One of the ways I sell my novel is: direct. I bought a bunch of copies from CreateSpace (my Print-On-demand website), which I sell at a discount for cash. These occasional sales are fun, and they give me a chance to write dedications. And of course, they incur the obligation to pay sales tax.
My wife warned me that it was going to be ridiculously hard to arrange this, so for some bizarre reason (death wish, perhaps) I started navigating New Jersey’s complex web forms on June 26, at nearly the end of the quarter. (It would be a stretch to call the NJ Website forms a GUI; I think of them more as a DCFPI ( Developer-Centric Fiendish Puzzle Interface).
After several false starts and longholds on the phone, I was on my way. First, and this amazed me: I needed to be a business, not just some guy, to pay sales tax. (And by the way, NJ appears to require every business to have an email address; this must be the 21st century.) Second, I needed a Federal ID to be a state business. While filling out the state from, I was able to click on a link to get the federal ID. That link threw me deep into useless hyperspace. Fortunately, it was effortless to find the federal webpage to get my federal ID before the state form timed out. Eventually I did everything I needed to get my state ID and request a PIN, but by this time, I felt desperate. My “business” would start on July 1, so how was I to pay sales tax for the second quarter?
Eventually I got my PIN and I tried to pay my tax online. Of course I failed, because I was trying to pay before my business’s start date. Two more phone calls yielded a miracle: In moments, my start date was pushed back to before I had actually sold copies of my book. I filed online, and I’m now a legal guy.
I put a quarterly reminder to file in my calendar. (I will alwaays have to file sales tax even if the amount is ZERO, until I close the business, I guess.)