County Sales and Use Tax

  1. What is the county sales and use tax?
  2. What is the tax rate?
  3. When must a retailer report county tax?
  4. How do I report the county sales and use tax?
  5. No county tax was paid at the time of purchase. Do I owe tax if I use the item purchased in another county?
  6. What is included in the monthly distribution payment made to counties?
  7. Can we review the transactions that make up a month's distribution?
  8. Why do distributions vary so much from month to month?
  9. Are sales and use taxes by municipality available?
  10. Is a county liable for paying sales tax on its sales?
  11. Is a Wisconsin county liable for paying sales tax on its purchases?

  1. What is the county sales and use tax?

    The county sales tax rate of 0.5% is imposed on retailers making taxable retail sales, licenses, leases, or rentals or providing taxable services in a Wisconsin county that has adopted the county tax.

    The county use tax rate of 0.5% is imposed on purchasers of items used, stored, or consumed in counties that impose county tax. County use tax must be paid when Wisconsin county sales tax is not charged and no exemption applies.

    For further information see What is Taxable or Use Tax.

  2. What is the tax rate?

    Sixty-two Wisconsin counties have adopted a 0.5% county tax. To see which counties adopted the county tax, see the State, County, and Stadium Tax Rate Chart. Depending on where the sale/purchase occurs and the type of seller, possible tax rates include:

    Caution: Retailers who are not located in a county with a county tax and who have or are required to have a Wisconsin seller's permit or use tax registration certificate, are subject to the county tax and are required to collect and remit it, in certain situations. See Question 3 for examples.

    To determine which county's sales and use tax applies to a particular transaction, click here.

  3. When must a retailer report county tax?

    Retailers who have, or are required to have, a Wisconsin seller's permit or use tax certificate must collect and remit county sales tax if they:

    • ship taxable items, using a third party shipper, to an address in a county that has a county sales and use tax,
    • deliver taxable items with their own vehicle into a county that has a county sales and use tax,
    • furnish taxable services in a county that has a county sales or use tax, or
    • otherwise make taxable sales or provide taxable services in a county that has a county sales or use tax
    • sell a motor vehicle, boat, recreational vehicle or aircraft that will be customarily kept in a county that has adopted the county tax.

    To determine which county's sales and use tax applies to a particular transaction, click here.

  4. How do I report the county sales and use tax?

    Electronic filing and payment options include:

    • My Tax Account – The department's online filing and payment system for businesses.
    • Sales Telefile – File and pay your sales tax with any touch-tone telephone. Call (608) 261-5340 or (414) 227-3895.
    • eFile Transmission – Generally used by programmers.
  5. No county tax was paid at the time of purchase. Do I owe tax if I use the item purchased in another county?

    Generally, if an item is purchased in a county that has not adopted the county tax and is later brought to a taxable county where it is used, stored, or consumed, the purchase is not subject to the county use tax.

    Exceptions: Construction materials, titled items and certain purchases by nonresidents:

    • Construction materials purchased in a county that has not adopted the county tax and later used to improve real property in a county that has adopted the county tax, are subject to county use tax. For more information, see Wisconsin Tax Bulletin #157 or Publication 207, Sales and Use Tax Informaton for Contractors.
    • Purchases of motor vehicles, boats, recreational vehicles as defined in s. 340.01(48r), Wis. Stats., and aircraft. These items are taxed, for county and stadium sales tax purposes, based on the county in which the item is customarily kept.
    • Purchases of snowmobiles, trailers, semi-trailers, and all-terrain vehicles. These items are taxed, for county and stadium sales tax purposes, based on where the buyer receives possession of the items.
    • Sales of motor vehicles, recreational vehicles as defined in s. 340.01(48r), Wis. Stats., aircraft, and truck bodies (including semitrailers) to nonresidents who do not use the property other than to remove it from Wisconsin, are exempt from Wisconsin county and stadium sales and use taxes.
    • Sales of boats, recreational vehicles, snowmobiles, trailers and all-terrain vehicles to nonresidents are subject to Wisconsin sales and use tax.

    For more information, see Reporting Sales Tax on Sales of Motor Vehicles, Boats, Snowmobiles, Recreational Vehicles, Trailers, Semitrailers, All-Terrain Vehicles, and Aircraft.

  6. What is included in the monthly distribution payment made to counties?

    The monthly distribution is the sum of all completed transactions posted in our processing system from the 16th of one month to the 15th of the next month. For example, the sales tax on a transaction in December should be reported on a sales tax return due by January 20 or 31. If the return is processed by February 15, the tax would be included in the February distribution to the county.

