If your company sells physical products or certain types of services, you will need to collect and pay sales tax. In Wisconsin, the first step isvis ...
How to Get a Resale Certificate in Wisconsin
Written by: Natalie Fell
Natalie is a business writer with experience in operations, HR, and training & development within the software, healthcare, and financial services sectors.
Edited by: David Lepeska
David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.
Published on July 5, 2022
Updated on May 22, 2023
If you have recently launched or are planning to launch a business that will sell products or services in Wisconsin, 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 business has a valid resale certificate, you can buy goods from a wholesaler without paying Wisconsin 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 a costly fine or potential jail time.
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 Wisconsin
In Wisconsin, the resale certificate is known as the “certificate of exemption” and you’ll need to obtain the form from the Department of Revenue. The certificate is not filed with the state of Wisconsin, it’s simply kept on file by the seller.
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 Wisconsin, you’ll need a seller’s permit as well as resale certificates 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.
How to Fill out the Wisconsin Certificate of Resale
In Wisconsin, the Department of Revenue handles the issuance of resale certificates. Start by visiting the website, then follow these simple steps:
- To download the form, click on the S-211-SST form link.
NOTE: Wisconsin is one of a group of states who participate in the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board and use the same standardized form.
- In the first section, select whether or not the certificate is for a single purchase. If so, enter the appropriate invoice or purchase order number.
- Next, enter your contact information along with the seller’s.
4. In the following section, check the box next to the category that best describes your business.
5. Under “Reason for exemption”, check the letter that best explains your exemption.
6. In the next section, enter the state-appropriate ID number and reasons for exemption.
7. Lastly, sign and date the form and keep it on file.
You can also complete the form online and submit either an electronic or printed copy to your vendor. For assistance, contact the Wisconsin Department of Revenue at (608) 266-2776.
Does a Wisconsin Resale Certificate Expire?
In Wisconsin, the certificate of exemption does not expire.
Resale certificates can be a bit of a hassle, but in Wisconsin they are an absolute necessity. So take the time to get certificates for each of your vendors to ensure full compliance with your state’s tax regulations.
How to Get a Resale Certificate in Wisconsin
Subscribe to Our Newsletter
and gain insider access to cutting-edge business insights and trends.
Wisconsin Sales Tax Calculator
Published on March 30, 2022
How to Start an LLC in Wisconsin
Published on March 16, 2022
A limited liability company (LLC) is an increasingly popular business structure for startups in the US, offering liability protection for ownershipa ...
How to Start a Business in Wisconsin
Published on December 7, 2021
Wisconsin is often called America’s Dairyland, probably because it’s the US’ largest dairy producer. It’s the birthplace of several topAmeri ...