Shopify Calculating California Sales Tax Incorrectly?

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Tourist
5 0 1

It looks to me as though Shopify is incorrectly calculating taxes when "Calculate taxes automatically is clicked."

TaxJar says: "If you only have one location in California, then you’ll charge two sales tax rates. You’ll charge your district rate to buyers located in your district, and the California state rate (7.25% in 2018) to buyers outside your district." https://www.taxjar.com/states/california-sales-tax-online/#how-to-collect-sales-tax-in-california

The California BOA website says the same thing (https://www.boe.ca.gov/sutax/faqtaxrate.htm#5): you only have to collect district taxes if you make a sale to someone else in the same district in California. When you sell to other districts in California, you only need to collect district sales tax if you are "engaged in business" in that district. The website defines engaged in business, but the relevant part here is if you: "Ship or deliver the property into the district using your own vehicle." 

Here is what the website (https://www.boe.ca.gov/sutax/faqtaxrate.htm#5) says:

If I am located in a district, am I subject to my district's tax if I make a sale to a person located outside the district?

You are generally not required to pay for your district's tax if the customer does not take possession of the property in your district.

However, if your customer is located in another district, you are generally required to pay that district's use tax if:

  • You are “engaged in business” in that district and you ship or deliver the property, as agreed to in the contract of sale, into the district (or otherwise participate in the district in the making of the sale).


Shopify appears to be charging district taxes to those in counties in which I am not engaged in business.

Am I missing something?

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New Member
2 0 1

That's odd because it's the opposite for us. We need shopify to charge all the district taxes but they are not. We have economic nexus (no physical location in CA), but the only way to set that up in shopify right now is to add a random zip code, so it's only charging the correct tax rate for sales in that zip code.

 

Either way, the CA tax setup in shopify needs work and quickly!

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Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
1322 31 131

Hi @gone_wild,

 

Nick here from Shopify. 

 

Thanks for reaching out, I know how taxes can be confusing to figure out even on the best of days. California is a very unique state in the fact that it has both an origin and destination based sales tax. While county and city taxes are origin based, district taxes are based on the customer/ buyers location within California and this is why Shopify charges district taxes automatically for you with the setting. Should customers from different districts in California buy from your store no matter where you are located, there are different tax implications. I did some research and found a blog post from Tax Jar which goes into this in much more detail here02-54-pig65-o01hz

 

I would recommend you visiting your local tax office or a professional accountant about this to make sure this is correct, but from what I have found out by researching this, is that if you sell to a customer who's address is based in a different district you are required to charge the tax of that specific district. Shopify has an information guide for setting up taxes for economic nexus which you can see here but I cannot stress going to see a professional accountant or your local tax office enough to make sure you are charging the right taxes based on your exact situation. 

 

I hope this helps and explains why Shopify's automatic tax setting would charge district taxes in this case. 

 

All the best, Nick

Let me know if you've found this helpful and by hitting solved.
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Tourist
5 0 1

Hi Nick,

 

The quotation you posted from TaxJar confuses the issue somewhat. It says that "district taxes are based on the destination of the buyer." This seems to imply that in California you pay the district tax according to the destination of the buyer. As the TaxJar quote and the quote from BOA that I posted above clarify, in California you only pay district taxes when you do business in the same district as the buyer. It is only in this sense that California is a modified origin state. 

Therefore, it is incorrect for Shopify to charge district taxes for California customers that live outside of the district in which you do business.

Thanks,
Wren

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New Member
1 0 0

I am having the same issue. I contacted the California BOA and they gave the exact explanation that Wren provided. Thus Shopify is not charging the taxes correctly. Is there anything that can be done to resolve this so that retailers don't have significant tax accounting issues?

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