Wisconsin at 65,500 square miles is the 23rd largest state in the U.S. and the 20th most populous with 5.8 million residents. The capital of Wisconsin is Madison, and the largest city is Milwaukee, which is located on the shore of Lake Michigan. Wisconsin’s oldest city is Green Bay. The state’s constitution, adopted in 1848, is the oldest west of the Allegheny Mountains and the Republican Party was founded in Wisconsin in 1854.
Wisconsin is "America's Dairyland" because it is a leading dairy production state, cheese is probably the most infamous dairy product which is why people in Wisconsin are also known as ‘Cheeseheads.’ Milwaukee is also a major producer of beer as well as home to many commercial food processors including Oscar Mayer, Johnsonville brats, and Kraft foods.
Wisconsin is home to a diversified manufacturing economy including companies like John Deere, Briggs & Stratton, Kohler Company, Mercury Marine, Caterpillar, Evinrude Outdoors, Harley-Davidson, Johnson Controls, Rockwell Automation, Pierce Fire Apparatus, Ashley Furniture and many others. Wisconsin lays claim to some fairly unique “Capital of the World” titled cities: Green Bay = Toilet Paper, Sheboygan = Bratwurst, Sturgeon Bay = Shipbuilding, Eagle River = Snowmobile, Mercer = Loon, Monroe = Swiss Cheese, Boscobeel = Turkey, Somerset = Inner Tubing, Bloomer = Jump Rope, Potosi = Catfish, Belleville = Unidentified Flying Object, Wasau = Ginseng, and Mount Horeb = Troll (that is one long list of notoriety.)
Famous Badger State people include magician Harry Houdini, General Douglas MacArthur, architect Franklin Lloyd Wright, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, actor Don Ameche and the original Barbie (inspiration for the doll), Barbie Millicent Roberts.
Tourism and recreation are major industries in Wisconsin – Tourist destinations such as the Circus World Museum and The Dells of the Wisconsin River draw thousands of visitors annually, and festivals such as the Oshkosh Airshow draw international attention, along with hundreds of thousands of visitors. Wisconsin has 7,446 streams and rivers, if placed end to end, they would stretch 26,767 miles – enough to circle the globe. The state also has 15,210 miles of snowmobile trails and groomed snow highways. The Green Bay Packers are one of the most successful professional football franchises and have won multiple championships.
The aptly named, House on the Rock near Spring Green, was built on a 60-foot chimney of rock and is considered an architectural marvel. It was designed in the 1940s and the 14-room house and gardens covers more than 200 acres. The Infinity Room in the house has 3,264 windows. Milwaukee’s Summerfest is the U.S.’s largest musical festival with 2,500 performers; The American Birkebeiner is the largest cross-country ski race in North America and Noah’s Ark in Wisconsin Dells is the nation’s largest water-themed park.
About Sales Taxes and this series:
Thanks to Avalara, the 'tax people', this article is one in a 50 part series covering sales tax issues associated with each and every state tax jurisdiction in the United States. We’re publishing "Sales Tax Tuesday" every week through 2015.
Sales tax provides critical revenue for states. Other than property and income tax, sales tax is the largest source of tax revenue in the majority of the 46 states that collect it. From a government perspective, making sure every sales tax dollar is collected, through audits, fines, penalties rates and rules, is an exercise for income. It’s easy to be lured into a false sense of compliance when it comes to sales tax, this series is intended to insure that you are aware of the key sales tax facts for YOUR state.
Note: For sales tax definitions and essentials check out the opening article to this series.
Sales Tax Facts1:
- Winsconsin’s state sales tax rate is 5% but can be as high as 5.6% with county and local taxes.
- The Wisconsin Department of Revenue is responsible for Sales and Use tax administration, for more information see their guide.
- Wisconsin imposes sales tax on the sale of tangible personal property and to some extent on digital goods and certain services.
- In general, sales of food and food ingredients are not taxable, however, sales of the following food and food ingredients are taxable: candy, soft drinks, dietary supplements, and prepared foods. Prepared food includes two or more food ingredients mixed or combined by a retailer for sale as a single item. (For example, sales of take and bake pizzas made by a retailer are subject to Wisconsin sales tax because the pizzas are prepared food.)
- Wisconsin is a destination sourcing states. This means that sales tax is based on the location of the buyer. Wisconsin is a member of Streamlined Sales Tax (SST)
- Wisconsin is one of seven states that taxes Internet access. The rate depends on the type of service.
- Amazon opened a new fulfillment center in Wisconsin in June 2015. This could impact FBA sellers in terms of sales tax nexus – an obligation to collect sales tax even without a physical presence in the state.
- Winter-time services are a diversity of taxability. Snow removal is tax-exempt in Wisconsin, but hanging Christmas lights is a taxable service.
Did you know?
- Time to come clean. Messy doesn’t pay in Wisconsin. Hire a cleaning company to do non-routine or specialized cleaning such as shampooing carpets or washing windows, or hire them on an infrequent basis for regular cleaning, and you’ll have to pay sales tax on this service. But clean up your act on a regular basis and you’re good. Businesses and individuals that hire cleaners on a routine basis (weekly, monthly) don’t have to pay sales tax on this service.
- That takes the cake. Before Wisconsin became a member of SSUTA, you only had to pay sales tax if you wanted to have your ice cream cake and eat it too—in the store or ice cream shop. Now the law states that if a retailer mixes ice cream and at least one other food item together (i.e. cake), it becomes “prepared food” and is taxed—regardless of where it’s consumed. However, if the ice cream cake was premade (not by the retailer), it is not taxable unless (here’s the messy part) it comes with utensils and napkins, in which case it is again consider a prepared food and subject to sales tax.
Manual sales and use tax management, no matter what the particulars or persuasions, is prone to error and consumes valuable time in pass-through rather than revenue-generating activities. No matter how many cities, counties or sales tax jurisdictions you collect and remit tax for, Avalara provides solutions for sales tax automation, including tax calculation, exemption certificate management, returns processing and 1099 filing and reporting.
So whether you have a hard time figuring if you are providing a taxable service, or are selling prepared foods, you won't have a worry when it comes to compliance because automation of your business sales tax, including integration with QuickBooks via Avalara, will insure that your business is fully sales tax compliant without sacrificing your operation's productivity.
1 - State by State Sales Tax - Wisconsin, Avalara – July 2, 2015