The best description of preparing sales tax returns I’ve heard is that it’s a time vampire. It’s a time suck. You start out thinking things will be pretty straightforward, but it ends up taking way longer than you planned, and then repeats each month or quarter.
And you’re not alone: Merchants report spending hours or days each filing period stitching together multiple reports, trying to make sense of why numbers differ, making manual adjustments, and playing a maddening game of, “What cities belong to which counties?” No wonder so many business owners throw their hands in the air and pay third parties hundreds of dollars per month just to get their own data formatted.
We recognized the problem, and have been working to do something about it. With the launch of the United States sales tax report—an enhanced capability available exclusively to merchants on Shopify Tax, filing prep just got faster, easier—and more accurate.
What is the United States Sales Tax Report?
You now have near-instant access to all the details you need to prepare for filing sales tax. This new report provides both net sales and taxable sales, breaks both down by state, county, and local-level jurisdictions, and shows the exact reporting code.
Transaction details are available to show how each order contributed to the totals. What once might have taken days or hours can now be done in a fraction of the time.
What are the benefits of the new report?
Fast and easy access to the data you need to file
Sales and tax data is available in a single report with data broken down by state, county, city and time period. Jurisdiction codes are available where possible to assist you in identifying the right amounts for each line item in your filing.
More detailed reports organized to your needs
The report can be personalized to fit your needs. Hide columns, filter by destination or time period. Get the view you want. Remember how in grammar school you’d get full credit only if the answer is right and you show your work? We do too. That’s why full transaction data is available for reference and audit purposes.
Included with Shopify Tax
Enhanced reporting is available for no additional charge for those already on Shopify Tax. Furthermore, it’s built right into your admin meaning no more dealing with multiple platforms, passwords, support people. Shopify is your one stop shop for all your sales tax needs.
How does the United States sales tax report work?
From your Shopify admin, navigate to your Reports and search for United States sales tax. There are three main components that make up this report:
- The Country view is the main view you will see when you open the report. It provides a breakdown of net sales and the taxes collected for each state.
- By tapping on a state, you can see the Jurisdiction view. The Jurisdiction view provides a breakdown of net sales as well as taxes collected for a selected state, as well as county, city and special (where applicable) taxes collected within that state.
- From either report, tapping on View Transactions opens a detailed breakdown of each transaction where tax was collected.
There are several ways to customize the reports further:
- Time periods can be modified by tapping on the button just above the table that defaults to Month to date (options for custom date ranges, quarters and years are coming soon.)
- Columns can be added or removed by tapping on the column icon at the top right of the table.
- Filters can be applied by tapping on the filter icon at the top left of the table.
All reports can be exported by tapping on Export at the top right of the page.
Tips for using the United States Sales Tax Report
- Ensure your products are categorized: did you know that antiperspirant and deodorant are taxed differently in Texas? Shopify Tax does. And by ensuring the right category is applied to each of your products, our tax service applies and exempts the right taxes in the right places, more accurately calculating ‘taxable’ sales on your behalf.
- Export the transactions report to see your complete data: if your business is boomin’ or multi-channel (i.e. selling through marketplaces), this gives you the most complete view into all of your orders.
- Net out refunds: when you refund an amount to a buyer (versus a line item), Shopify doesn’t know whether that is inclusive or exclusive of tax. If a portion of the money back to your customer is a refund of taxes, you’ll want to subtract that out accordingly.
This is 100 times better. Previously, to sort through all the data, I had created a custom spreadsheet and formulas to spit out the data that the state of Illinois needs. With this report, that's no longer necessary. I just pull up the Illinois Department of Revenue site in a new browser tab and copy the numbers. Takes 15 minutes max.
The new report is live right now for merchants on Shopify Tax who sell within the United States—and it's the first of many exciting improvements we’re making. Over time, we’re committed to tackling the end-to-end challenge of managing sales tax in the United States and beyond.
Next up? Making these reports even better with more personalized filters and continued enhancements that are designed to make preparing for tax-filing even easier. Explore the new United States sales tax report today!