Everything you need to know about North Carolina state sales and use tax
What is the sales tax rate in North Carolina?
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The North Carolina sales tax rate is currently 4.75%. In North Carolina, each county can add sales taxes on top of the state rate.
Taxes in North Carolina are destination-based, meaning the sales tax rate is based, or determined from, the destination location an item is shipped to. This complicates business for retailers who need to have the exact and up-to-date sales tax rate for every shipment they make.
To see a full breakout of sales tax rates in NC by state, county, city and special district, use our easy North Carolina sales tax calculator. After putting in any ZIP code, you can enter a retail price to calculate sales tax totals.
What is the use tax in North Carolina?
The North Carolina state use tax rate is the same as the state, county, city and special district rates.
If you reside in NC, use tax is due to the state on any and all transactions where sales tax has not been paid, even out-of-state internet sales.
Who has to pay sales or use tax to North Carolina?
In general, a business must collect and remit all applicable sales taxes if that business has nexus, a physical presence such as a brick-and-mortar location, within a given state. The presence of an employee or salesperson, delivery by the seller's vehicle, and storage of materials usually establishes nexus as well.
North Carolina says that an out-of-state seller is required to collect tax if they can be defined as a "retailer". North Carolina has certain additional laws establishing nexus for other reasons such as out-of-state businesses using in-state affiliates, advertisers or vendors, or businesses that make internet sales or mail catalogs.
If you are not sure if you have established nexus in North Carolina, you can usually get free help by contacting the North Carolina Department of Revenue. Click here for an updated listing of direct phone numbers. You could also contact a qualified certified public accountant or lawyer who specializes in tax law in North Carolina. Click here for listing of recommended resources.
Special rules applying to
sales and use taxes in North Carolina
- Shipping is taxable.
- Finance charges are exempt from sales tax, when stated separately.
- Clothing is taxable, except for certain exemptions.
- Sales tax holidays are held for Energy Star items as well as some back to school items.
Since North Carolina legislators can vote to change sales and use tax rates at any time, it is very difficult for individuals to keep track of the changes. The population of NC state is also rapidly changing, which can cause frequent updates to the ZIP codes and local municipality names and complicates the job of keeping track of sales tax jurisdictions.