Wisconsin Sales Tax
Wisconsin Sales Tax At a Glance
State rate: 5%
Maximum combined rate: 5.5%
Tax Holidays: None
Governing Body: Wisconsin Department of Revenue
Wisconsin sales tax is variable in a number of ways, with both a state rate and local municipal tax rates, as well as a number of exemptions that might apply depending on the service or product being sold by the merchant in the state.
In this guide we will discuss the process for determining if you have sales tax nexus in Wisconsin, the rates that will apply to you if you do business in the state, and specific items to which sales and use tax apply in the state. We will also discuss the process of applying for a permit and paying collected sales tax in the state.
Wisconsin Sales Tax Rates
The following sales and use tax rates apply in Wisconsin at the state and local level:
- The state sales tax rate in Wisconsin is 5.0%.
- There is an additional county sales tax of 0.5% in certain counties, for a total combined sales tax of 5.5%
- The city of Milwaukee will begin to impose a 2.0% city tax in January 2024
The applicable sales tax rates will depend on where you are located and what type of transaction is being completed.
Determining Sales Tax Nexus in Wisconsin
Before proceeding, if you are located outside the State of Wisconsin, you must determine if you have sales tax nexus in the State. Nexus is how the state determines if you have physical presence sufficient to require you to collect and pay sales and use tax. For those who operate solely within the state, this is easy – you have sales tax nexus because this is where you operate.
For merchants located outside of Wisconsin, you will need to consider the following, any of which may mean you have nexus in the state:
- Any goods or inventory located in a warehouse within the state
- A physical location or office in Wisconsin
- An employee who is physically present in the state
- Any property you own either as a business or individual in the state
Wisconsin provides a detailed description of what constitutes nexus in the state on their website here.
For those that sell their goods through Amazon FBA, there is a single fulfillment center in Wisconsin, located in Kenosha. If your goods are housed in this warehouse, you may have nexus and will be subject to the 5.5% sales tax that applies in Kenosha County.
Wisconsin enacted an economic nexus law following the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2018. They revised it starting in February 2021, removing the 200 transaction threshold for remote sellers. This means only remote sellers that sell $100,000 or more in gross sales in the previous 12-month period are required to collect and remit sales tax in Wisconsin.
What Is Eligible for Sales Tax in Wisconsin?
Sales tax in Wisconsin generally applies to all goods and few services, but the state has clearly outlined what this applies to on their website. Here is a brief summary of what that includes.
- Tangible Personal Property – Physical goods purchased in the state or shipped from locations in the state are subject to the local and state sales tax in that region.
- Coins and Stamps as Collector’s Items – If sold, leased, rented, or traded as collector’s items above face value, these are applicable for sales tax.
- Certain Digital Goods – Wisconsin charges sales and use tax on the transfer of digital goods, with the exception of sheet music, blank legal forms, web hosting services, webinar or webcast participation, address and phone number lookup websites, and data processing services.
- Services – Wisconsin charges sales tax on select services including service of tangible property, personal items or goods, cable television, Internet service (Wisconsin is grandfathered out of the ITFA), laundry and dry cleaning services, certain photography services, landscaping and lawn maintenance services, certain parking services, messaging services, towing and hauling services, boat docking, and storage services, certain other recreational and amusement services, and some additional specific services which are outlined in full on the Department of Revenue’s website here.
- Bringing Items in from Outside the State – If you purchase an item from outside the state of Wisconsin and bring it into the state you may be responsible for paying sales tax on that item directly if it was not collected by the merchant.
Before assuming exception to any of the sales tax applied in Wisconsin, be sure to review the documentation on the Department of Revenue’s website and ensure it does not apply to you in these situations.
To collect and pay sales tax in the state of Wisconsin, you must first register with the state. The process of registering can be done directly on the Department of Revenue website.
The application requires all pertinent business information. There are separate tax permits depending on the circumstances under which you will be collecting sales tax. For in-state sellers, you’ll want a Seller’s Permit, whereas if you are out of state, the Use Tax Certificate will be needed. All permits require a $20 application fee and will be used for application to all cities and municipalities within the state.
You will pay Wisconsin sales and use tax based on the following criteria:
- For Those in State – Sales tax collection in Wisconsin is determined by destination. Because of this, in-state sellers must use a calculator to determine the local tax rate the same as would out of state sellers. So if you make a sale to someone in Kenosha, even if your location is elsewhere in the state, the sales tax rate charged will be 5.5%, even if your local rate is 5.0%.
- Out of State Sellers – If you have sales tax nexus in the state of Wisconsin, you will use the same calculations as above, though the permit used and process to pay those taxes will be slightly different because you are located out of state.
- Shipping Charges – In Wisconsin, the shipping is taxable only if the items being shipped are taxable. If the goods being shipped include both taxed and untaxed goods, the shipping can be split accordingly to match.
- Filing Your Return – The Wisconsin Department of Revenue has an online portal through which you can pay your sales tax due here.
You can receive a discount on your total sales tax and use liability if it is paid on time regularly. Called the retailer’s discount, this is only available for taxes paid on time without an extension. The total discount is 0.5% of the amount due with a limit of $1,000 per reporting period.
Your filing frequency will be determined at the time you receive your permit. It will be related to the total liability you expect to have to the state. The deadlines for each frequency are listed below.
Quarterly: The following deadlines apply to those whose sales tax liability in Wisconsin is between $601 and $1,200 per quarter:
|January – March (Q1)||April 30|
|April – June (Q2)||July 31|
|July – September (Q3)||October 31|
|October – December (Q4)||January 31|
Monthly: The following deadlines apply to monthly filers who are not early monthly filers. The early monthly filers have a due date of the 2th of each month.
|January||February 28 / February 20 (early monthly filers)|
|February||March 31 / March 20 (early monthly filers)|
|March||April 30 / April 20 (early monthly filers)|
|April||May 31 / May 20 (early monthly filers)|
|May||June 30 / June 20 (early monthly filers)|
|June||July 31 / July 20 (early monthly filers)|
|July||August 31 / August 20 (early monthly filers)|
|August||September 30 / September 20 (early monthly filers)|
|September||October 31 / October 20 (early monthly filers)|
|October||November 30 / November 20 (early monthly filers)|
|November||December 31 / December 20 (early monthly filers)|
|December||January 31 / January 20 (early monthly filers)|
Annual: If you owe less than $600 per year in sales tax remittance, you may file annually.
Penalties and Interest for Late Payments
The State of Wisconsin charges a flat $20 late filing fee and an additional 5% penalty on the total sales and use tax due at the time listed above. This penalty is accrued monthly up to a maximum penalty of 25%. There are additional fines for repeat offenses, fraud, or other failures to file properly. If you have a zero return, you must file on time or pay the same fee.
- Wisconsin Department of Revenue website
- List of taxable transactions in the State of Wisconsin
- Online Registration portal for the State of Wisconsin
- Details about Seller’s Permit and Use tax collection permit
Wisconsin Sales Tax Software
If you operate within the State of Wisconsin or if you believe you have sales tax nexus within the State, there are a number of factors to keep in mind when collecting sales tax here. To help streamline this process, TaxTools offers a range of features such as data review and sorting. The TaxTools sales tax software solution is a good fit for those with e-commerce websites or other online or out-of-state businesses that want to streamline their sales tax collection in a single interface. Contact us today to learn more or to sign up for a free trial.
Last updated October 2023