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Online Retail Sales Tax 2019 Update: The Latest on Internet Sales Tax

Online Retail Sales Tax 2019 Update: The Latest on Internet Sales Tax

Remote online sellers face a changing legislative environment when complying with online sales taxes.

A bill (Senate Bill 126) recently submitted in Florida for the 2020 legislative session aims to require local and remote Internet sellers to collect and pay sales taxes. Currently, Florida consumers are responsible to pay sales taxes on online purchases from out of state sellers.

The Florida bill follows similar actions taken by more than 40 states after a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling (South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc.) allowing South Dakota to collect sales tax from online purchases regardless of a physical presence within the state.

If passed, the Florida bill would impact remote sellers with over $100,000 in sales or 200 or more retail sales transactions annually.

Remote sellers encompass a range of businesses from large corporations like Amazon and Walmart to small home-based businesses. Basically, states consider any business without a physical state presence that a makes an internet sale in that state to be a remote seller.

Regardless of your business size, if you’re a remote internet seller you should become knowledgeable about the internet sales tax laws in States where you make sales.

Below, we provide helpful information on the current state of internet sales taxes.

States that Require Remote Sellers to Pay Internet Sales Taxes

Remote sellers that have established an economic nexus within a state that requires an internet sales tax may be required to collect sales taxes.

An economic nexus is established when remote online sellers make sales in a state even when they do not have a physical presence. State laws on economic nexus vary with regards to the sales threshold that would trigger sales taxes.

Thresholds vary from state to state.

Guide to Economic Nexus Thresholds that Trigger Remote Sellers to Collect Sales Tax on Online Sales

Below is an October 2019 sales amount threshold snapshot of states requiring online sales taxes.

  • Alabama: $250,000
  • Arizona: $200,000 in 2019, $150,000 in 2020, $100,000 2021 and beyond
  • Arkansas: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • California: $500,000
  • Colorado: $100,000
  • Connecticut: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • Georgia: $250,000 or 200 separate sales transactions s ($100,000 starting January 1, 2020)
  • Hawaii: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • Idaho: $100,000
  • Illinois: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • Indiana: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • Iowa: $100,000
  • Kansas: $0 (all remote sellers meet the state’s economic nexus regardless of size)
  • Kentucky: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • Louisiana: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • Maine: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • Maryland: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • Massachusetts: $100,000
  • Michigan: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • Minnesota: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • Mississippi: $250,000
  • Nebraska:  $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • Nevada: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • New Jersey: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • New Mexico: $100,000
  • New York: $500,000 and 100 separate sales transactions
  • North Carolina: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • North Dakota: $100,000
  • Ohio: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • Oklahoma: $10,000
  • Pennsylvania: $100,000
  • Rhode Island: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • South Carolina: $100,000
  • South Dakota: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • Tennessee: $500,000
  • Texas: $500,000
  • Utah: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • Vermont: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • Virginia: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • Washington: $100,000
  • Washington DC: $$100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • West Virginia: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • Wisconsin: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions
  • Wyoming: $100,000 or 200 separate sales transactions

How Remote Sellers Collect Sales Taxes on Online Sales

Many states have enacted laws requiring remote online sellers to register, collect, and file sales taxes on purchases where they’ve established an economic nexus.

If you have an online ecommerce business, you also have to keep track of all sales tax jurisdictions—from local towns to state level.

Many businesses making remote online sales will use an automated service that tracks multiple tax jurisdictions and applies the proper sales tax amount on checkout.

Additionally, many remote sellers have opted to sell their products with third-party marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, or Etsy. These third-party marketplaces handle the sales tax collection directly with the consumers.

Are You a Remote Seller? Delegate Your Online Sales Tax Research.

If you’re a remote online seller, you’ll be required to keep up with the various state laws pertaining to online sale taxes. A Virtual Assistant can take on this research task plus find solutions that could benefit your business when dealing with multiple locations.

If you’d like to explore the benefits of using a Virtual Assistant Firm, give us a call at (904) 429-4588 and let’s see how we can help your business.

Online Sales Tax and Remote Sellers Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below are FAQs about online sales taxes and remote sellers.

What is a remote seller?

Remote sellers are out-of-state sellers. Ranging from large corporations to small home-based businesses, remote sellers sell products to consumers where they do not have a physical presence.

Do remote sellers have to collect sales tax on all internet sales?

In many states, online sellers are required to register to collect sales tax on purchases made in states they’ve established a physical presence. Since the U.S. Supreme Court South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc. ruling, many states have enacted laws requiring remote online sellers to collect sales taxes on purchases where they’ve established an economic nexus.

What are economic nexus laws?

An economic nexus is established when remote online sellers make sales in a state even when they do not have a physical presence. With an online sale, these businesses have essentially established an economic presence in a state. State laws on economic nexus vary with regards to the sales threshold that would trigger sales taxes. Thresholds may vary from $10,000 to $500,000 in sales or a certain number of sales transactions.

