you. However, if you’re only interested in doing business in Kentucky at this time, it’s probably better to simply register with the state.
There is no fee to register, and it typically takes two to three weeks to process an application. When you’re approved and your permit is issued, you’ll also be assigned a filing frequency by the state based on your projected total monthly tax liability. This filing frequency is reevaluated annually at the end of the fiscal year on June 30, and it may be adjusted up or down based on your previous year’s sales. The options for filing are:
Companies with over $10,000 in average monthly tax liability will have to file monthly as well as pre-pay an estimated portion of the tax that will be due. You can file online or through the mail, and payments are due at the same time as returns. As compensation for reporting and paying your sales tax, you may keep 1.75% of the first $1,000 in taxes owed, and 1.5% of any amount above that.
Kentucky sales tax returns and payments are due on the 20th day of the month following the close of the period for which the tax is owed. If this falls on a weekend or a holiday, returns will be considered timely if completed online or postmarked by the next business day.
|January – March (Q1)||April 20|
|April – June (Q2)||July 20|
|July – September (Q3)||October 20|
|October – December (Q4)||January 20|
If you’re filing annually, your returns will be due on January 20th of the following year.
A late sales tax payment will incur a penalty of 2% of the total tax due for every 30-day period or fraction of a period that it remains delinquent. There is a minimum penalty of $10 and a maximum of 20% of the total tax due. Late filing will also incur a minimum fine of $100 on its own, and that includes a failure to file a zero return when you have an active Kentucky sales tax permit but made no taxable sales during the period in question.
Even with the simplification of having only one sales tax rate to deal with in Kentucky, tracking your taxable sales to customers within the state as well as elsewhere can be a challenge. With slightly different regulations in every state and the possibility that any of the myriad regulations in effect could change at any time, staying compliant can be a full-time job. You don’t want keeping track of sales tax collection and payments to be an impediment to growing your business, however, and so it’s great to be able to take advantage of a software program like TaxTools.
By centralizing all of your sales tax records and filing, TaxTools enables you to significantly streamline your tracking and reporting processes. It organizes data by location as well as selling period, and it keeps track of due dates so that you don’t have to worry about your returns being late. It also periodically checks for changes to rates or other particulars of each state’s tax code that may impact your business, and TaxTools integrates smoothly with all ecommerce platforms.
So, if you’re ready to see how TaxTools can change the way you do business for the better, sign up for a free trial today.