    Each transaction can be traced to a specific return or action relating to a retailer's (or individual's) sales and use tax account. Transactions are triggered by processing sales & use tax returns (Forms ST-12 and UT-5), motor vehicle, boat, ATV and snowmobile private registrations, refunds and audits. Entries of county use taxes from individual income tax returns are posted as these returns process throughout the year.

  7. Can we review the transactions that make up a month's distribution?

    This information is confidential but available. The Department of Revenue provides detail listings upon request. A County staff member who is authorized by their employer can sign a non-disclosure statement with the Department to be allowed access to the detailed information. The detail consists of a listing of all transactions that processed within the distribution period back to the original record that initiated the transaction in our system. To request access to this information, contact Becky Haines at (608) 261-5282, or by email at Rebecca.Haines@revenue.wi.gov.

  8. Why do distributions vary so much from month to month?

    The underlying economic activity on which sales and use taxes are based varies by month and season but, in addition, the timing of payments and the processing of returns affects monthly distributions. Some retailers remit tax on a monthly basis, others remit tax on a quarterly or annual basis.

    Each month's distribution is typically based on the returns processed from the 16th of one month to the 15th of the next. If a return that is due on the 20th is filed and processed on the 15th or before, one month's distribution may include two remittances from that taxpayer and the next month's distribution would include none. In addition, taxes are not distributed until any errors in the return have been corrected; contacting and verifying information with a taxpayer may be time-consuming and delay the distribution of those taxes.

  9. Are sales and use taxes by municipality available?

    No. Since municipalities do not impose local sales and use taxes, taxpayers are not required to provide information by municipality. Calculating taxes remitted from select ZIP codes does not produce accurate information because ZIP codes are not contiguous with municipal boundaries. In addition, chain stores may file a single return from the ZIP code of the company's headquarters or accounting office rather than the location at which the sales took place.

  10. Is a county liable for paying sales tax on its sales?

    Generally, a county is liable for the collection, reporting, and payment of sales tax on its sales of tangible personal property and taxable services. Examples of taxable sales made by counties include the following:

    • Clothing, such as T-shirts, sweatshirts, pants, jackets, hats and employee uniforms
    • Recreational equipment and supplies
    • Admissions to facilities if the activity being conducted at the facility is amusement, athletic, entertainment or recreational in nature
    • Portable stages, portable basketball floors, portable public address systems, chairs, tables, stage risers, pianos, forklift trucks, music racks, spotlights, and projectors that are optional in connection with the rental of a facility
    • Office equipment and furniture
    • Computers and prewritten computer software
    • Sales and delivery of trees, shrubs, or gravel to private purchasers
    • Electricity, natural gas, and steam. (Exception: Sales of electricity and gas for residential use during the months of November through April and electricity and fuel for farm use are exempt from tax.)
    • Landscaping and lawn maintenance services, including weed cutting.

    Examples of nontaxable sales by counties include:

    • Notary public fees, library fines, and fees for licenses and permits
    • Snow removal and snowplowing
    • Special assessments and fees for garbage removal. (Note: Separate sales of bags or receptacles for garbage or trash are taxable.)
    • Storage fees (except for storage of boats)
    • Locker rentals, including coin-operated units
    • Parking tickets
    • Charges for lessons

    If a county makes taxable retail sales or provides taxable services in Wisconsin and does not qualify for the occasional sale exemption (see Publication 206, Sales Tax Exemptions for Nonprofit Organizations), the county is required to have a seller's permit. To apply for a seller's permit:

    • Complete the online application (allow 2 business days for processing ), or
    • Complete Form BTR-101 (allow 15 business days for processing).
  11. Is a Wisconsin county liable for paying sales tax on its purchases?

    No. Purchases by Wisconsin counties are exempt from Wisconsin sales and use taxes. To claim the exemption, the county must give the seller one of the following:

    • A completed purchase order or similar document clearly identifying the county as the purchaser,
    • A properly completed sales and use tax exemption certificate (Form S-211 or S-211-SST), or
    • Its Certificate of Exempt Status (CES) number.

    A county may apply for a Certificate of Exempt Status number using Form S-103, available at revenue.wi.gov/forms/sales/s-103.pdf

    See Publication 209, Sales and Use Tax Information for Wisconsin Counties and Municipalities, for additional information.

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
Customer Service Bureau
Mail Stop 5-77
PO Box 8949
Madison, WI 53708-8949
Phone: (608) 266-2776
Fax: (608) 267-1030
Email: DORSalesandUse@revenue.wi.gov

Page last updated January 22, 2014