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USA Tax Obligations of E-commerce Sellers: All You Need to Know

Aug 18, 2023 | USA Accounting

Are you an e-commerce seller losing money due to tax confusion? Discover the ultimate guide to mastering USA tax obligations and boosting your business success! Don’t let taxes overwhelm you any longer—keep reading to learn more!

Comprehensive Guide to USA Tax Obligations of E-commerce Sellers

If you’re an e-commerce seller in the United States, understanding and fulfilling your tax obligations is crucial for the success and legality of your business.

However, managing your tax affairs can be a challenge. But don’t worry; we will break down the complex concepts into easily understandable terms and provide valuable tips to help you manage your USA tax obligations effortlessly.

In this blog, we will delve into the various tax considerations and responsibilities that e-commerce sellers need to be aware of when operating on platforms like Amazon, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Etsy, etc.

USA Tax Obligations: E-commerce Sales Tax

Sales tax is a charge imposed on the sale of goods and services. It is usually calculated as a percentage of the sale price. Conversely, use tax applies to purchases made by consumers from out-of-state sellers who do not collect sales tax.

If you are an online seller, you may have to collect and submit sales tax if you have a physical presence or nexus in a specific state.

Nexus is determined by state laws and court rulings, signifying a connection between your business and the state, which requires the collection and remittance of sales tax.

Nexus rules for online sellers vary from state to state and may depend on factors such as sales volume and transactions conducted within a state.

Some states have even adopted economic nexus rules, which establish nexus based on the total sales amount within the state, regardless of physical presence.

E-commerce Income Tax

E-commerce Income Tax refers to the USA tax obligations and requirements that e-commerce sellers must fulfil on the income they generate from their online business activities.

In the United States, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers e-commerce sellers as self-employed individuals, which means they are responsible for reporting and paying taxes on their earnings.

For e-commerce sellers, income tax becomes a crucial aspect of their USA tax obligations. Here are some key points to understand:

Self-Employment Tax

E-commerce sellers are responsible for paying the full self-employment tax, which encompasses both the employer and employee portions of Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Estimated Tax Payments

E-commerce sellers may need to make quarterly estimated tax payments if their expected tax owed for the year exceeds $1,000 to avoid underpayment penalties.

Reporting Income

E-commerce sellers must accurately report their income on their tax returns, including earnings from different e-commerce platforms. All income, regardless of whether a 1099-K is received (more of this later), must be reported.

Deductions and Expenses

E-commerce sellers can claim deductions for business expenses related to their online business, such as inventory, shipping, advertising, and website maintenance. Keeping detailed records and documentation is essential for supporting these deductions.

State and Local Taxes

E-commerce sellers may have state and local tax obligations in addition to federal income tax. Understanding and complying with the tax laws of the states where they have nexus or conduct business is essential.

Form 1099 and Reporting Online Sales

As an online business owner, you can reach customers across the country and beyond. However, regardless of the platform you use to sell your products and services, one thing remains constant: taxes.

While self-employment taxes for e-commerce sellers can be more intricate than those for traditional employees, you can simplify the process with the right tools and resources.

By maintaining accurate records and investing effort into the process, you can confidently handle the tax-related aspects of your business and enjoy the rewards of your hard work.

If you sell on Facebook or eBay and meet specific gross sales and transaction thresholds, you will receive Form 1099-K. This form should be used to report the gross sales amount stated on it, along with any other income received from your e-commerce business.

The IRS mandates that you receive Form 1099-K if:

  • Your gross merchandise sales reach at least $20,000.
  • You have more than 200 transactions.

If you meet these thresholds on multiple platforms, you will receive a separate Form 1099-K from each. It’s important to report the gross sales amount from each form on your tax return, in addition to any other income generated by your business.

It’s worth noting that the IRS recently announced a delay in lowering the general threshold from $20,000 to $600, with the new threshold supposedly taking effect from January 1, 2023.

This delay provides affected taxpayers with additional time before they may start receiving tax forms triggered by the lower reporting threshold, and the “old rule” will continue to apply through December 31, 2023.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do international sellers have to pay US sales tax?

International sellers may pay US sales tax if they have a physical presence in the US or make sales in the country.

Compliance with US sales tax laws is determined by factors such as economic nexus (meeting certain sales thresholds or transaction limits in specific states). Each state may have its regulations regarding sales tax obligations for international sellers.

What items are exempt from sales tax in the US? 

Sales tax exemptions vary by state in the US, but common exempt items include groceries, prescription medications, medical devices, agricultural products, and certain clothing items.

Other exemptions may apply to educational materials, nonprofit organizations, and manufacturing equipment. It’s important to check each state’s specific regulations to determine the full scope of sales tax exemptions.

Where is no sales tax in the USA? 

Five states in the US have no state-level sales tax: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon. However, local taxes may still be applicable in some jurisdictions within these states.

To ensure compliance and fully understand the tax implications, it is highly recommended to consult a tax advisor who can provide personalized advice based on your location.


Understanding and fulfilling your USA tax obligations as an e-commerce seller is an essential aspect of the success of your business. By grasping the intricacies of these tax obligations, you can optimize your tax strategy and avoid potential penalties or legal issues.

Check out Sterlinx Global for further business and tax advice based on your specific circumstances and unique needs.

Related posts:

USA Sales Tax for Amazon Sellers UK (Amazon FBA) Explained

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

10 Things No One Tells You About Company Registration in the USA If You Are a Non-Resident

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