How to file a sales tax return in California California: Sales Tax Handbook


How to file your sales taxes in California

Once your business has a California sales tax license and begins to make sales, you are required to start collecting sales taxes on behalf of the California government and filing regular sales tax returns. This page will help you understand the basics of your tax collection and filing responsibilities.

How To Collect Sales Tax In California

If you have an in-state location in California, you are required to collect both state and district sales taxes. District sales taxes vary between 0.10% and 1.00%, and in some cases more than one district tax will apply to any given location.

If you have a single location, in-state buyers who are buying from outside your district will only be charged the state sales tax (not your district surtax).

If you have multiple locations, you must also collect district sales taxes from any buyer who resides in a district in which you have nexus (no matter which location they are buying from).

Sales Tax Collection Discounts In California

While many states allow merchants to keep a small percentage of the sales tax they collect as a collection discount, or compensation for the work put in collecting the tax on behalf of the state, California does not currently allow this.

Your California Sales Tax Filing Requirements

If your monthly tax liability is over $10,000, you must file online via the California Board of Equalization's web portal. Otherwise, you also have the option to file on paper with Form BOE-401-EZ.

You will need to report your gross sales for the month, deduct any nontaxible transactions, and then calculate the total amount of sales tax due.

Be aware that there are late-filing penalties, and late-payment penalties, of 10% of the sales tax owed (with a maximum penalty of 10% even if you both file and pay late).

If you have no sales tax liabilities any given filing period, you will still be required to file a "zeroed-out" tax return. Failure to file a return can result in your sales tax license being revoked.

Your California Sales Tax Filing Frequency & Due Dates

Your business's sales tax return must be filed by the last day of the month following reporting period. For a list of this year's actual due dates, see our calendar of California sales tax filing due dates.


Where To File Your California Sales Tax Return:

Filing Your California Sales Tax Returns Online

California supports electronic filing of sales tax returns, which is often much faster than filing via mail.

Single-location retailers and businesses with only one location that pre-pay sales taxes on a quarterly basis may file their sales tax returns electronically. Note that currently, only Form BOE-401-A (with Schedules A and T only) and Form BOE-401-EZ support electronic filing.

California allows businesses to make sales tax payments electronically via the internet.

Electronic payments are required from taxpayers if the estimated monthly tax liability is at least ten thousand dollars.

You can process your required sales tax filings and payments online using the official BOE Online Filing website, which can be found here . You should have received credentials to access your BOE Online Filing account when you applied for your California sales tax license.

Filing Your California Sales Tax Returns Offline

While it is highly recommended that you file online using the BOE Online Filing website, it is possible to file your required sales tax reportings offline using California Form BOE-401-A2, which you can download and print here . Once you have completed your required reportings, you can mail it to the state at this address:

California Sales Tax Filing Address:
Board of Equalization
PO Box 942879
Sacramento, CA 94279-7072

Please note that if you file your California sales taxes by mail, it may take significantly longer to process your returns and payments.

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