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Tax Obligations for Non-Resident Ecommerce Businesses: A Guide to Eliminating Them

Apr 7, 2024 | USA Accounting

If you are a non-resident of the US, discover powerful strategies to eliminate or minimise tax obligations for non-resident ecommerce businesses in this blog. Don’t let taxes hinder your growth; keep reading to learn more!

A Guide to Eliminating Tax Obligations for Non-Resident Ecommerce Businesses

The rapid growth of ecommerce businesses has been facilitated by the advent of the internet and technological advancements. These businesses operate remotely, leveraging digital platforms to connect with customers across different countries.

Ecommerce businesses can tap into new markets and expand their customer base by eliminating geographical boundaries. However, with this expansion comes the need to understand and address tax obligations for non-resident ecommerce businesses in various jurisdictions.

This blog aims to guide and help with tax obligations for non-resident ecommerce businesses and explore ways to eliminate or minimise them. Let’s get started!

Before everything else, do you know that you can solely focus on managing your ecommerce business development? By checking out our Accounting for Ecommerce Services!

Tax Obligations for Non-Resident Ecommerce Businesses: Understanding Sales Tax in the United States

Sales Tax Nexus

Sales tax nexus refers to the significant connection or presence a business has in a particular state that triggers sales tax obligations. Non-resident ecommerce businesses must evaluate if they have established nexus in individual states.

Factors such as physical presence, economic activity, sales volume, or the number of transactions can contribute to determining nexus.

Thresholds for Sales Tax Registration

Each state in the United States sets its thresholds for sales tax registration. Non-resident ecommerce businesses should monitor their sales activities within each state to determine if they meet the threshold requiring sales tax registration.

Thresholds can be based on either a specific dollar amount of sales or a certain number of transactions within a state.

Tax Obligations for Non-Resident Ecommerce Businesses: Sales Tax Collection and Remittance

In the United States, sales tax is a significant aspect of tax obligations for non-resident ecommerce businesses. Unlike value-added tax (VAT) in other countries, sales tax is levied at the state level rather than the federal level.

For non-resident ecommerce businesses, several considerations come into play when dealing with sales tax:

Registering for Sales Tax

Tax obligations for non-resident ecommerce businesses start upon registration for sales tax with the respective state tax authorities if they meet the sales tax nexus and threshold requirements in a state.

This typically involves completing the state’s registration form, providing business details, and obtaining a sales tax permit or certificate.

Calculating Sales Tax

Once registered for sales tax in a specific state, tax obligations for non-resident ecommerce businesses also include accurately calculating the applicable sales tax rate for each transaction. The sales tax rate varies from state to state and may consist of additional local taxes.

Utilising sales tax automation tools or consulting state-specific resources can ensure accurate calculations.

Collecting and Remitting Sales Tax

Once registered, non-resident ecommerce businesses are responsible for collecting sales tax from customers in states where they have nexus. This entails adding the appropriate sales tax amount to the transaction total.

Collected sales tax must be regularly remitted to the state tax authorities within the specified filing frequency, usually monthly, quarterly, or annually.

Tax Obligations for Non-Resident Ecommerce Businesses: Strategies to Eliminate or Minimize Tax Obligations

Developing effective strategies is crucial for non-resident ecommerce businesses to eliminate or minimise their tax obligations for non-resident ecommerce businesses. By employing the following approaches, businesses can optimise their tax position and reduce potential tax liabilities:

Structuring Business Operations

Careful consideration of the structure of business operations can significantly impact tax liabilities.

Non-resident ecommerce businesses should explore options such as choosing the appropriate legal entity, implementing transfer pricing policies, and utilising intermediary companies to optimise their tax position.

Utilising Tax Treaties

Tax treaties are vital in minimising tax obligations for non-resident ecommerce businesses. These agreements between countries provide guidelines for allocating taxing rights and often offer provisions to avoid double taxation.

Businesses can effectively reduce their overall tax burden by understanding and leveraging the benefits provided by tax treaties.

Claiming Tax Deductions

Minimising tax obligations can be achieved through the effective utilisation of tax deductions. In addition to well-known deductions like business expenses and advertising costs, non-resident ecommerce businesses should explore often overlooked deductions.

Examples include the home office deduction for a designated workspace, deducting startup costs, claiming education and training expenses, and deducting business-related travel expenses.

To maximise deductions while ensuring compliance with tax laws, consulting with a tax professional or accountant specialising in ecommerce tax matters is recommended.

Utilising International Tax Planning

Engaging in international tax planning is essential for non-resident ecommerce businesses looking to optimise their tax position.

This involves carefully analysing the tax laws and regulations of different jurisdictions, seeking expert advice from tax professionals with international tax expertise, and structuring operations in a manner that minimises tax exposure.

By incorporating international tax planning strategies, businesses can effectively reduce their tax liabilities while remaining compliant with relevant laws and regulations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is tax avoidance legal in the US?

Tax avoidance, which refers to legally minimising tax liabilities through strategic planning and adherence to tax laws, is generally permissible in the United States.

However, engaging in aggressive or fraudulent practices to evade taxes is illegal.
It’s important to distinguish between lawful tax avoidance and illegal tax evasion, which can lead to severe penalties and legal consequences.

How can I get more tax refunds in the USA?

To potentially increase your tax refund in the United States, consider the following strategies:
Ensure accurate reporting of all eligible deductions and credits
Maximise contributions to retirement accounts
Take advantage of tax-advantaged savings plans
Explore potential tax credits and deductions specific to your circumstances, and;
Consult with a tax advisor for personalised guidance.

What factors determine tax nexus for a business?

The determination of tax nexus for a business depends on various factors, including physical presence, sales volume, economic activity, and the specific tax laws of the jurisdiction in question.

Assess these factors to understand whether the business has established the necessary connection to trigger tax obligations in a particular jurisdiction.


Understanding tax nexus, complying with sales tax requirements, and implementing effective strategies are vital steps to eliminate or at least minimise tax obligations for non-resident ecommerce businesses. Stay compliant and informed about tax regulations for ultimate success.

Check out Sterlinx Global for further business and tax advice.

Related posts:

Top 10 Things to Know about Sales Tax in the USA for Amazon Sellers

Sole Proprietor, USA LLC, or UK Ltd Company for Amazon Sellers? Complete Guide and Top Reasons Why

Accounting for E-Commerce: Why It Should Be the Least of Your Worries

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