If you have recently launched or are planning to launch a limited liability company (LLC) that will sell products or services in Alaska, you may want to get a resale certificate, or several of them, before you start doing business, as this can save you a lot of time and money.
It’s a relatively simple process, as detailed in this step-by-step guide.
What is a Resale Certificate?
If your LLC has a valid resale certificate, you can buy goods from a wholesaler without paying sales tax, though you may pay a use tax. Depending on the size of your business, this can save you tens of thousands of dollars each year.
The catch is that whenever you do use a resale certificate to purchase goods, you are legally bound to resell those items and collect sales tax when you do so. If you do not resell those items, or fail to collect sales tax, the punishment could be liability for the sales tax on those items.
Keep in mind, each resale certificate, also known as a resale license, applies to a single vendor. This means you’ll need a resale certificate for each one of your vendors.
You cannot use a resale certificate to buy items you do not intend to resell, such as a new computer for your business. This would be tax fraud, a felony offense. You are only able to buy items tax-exempt if you are going to collect sales tax on them later.
Not all wholesalers will accept resale certificates, nor do they have to. They may choose not to because of the risk of expired or false certificates, which would put the wholesaler on the hook for the sales tax.
How to Apply for a Resale Certificate in Alaska
Alaska has no state sales tax, but some municipalities and local jurisdictions do. You’ll need to contact those local offices to find out the procedure for getting a resale certificate and a sales tax permit in your jurisdiction.
In a few states, a seller’s permit, or sales tax permit, also serves as a resale certificate that applies to all vendors. But in most states, including Alaska, you’ll need a seller’s permit as well as resale certificates at the local levels for each of your vendors.
The seller’s permit identifies you with your state as a collector of sales tax. If you sell tangible personal property or goods you are required to have a sales tax permit. In some states, even a service provider like a lawyer is required to have a sales tax permit and collect state sales tax.
The resale certificate applies to items that you buy for resale, or for parts that you buy to manufacture something for sale.
Resale certificates can be a bit of a hassle, but in Alaska’s local jurisdictions they are an absolute necessity. So take the time to get certificates for each of your vendors to ensure full compliance with your state and local tax regulations.