How Sales and Use Tax Nexus Works

Jul 25, 2023

How Sales and Use Tax Nexus Works

Sales and use tax can be a complex and challenging aspect of running a business, especially in today's digital age, where online shopping has become increasingly popular. This all-inclusive guide delves into the fundamental concept of the sales and use tax nexus, its impact on businesses, and the crucial significance of compliance. Take a deep dive into the various triggers for nexus, commonly overlooked audit triggers, and corrective measures. Moreover, we will explore a foolproof compliance solution that can aid businesses in navigating the intricate complexities of sales and use tax. Let's get started and thoroughly understand this critical aspect of business operations.

Understanding Sales and Use Tax

Sales and use tax is a form of consumption tax imposed on the sale of goods and services. State and local governments typically levy it in the United States. While sales tax is imposed on the sale of goods, use tax is imposed on the use, storage, or consumption of goods within a state, regardless of where the purchase was made.

The responsibility of collecting and remitting sales and use tax falls on the seller. Traditionally, this responsibility was determined by the seller's physical presence in a particular state. However, with the rise of online shopping and e-commerce, the concept of physical presence has evolved, leading to the emergence of an economic nexus.

Economic Nexus: A Game-Changing Precedent

The concept of economic nexus gained prominence with the landmark Supreme Court case South Dakota v. Wayfair in 2018. The State of South Dakota argued that Wayfair, an online retailer, should be required to collect and remit sales tax despite needing a physical presence in the state. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of South Dakota, setting a new precedent for sales tax collection.

Under economic nexus, sellers must collect and remit sales and use tax if they exceed a specific threshold of total sales, number of transactions, or number of customers in a particular state. This threshold varies from state to state, with each jurisdiction having its own rules and regulations. Businesses must understand the specific thresholds and requirements in each locality they sell into, as non-compliance can lead to significant penalties and interest.

Overlooked Sales and Use Tax Audit Triggers

Compliance with sales and use tax regulations is essential to avoid costly audits and penalties. However, several overlooked triggers can inadvertently lead to non-compliance. Businesses need to be aware of these triggers and take corrective measures to mitigate potential risks. Let's explore some of these triggers and the corresponding corrective measures:

Physical Nexus: Having a physical presence in a state, such as a brick-and-mortar store, warehouse, or even using third-party facilities, can establish a nexus. It is crucial for businesses to accurately track and monitor their physical presence in different jurisdictions to determine their tax obligations.

Economic Nexus: Exceeding the threshold for sales, transactions, or customers in a state can trigger economic nexus. Businesses must closely monitor their sales activities in each state and promptly start collecting and remitting sales tax once the threshold is met or exceeded.

Click-through Nexus: If a remote seller generates sales through referrals from in-state agents, such as online advertisements, it can trigger click-through nexus. Businesses need to monitor their online sales channels and ensure compliance with click-through nexus requirements.

Attributional Nexus: This type of nexus is established when an out-of-state seller has a presence in a state through an in-state actor, such as a contractor or agent. Businesses should carefully assess their relationships with in-state actors to determine if attributional nexus applies.

Affiliate Nexus: When an in-state company acts as an agent for an out-of-state seller or provides customer services for a related out-of-state company, affiliate nexus can be triggered. Businesses need to evaluate their relationships with in-state entities to identify potential affiliate nexus obligations.

"Cookie" Nexus: Many states establish a nexus if a state resident visits an out-of-state seller's website and downloads cookies or apps. Businesses should be aware of the implications of website visits and downloads in different jurisdictions to ensure compliance with "cookie" nexus requirements.

By proactively addressing these triggers, businesses can minimize their risk of non-compliance and the associated penalties and interest.

Traact: A Compliance Solution for Businesses

Navigating the complexities of the sales and use tax nexus can be overwhelming for businesses, especially those operating in multiple states. That's where Traact comes in. It is a comprehensive compliance solution designed to help businesses stay on top of their sales and use tax obligations. With the intuitive platform, businesses can streamline their tax compliance processes, minimize the risk of audits, and ensure accurate and timely collection and remittance of sales and use tax.

Traact offers a range of features and benefits, including:

Nexus Assessment: Our SaaS-based software conducts thorough nexus assessments to determine a business' tax liability based on various triggers and thresholds. This assessment helps businesses identify potential areas of non-compliance and take corrective measures.

Compliance Monitoring: The software integrates with businesses' existing systems to monitor sales activities and track compliance with sales and use tax regulations. It provides real-time alerts and notifications to ensure businesses stay compliant at all times.

Automated Tax Calculation: The platform automates the calculation of sales and use tax, considering the specific rules, rates, and exemptions in each jurisdiction. This reduces the risk of errors and ensures accurate tax collection and remittance.

Reporting and Filing: Traact simplifies reporting and filing by generating accurate sales and using tax returns. It also assists businesses in meeting reporting requirements, such as customer information reporting and notice obligations.

With our comprehensive compliance solution, businesses can focus on their core operations while ensuring compliance with sales and use tax regulations in every jurisdiction they operate.


The sales and use tax nexus is a complex and ever-evolving aspect of business operations. Understanding the various triggers for nexus, complying with tax regulations, and taking corrective measures are essential for businesses to avoid audits, penalties, and interest. Traact offers a comprehensive compliance solution that helps businesses navigate the complexities of sales and use tax, ensuring accurate and timely collection and remittance of taxes. By leveraging our expertise and software, businesses can achieve compliance and focus on their growth and success.

Learn more about our solutions for finance & taxes by scheduling a free demo today.

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