Are You a Temporary Seller?
Generally, if you make three or more sales of items subject to California sales and use tax in a 12-month period, you are required to register for a California seller’s permit and pay tax on your taxable sales.
However, if you will be selling items at a location for less than 90 days, you are considered a temporary seller, and are required to hold a temporary seller’s permit. You will need to register each temporary sales location. On the other hand, if you already hold a seller’s permit for a permanent place of business but also make sales at a temporary location, you will not need to register for a separate temporary seller’s permit. Instead, you must register for a sub-permit for each of your temporary locations.
The following is a list of the most common types of sellers who may need a temporary seller’s permit when operating less than 90 days.
|Type||Description of Sales|
|Firework Stands/Holiday Trees||The sale of fireworks and Christmas trees. You are required to register each location where sales are made and obtain a temporary seller's permit.|
|Garage Sales||When you have a garage sale and sell used items, you are generally not required to hold a seller’s permit. However, if you have more than two garage sales within a 12-month period, you are required to hold a seller’s permit.|
|Online Auction Sales||Your online sales of merchandise are generally taxable in California even when you sell through online auction houses such as eBay. However, some online auction houses are considered marketplace facilitators, and therefore the retailer of the items you sell, and will collect and report the tax on those sales. You will be required to hold a seller's permit and report the tax if the online auction house is not considered a marketplace facilitator.
For more information, please see publication 109, Internet Sales and our Tax Guide for Marketplace Facilitator Act.
|Crafts||You are required to have a permit if you are selling, even temporarily, new or handcrafted items or used items you purchased for the purpose of reselling to others.|
|Conventions/Trade Shows||If you participate in California conventions and trade shows and make sales or take orders for sales at or during the conventions or trade shows, you will generally be required to hold either an ongoing or temporary seller’s permit.
For in-state retailers, you must obtain an ongoing seller’s permit if you are engaged in the business of selling tangible personal property. Out-of-state retailers that exceed specific sales thresholds are required to obtain an ongoing seller’s permit. Retailers not exceeding these thresholds are only required to obtain a temporary seller’s permit.
For more information regarding these thresholds, please see publication 77, Out-of-State Sellers: Do You Need to Register with California?
|Swap Meets, Flea Markets or Special Events||In general, sellers at swap meets, flea markets and special events that make retail sales are required to obtain a seller’s permit.
As a seller at swap meets, flea markets and special events, you are required to provide specific information to the operator of the event. You can use form CDTFA-410-D, Swap Meets, Flea Markets, or Special Events Certification, to provide the required information.
For more information, please see publication 111, Operators of Swap Meets, Flea Markets, or Special Events.
Register for a Temporary Seller’s Permit
Obtaining a temporary seller’s permit is easy and free. Please visit our Online Services webpage, select the Registrations tab and follow the steps to register a business activity with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA).
Temporary permits are issued to individuals with no permanent place of business, and cover a selling period of 90 days or less at one location. The registration process is the same whether you are registering for a temporary seller’s permit or a seller’s permit for a permanent business location. However, there are some things to keep in mind when registering for a temporary seller’s permit.
- You may obtain a temporary seller’s permit 90 days prior to your business start date.
- You need to provide a valid start and end date for each temporary sales location.
- You may register for multiple locations on a temporary seller’s permit as long as they operate within the same 90-day period.
- You may not add a new sales location to an existing temporary seller’s permit.
Once you finish registering, you may print a temporary seller’s permit for each location.
File Your Return
People who are issued temporary seller’s permits are required to file a return due on or before the last day following the month after the temporary sales location closes. For example, if you have a temporary seller’s permit for a sales location active from January 15, 2020 – January 27, 2020, then your return is due on or before February 29, 2020.
For more information on how to file and what you need to get started, please visit our Online Services webpage and select the File a Return tab.
Sales Made on State Designated Fairgrounds
Effective July 1, 2018, if you are a retailer who makes sales of tangible personal property that take place on the real property of a California state-designated fair ("state-designated fairground"), you must separately state the amount of those sales on your Sales and Use Tax return. Sales that take place on state-designated fairgrounds include over-the-counter sales on the fairgrounds and also may include sales in which the property is shipped or delivered to or from the fairground.
The separately reported amount will be used for funding allocation purposes only. There is no additional tax or fee due on these sales. For more information on the new reporting requirement, please see our Tax Guide for Reporting Requirements for Sales on State-Designated Fairgrounds.
Know Your Tax Rates
The sales and use tax rate that you are required to report and pay will vary depending on where you do business. We offer several tools on our website to help you identify the correct tax rate. You can look up a tax rate by address or look up tax rates by city and county.
There are instances when certain sellers are exempt from holding a seller’s permit based upon the items they sell and the type of seller they are. Below is a list of sellers that may be exempt from obtaining a temporary seller's permit.
- Direct Sales/Sales Agents – If you do not have a storefront and you only sell products you buy from an Revenue and Taxation Code (RTC) section 6015 retailer – like Avon or Tupperware – you do not need a seller’s permit. In this case, you are considered an agent of the retailer, and that company will remit sales tax to the CDTFA on your behalf. Typically, individuals who sell these products will have “shows” or “parties” and sell merchandise at their own home, a customer’s home, or through direct sales to friends and family. For more information please see RTC section 6015
- Exempt Food Products – If you only sell cold food (that is not hot prepared), your sales are generally considered nontaxable, and you will not be required to obtain a seller’s permit. For more information, please see Regulation 1603, Taxable Sales of Food Products and publication 22, Dining and Beverage Industry.
- Occasional Sellers – If your taxable sales are infrequent, you may not be required to obtain a seller’s permit. For instance, a person who holds a garage sale no more than twice in a 12 month period would qualify as an occasional seller. For more information, please see Regulation 1595, Occasional Sales – Sale of a Business – Business Reorganization.
- Qualified Itinerant Veteran Vendors – If you are a veteran who received an honorable discharge and are unable to work in manual labor because of a service-connected disability, you may work as a traveling vendor, without a seller’s permit, if you meet all of the required conditions. This exemption from the requirement to obtain a seller’s permit is valid until January 1, 2022. For more information, please see RTC section 6018.3, Itinerant Veteran Vendors.
If You Need Help
If at any time you need assistance with topics included in this guide – or with topics not included – feel free to contact us by telephone or email. For contact information and hours of operation please see our How to Contact Us webpage.
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