How do remote online sellers collect and file sales taxes in states where they do not reside?

Collecting sales tax on internet sales requires a business to get a Sales Tax Permit for the State where they make sales. Each state varies on method and fees for the permits. Businesses need to track multiple sales tax amounts since states vary in the taxes owed for purchases. Some businesses use automated online services to apply the proper sales tax amount for purchases made online. Additionally, many remote sellers have opted to sell their products with third-party marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, or Etsy. These third-party marketplaces handle the sales tax collection directly with the consumers.

Optimize Your Website’s Online & Voice Assistant Presence with FAQPage Structured Data

Optimize Your Website’s Online & Voice Assistant Presence with FAQPage Structured Data

How would you like to take up more real estate on Google’s search results page? Would you like to increase the discoverability of your website on Google Assistant devices?

You can by simply adding FAQPage Structured Data markup to your webpages.

In May 2019, Google rolled out a FAQPage Structured Data feature that businesses can use on their websites. The feature increases opportunities for businesses to feature helpful webpage content on Google Search result pages.

In many cases, websites implementing the structured data markup have dominated search results on specific topics.

By increasing the real estate on search result pages to display FAQs, these websites will have essentially crowded out competitors.

Additionally, displaying the FAQs online strengthens the perception of business’ knowledge on the specific topic and their helpfulness on their services. This would be an invaluable step toward establishing your expertise and authority in your industry.

Google Guidelines on FAQPage

Google provides guidance on how businesses may use FAQPage Schema on their website.

Basically, Google requests using the markup when your page has a list of questions and answers.

It’s important to note that the Q&As have to be visible on the page.

Valid uses for the markup can be a product, services, or topics page that lists FAQs.

Invalid uses of the markup include:

  • A product page where visitors can actively submit questions
  • Advertising purposes
  • Content that may be considered obscene, profane, sexually explicit, graphically violent, promotion of illegal or dangerous activities, hurtful or harassing language

It’s also important to note that Google does not guarantee that this content will be made available on their search result page:

Disclaimer: Google does not guarantee that your structured data will show up in search results, even if your page is marked up correctly. To determine whether a result gets a rich treatment, Google algorithms use a variety of additional signals to make sure that users see rich results when their content best serves the user’s needs.

Potential Uses of this FAQPage Feature?

Business Solutions Unlimited has started using this feature on webpages focused on knowledge-based topics. Recently, we used it on a blog post about determining employee costs.

We’re also using the markup on this webpage. We see this feature as an opportunity to provide helpful information for searchers and increase our online presence on search pages. Additionally, by displaying this content online, it will help increase our reputation as subject matter experts.

Below, we’ve brainstormed how some businesses might be able to use this feature.

How Could a Restaurant Use this FAQ Feature?

Without being promotional, restaurants could provide FAQs on a variety of topics. For example, they could answer the following questions on their menu page about gluten-free meals, sources for their ingredients, special food preparation techniques, and seasonal dishes. On their general page, they could include information on seating, notable history of the restaurant, whether they take reservations, etc.

How Could an Attorney Use this FAQ Feature?

Attorney websites could be a treasure trove for FAQs topics. Questions and answers could be provided on the firm’s specialties. Answers could be provided on education topics such as specific criminal law and family law topics.

How Could a Vacation Rental Business Use this FAQ Feature?

FAQs displayed on the search page could answer many questions a potential renter might have. Topics for Questions and Answers might include the size of the property, how many people can be accommodated, distance to specific notable locations (beach, downtown, etc.)

At the moment, not many businesses have implemented this feature on their webpages.

As stated above, we believe this is a wonderful opportunity for businesses to use this new feature to further promote their expertise plus increase their visibility online.

Don’t Have Time to Learn About and Implement this Feature on Your Website?

We understand that many business owners might consider implementing FAQPage Markup on their page just one more task to add to their busy day. That’s where we can help.

Give Business Solutions Unlimited a call at (904) 429-4588 and let us start helping you and your business today.

FAQPage Structured Data Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below are FAQs about FAQPage Structured Data.

What are Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are questions and answers to a specific topic. A website may include a FAQ page for visitors to gain answers to questions about the company or individual behind the website, details on products and services provided by the business or individual. Webpages dedicated to specific topics, products, or services may also include FAQs on the subject matter.

What is FAQPage Structured Data?

FAQPage Structured Data is Schema.org markup used by website content creators to help show what is considered rich results on Google’s search page. Google allows markups to be built by using JSON-LD or Microdata on webpages. Markup FAQ content may be eligible for a collapsible menu under search engine results on specific topics. When clicked, the menu reveals the answer. This markup can be a powerful tool for businesses to use to help increase their online presence and strengthen their reputation on search pages.

