What is county sales and use tax?
sales tax is imposed on retailers making taxable retail sales, licenses, leases, or rentals or providing taxable services in a Wisconsin county that has adopted the 0.5% county tax. Beginning January 1, 2024, Milwaukee County's 0.5% tax increases to 0.9%.
County use tax is imposed on purchasers of items used, stored, or consumed in counties that impose the 0.5% or 0.9% county tax. County
use tax must be paid when Wisconsin county sales tax is not charged and no exemption applies.
For more information see
What is Taxable or
What is city sales and use tax?
Beginning January 1, 2024, city sales tax is imposed on retailers making taxable retail sales, licenses, leases, or rentals or providing taxable services to locations in the city of Milwaukee.
Beginning January 1, 2024, city use tax is imposed on purchases of items used, stored, or consumed in the city of Milwaukee. City use tax must be paid when Milwaukee city sales tax is not charged, and no exemption applies.
What is the tax rate?
Sixty-eight Wisconsin counties have adopted a 0.5% county tax. Beginning January 1, 2024, Milwaukee County's 0.5% tax increases to 0.9%. To see which counties adopted the county tax, see the State and County Sales Tax Rate Chart.
Beginning January 1, 2024, the city of Milwaukee is the only city that imposes a city sales and use tax in Wisconsin.
Depending on where the sale/purchase occurs and the type of seller, possible tax rates include:
- State sales and use tax (5%)
- County sales and use tax (0.5% or 0.9%)
- City of Milwaukee sales and use tax (2%) - Effective January 1, 2024
- Local Exposition Taxes
- Basic room tax (3%)
- Additional room tax (7% - City of Milwaukee only)
- Food and beverage tax (0.5%)
- Rental car tax (3%)
- Premier resort area tax (0.5% or 1.25%)
Important: Retailers who have or are required to have a Wisconsin seller's permit or use tax registration certificate, are required to collect and remit county and city tax, in certain situations. See Answer 4 for examples.
When must a retailer report county and/or city tax?
Retailers who have, or are required to have, a Wisconsin seller's permit or use tax certificate must collect and remit county and/or city sales tax if they do any of the following:
- Ship taxable items, using a third-party shipper, to an address in a county that has a county sales and use tax or a city that has a city sales and use tax
- Deliver taxable items with their own vehicle into a county that has a county sales and use tax or a city that has a city sales and use tax
- Furnish taxable services in a county that has a county sales or use tax or a city that has a city sales and use tax
- Otherwise make taxable sales or provide taxable services in a county that has a county sales or use tax or a city that has a city sales and 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 or a city that has adopted the city tax
To determine which sales and use tax rates apply to a particular transaction, click
How do I report the county and city sales and use tax?
Electronic filing and payment options for the sales tax return 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 by calling (608) 261-5340 or (414) 227-3895
e-file Transmission - Filers transmit return data to DOR via an electronic file over the internet
No county or city tax was paid at the time of purchase. Do I owe tax if I use the item purchased in another county or city?
Generally, if an item is purchased in a county that has not adopted the county tax or a city that has not adopted the city tax, and the item is later brought to a taxable county or city where it is used, stored, or consumed, the purchase is not subject to the county or city 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
Sales and Use Tax Information for Contractors.
- Construction materials purchased in a city that has not adopted the city tax that are later used to improve real property in a city that has adopted the city tax are subject to the city use tax unless an exemption applies.
Purchases of motor vehicles, boats, recreational vehicles as defined in s. 340.01(48r), Wis. Stats., and aircraft are taxed, for county and city sales tax purposes, based on the county and city in which the item is
Purchases of snowmobiles, trailers, semi-trailers, all-terrain vehicles, utility terrain vehicles, and off-highway motorcycles are taxed, for county and city sales tax purposes, based on where the buyer receives possession of the item.
If the buyer takes possession in a county and/or city that does not impose tax, the buyer owes use tax if the buyer later stores, uses or otherwise consumes the snowmobile, trailer, semitrailer, limited use off-highway motorcycle, as defined in sec. 23.335(1)(o), Wis. Stats., all-terrain vehicle, or utility terrain vehicle in a county and/or city that adopted county and/or city tax.
Sales of motor vehicles, boats, 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 city sales and use taxes.
Sales of boats, recreational vehicles, snowmobiles, trailers, all-terrain vehicles, utility terrain vehicles, utility terrain vehicles, and off-highway motorcycles to nonresidents are subject to Wisconsin 5% state sales and use tax. See exception above for certain boats and recreational vehicles.
For more information, see Fact Sheet 2113, Sales and Use Tax on Sales of Used Motor Vehicles, Boats, Snowmobiles, RVs, Trailers, Semitrailers, ATVs, UTVs, Off-Highway Motorcycles, and Aircraft.
What is included in the monthly distribution payment made to the counties and city?
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 is 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 and use tax returns (Forms ST-12 and UT-5), motor vehicle, boat, ATV, utility terrain vehicle, off-highway motorcycle, and snowmobile private registrations, refunds and audits. Entries of county and city use taxes from individual income tax returns are posted as these returns process throughout the year.
Can we review the transactions that make up a month's distribution?
This information is confidential but available to persons authorized under sec.
77.61(5)(b), Wis. Stats. A county staff member who is authorized by their employer may sign a nondisclosure statement with the department for access to the detailed county information. A city staff member who is authorized by their employer may sign a nondisclosure statement with the department for access to the detailed city information.
County information consists of a listing of all county tax transactions processed within the distribution period. City information consists of a listing of all city tax transactions processed within the distribution period. To request access to this information, contact Becky Haines at (608) 261-5282, or by email at Rebecca.Haines@wisconsin.gov.
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. 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 returns processed from the 16th of one month to the 15th of the next. If a return 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 delay the distribution of those taxes.
Are sales and use taxes by municipality available?
Amounts distributed to the city of Milwaukee will be available on our Reports page. The city of Milwaukee is the only municipality that imposes a city sales and use in Wisconsin.
Is a county or city liable for paying sales tax on its sales?
Generally, a county or city 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 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)
- Landscaping and lawn maintenance services, including weed cutting
- Parking (including parking meters) or providing parking for motor vehicles and aircraft
Examples of nontaxable sales 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 or city makes taxable retail sales or provides taxable services in Wisconsin
and does not qualify for the occasional sale exemption (see
Sales Tax Exemptions for Nonprofit Organizations), the county or city is required to have a seller's permit. To apply for a seller's permit:
Is a Wisconsin county or city liable for paying sales tax on its purchases?
No. Purchases by Wisconsin counties and cities are exempt from Wisconsin sales and use taxes. To claim the exemption, the county or city must give the seller one of the following:
- A completed purchase order or similar document clearly identifying the county or city as the purchaser,
- A properly completed sales and use tax exemption certificate (Form S-211,
- The county or city's Certificate of Exempt Status (CES) number.
A county or city does not need a CES number to make purchases exempt from tax. However, they may apply for a CES using
Form S-103. See
Sales and Use Tax Information for Wisconsin Counties and Municipalities, for additional information.