Michigan Sales Tax Guide
Chapter 5: Filing and paying Michigan sales tax
You're registered with the Michigan Department of Treasury and you've begun collecting sales tax. Congratulations! Remember, those tax dollars don't belong to you. As an agent of the state of Michigan, your role is that of intermediary transferring tax dollars from consumers to state and local tax authorities. Let's take a deeper look at how filing Michigan sales tax returns impacts your business.What does it mean to file an Michigan sales tax return?
Technically speaking, filing Michigan sales tax returns is a two-step process comprised of submitting the required sales data and remitting the collected tax dollars (if any) to state and local tax authorities.
In most states, there are a number of options for submitting sales tax data to the state. Business owners may complete a Michigan sales tax filing form and mail it to the Michigan Department of Treasury or they can file electronically online. In all states, filing online is recommended.
The filing process forces the business owner to detail their total sales, the amount of sales tax they have collected, and from where. The Michigan Department of Treasury wants to be kept up to date on your business growth (or lack thereof) to make sure they are getting the tax dollars due. By completing ongoing filing of monthly, quarterly, or semi-annual, or annual Michigan sales tax returns, they stay abreast of your growing company.When am I required to file my sales tax return?
The Michigan Department of Treasury will assign you a filing frequency. Typically, this is determined by the size of your business. State governments typically ask larger businesses to file more frequently. Visit our Michigan filing due dates page for more information.Am I required to file and pay my Michigan sales tax at the same time?
Michigan sales tax returns must be filed and paid at the same time and are governed by the same due date.I want to webfile my Michigan sales tax. What are my options?
Avalara has built the TrustFile product to allow business owners a quick and easy way to prepare and webfile Michigan sales tax returns. Users can sign up and use the service to prepare Michigan returns free for 30-days.
Filers may also file directly with the Michigan Department of Treasury by visiting their site and entering your transaction data manually. This is a free service, but preparing Michigan sales tax (breaking it down by jurisdiction) can be time consuming - especially for larger sellers.Can a 3rd party file my sales tax on my behalf?
Yes! Many business owners recognize they are not a tax professional and therefore, choose to outsource their sales tax sales and use tax filing to services like Avalara TrustFile or to an accountant or bookkeeper. This is a normal business practice that can save business owners time and help them avoid costly mistakes due to inexperience and a lack of deep knowledge about Michigan sales tax code.What happens if I file or pay my sales tax return late?
Failing to file or remit collected sales tax to the Michigan Department of Treasury will result in a penalty of 5% of the total unpaid tax due for the first two months. After two months, the 5% interest penalty is applied each month with the maximum late penalty being capped at 25% of the unpaid tax owed.Do I need to file a return if I didn't collect any sales tax in Michigan?
Yes! Once you've successfully registered for and been issued a Sales Tax License, you are required to file at the completion of each assigned collection period regardless of whether any sales tax was collected. This is what is known as a "zero-tax filing".
Failure to submit a required zero-tax filing can result in penalties imposed on your business by the Michigan Department of Treasury so don't take this responsibility lightly.If I close my business, do I need to file a final sales tax return?
Yes! The Michigan Department of Treasury requires all businesses to "close their books" by filing a final sales tax return. This also holds true for business owners selling or otherwise transferring ownership of their business.Does the Michigan Department of Treasury offer a discount for filing on time?
Vendor discounts are rebates offered to tax filers by state tax jurisdictions to compensate filers for the effort involved with collecting, filing, and remitting sales tax in a timely manner. Such discounts are frequently cited as outdated by those who see them as a tax loophole for big businesses. With online buying and SaaS services like Avalara TrustFile, the days of managing receipts, balancing books, and writing checks to the state have long since been replaced by computer automation.
The Michigan Department of Treasury currently offers a vendor discount (also known as a dealer collection allowance) of 0.5% with a maximum of $15,000 per month and a minimum of $6 per month.