How Many FAQs can be displayed on search result pages using FAQPage Structured Data?

Currently, three FAQs are actively displayed on search result pages. A provided link allows the searcher to uncover up to seven more FAQs on the search result page.

How is FAQPage Structured Data used with Google Assistant?

Google uses structured data to provide content for voice-oriented Google Assistant devices. This provides an opportunity for businesses to increase their presence on multiple devices beyond basic web searches.

Determining Real Employee Cost and How to Avoid It

Determining Real Employee Cost and How to Avoid It

When a business decides to add a new employee, they’re really making a financial decision.

Certainly, the motivating factors behind the decision to hire an employee may be:

  • Handling increased workflow
  • Decreasing work hours experienced by you or the current members of your team
  • Adding specific skillsets and experience to your staff

However, businesses should include the financial impact of the actual employee cost on their budget before making a hiring decision.

Below, we’ll share how you can determine employee costs.

If you are considering hiring employees for your business, you might want to explore alternative ways you could reduce employee costs. One way would be hiring the services of a virtual assistant firm like Business Solutions Unlimited. We’d be happy to assist you in making a hiring or outsourcing decision.

Just call us at (904) 429-4588.

Calculating Employee Costs

If you want a quick estimate to determine employee cost, the general rule of thumb would be to multiply the basic wage by 1.25 to 1.40.

25% to 40% additional cost is typically used to cover other employee costs such as payroll taxes, benefits, and various overhead and administrative costs associated with the position (e.g., recruiting, accounting, technology, and travel).

Employee Cost Calculation Illustration

Let’s consider you want to hire an administrative assistant. In 2019, the national average for an administrative assistant salary is $44,950.

At 25%, the total employee cost goes to $56,187. At 40%, it would be $62,930.

If you’ve budgeted up to $63,000 for this new hire, you’d be in good shape.

However, if you budgeted $55,000 or less, you’d probably want to look for alternatives to hiring a full-time staff member.

What’s Typically Included with Employee Costs?

The largest portion of employee cost is generally the wage. In addition to wages, businesses will incur other costs.

Mandatory Employee Costs

These are costs mandated by the federal and state government. They include:

  • FICA (Social Security and Medicare)
  • Federal unemployment tax (FUTA)
  • State unemployment tax
  • Worker’s compensation insurance

Other Employee Costs

The cost of hiring and onboarding an employee should be factored in the total cost. These may include:

  • Recruiting fees
  • Background and drug testing
  • Initial and ongoing training
  • Uniforms and protective gear if necessary

Overhead costs should also be factored into the overall employee cost. These may include:

  • Workspace: Computer, chair, desk, phone, etc.
  • Office supplies: pens, paper, etc.
  • Payroll process

You should also keep in mind your employee benefits. These may include:

  • Health insurance
  • Paid time off (sick, holiday, and vacation)
  • Retirement savings

Depending on the employee position, costs may include:

  • Liability coverage
  • Bond
  • Travel to meetings, errands, conferences, etc.
  • Professional membership dues
  • Professional training and certifications

Alternative Ways to Avoid Employee Costs

If the actual employee cost exceeds your budget, you might want to explore other ways to get tasks done in your business.

You could use Independent Contractors to avoid costs associated with payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation and disability, 401(k), sick days, etc. However, the IRS is strict on the definition of Independent Contractors. Generally, if the business controls how and when work is to be done by the individual, they cannot be considered an Independent Contractor.

Another alternative is to consider using a virtual assistant firm for your tasks. Generally, VA firms like Business Solutions Unlimited can handle tasks ranging from administrative to bookkeeping to marketing.

The VA firm is responsible for all of the employee costs.

If you’d like to explore the benefits of using a VA firm, give us a call at (904) 429-4588 and let’s see how we can help your business.

Employee Cost Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below are FAQs about the financial costs of employees.

What is employee cost?

The true employee cost is the amount a business pays for wages and total hours worked, benefits, taxes, and overhead necessary to employ an individual. Additionally, employee costs may include recruiting fees, hiring and onboarding costs, plus administrative costs such as business travel, technology systems, and professional organization membership dues.

How do you calculate employee cost?

The general rule of thumb in calculating employee cost would be multiplying their base salary by 1.25 to 1.40. This will help to determine an employee cost estimate you can use for budgeting purposes.

How do you avoid employee costs?

Businesses can decrease employee costs in various ways. For example, by hiring Independent Contractors, businesses may avoid costs associated with payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation and disability, 401(k), sick days, etc. Another way to avoid employee costs would be by hiring the services of a virtual assistant firm, who would be responsible for all employee costs.

Google Introduces More Ways to Maximize Your Google My Business Listing

Google Introduces More Ways to Maximize Your Google My Business Listing

This summer, Google announced new features businesses may use to enhance their Google My Business (GMB) listing.

According to Google, the new GMB features will help businesses “make their profiles as unique as they are and as descriptive as the queries that get customers there.”

Let’s take a look at these new features.

Give Welcome Offers to First Time Customers

Businesses can reward customers who follow their online presence with an offer or discount. According to Google, more than half of online customers look for an offer or discount.

Create a Short Name for Your Google My Business Presence

Have you ever looked at your GMB URL? It’s usually a bunch of numbers and letters—nothing you’d want to add to a business card or email. Plus, it’s not very memorable.

Now business owners can claim an easily remembered unique short name for their GMB presence. Businesses will be able to change their short name up to three times a year.

Very soon, these short names will be searchable on Google.

Specify Your Business GMB Cover Image

Business owners can now set their preferred cover image for their GMB presence.

Give More Presence to Business Logos

For businesses with completed GMB profiles, Google will give prominence to their logo in the upper right-hand of their GMB box.

More Prominence for Photos

Google will add a new dynamic module to GMB profiles to display photos uploaded by businesses.

Very soon, businesses will be able to add photo captions to their photos.

Rewarding Business with “Local Favorite” Designation

Google also announced a forthcoming “Local Favorite” designation. The top 5 percent of businesses that show consistent and great customer experiences will be highlighted in the “Local Favorite” category.

Why it’s Time to Get Your Google My Business Profile Up to Speed

These new features show Google’s commitment to making branded search results a final destination to customer searches.

As we mentioned in our recent article Why You Should Audit Your Google My Business Presence:

In recent years, Google has not-so-quietly been staging a bit of a takeover on the Web. Not content to be the largest search engine in the world, Google is actively working toward a “zero-click-query” environment.

Basically, Google wants to serve up answers to searcher queries—without sending them to a website. Google wants to keep users on Google.

To stay competitive in local online search, businesses should take full advantage of the features available on GMB. Doing so will help the business develop and maintain a robust online presence that’s not solely dependent on a website for converting searchers to clients.

Don’t Have Time to Manage Your Google My Business Profile?

Many business owners might look at their GMB profile as just more tasks to add to their busy schedules. However, to stay relevant with local searches, they’re necessary tasks to aid in the future success of your business.

That’s why we’re here. Give Business Solutions Unlimited a call at (904) 429-4588 and let us get to work for your business today.

Align Your Landing Pages with Your Promotions for a Better Response

Align Your Landing Pages with Your Promotions for a Better Response

Not long ago, a Facebook ad appeared on my newsfeed that motivated me to click thru to the other side of their promotion.

Disappointingly, the destination of the click landed me on the company’s website home page.

The content of the home page provided me with something about the business and many link options—but nothing related to the initial message the prompted my initial response.

So I left the website.

Leaving the website cost the business two things:

  • Cost of the initial click from their Facebook ad
  • Cost of losing a potential customer showing an initial interest in their offering

That cost could be reduced if the company had connected their ad to a landing page that was optimized to the targeted audience and relevant to their promotional message.

Types of Promotions that Could Generate Traffic to Your Landing Page

While the example above illustrated a Facebook ad to generate traffic to a company’s website, there are other promotional media and platforms to keep in mind.

PPC Ads

Google Ads and Facebook Ads are probably the most popular means of paying per click to generate traffic to a landing page. Both can be highly effective at targeting demographics and user intent.

Direct Mail

The mailbox remains a highly effective method of generating interest in a company’s products and services. For example, a postcard targeted to a specific demographic could be effective at motivating the recipient to visit a website for more information. The response would be better if the URL published on the postcard sent the visitor to a specific page that complements the message and look/feel of the postcard.

Elements of a Landing Page Aligned with Your Promotions

To create a relevant and engaging promotions experience for your potential customer, effective landing pages should include:

  • Relevant headline matched closely with your ad headline and message
  • Supportive tag line
  • Attractive image that emotionally resonates with visitor
  • Copy that features benefits of your product or service
  • Testimonials or badges that foster trust
  • A very clear call to action (phone, lead capture form, etc.)

Before wrapping up your landing page, step back and ask yourself:

“Is the content on your page consistent with your ad?”

If the ad promotes a sale, is the offer front and center on your page?

If your ad is targeting a solution to a problem of a specific demographic (for example, hearing aids to elderly men), does your landing page speak to that audience?

When your landing page matches what your visitor expects to find after seeing your ad, the chances for conversion increases. After all, they did show interest in your message—it’s only fitting that you provide them with a continuation of that message.

Not only will they be more satisfied with making the journey to your landing page but, you’ll be happier with your return on investment.

Is Managing Your Promotions More than You Can Manage? Reach Out for Help.

If you’d like help, give Business Solutions Unlimited a call at (904) 429-4588 for a free consultation and to learn more about how we help your business today.