Sales Taxes Attorneys in Winston-Salem & Greensboro

Legal advice on sales and use tax concerns in the Piedmont Triad

As a successful entrepreneur, worrying about filing your taxes and returns should not be your biggest business concern. However, when you fail to address tax issues properly and in a timely manner, it is not a matter of if the Internal Revenue Service comes to visit – it is a matter of when.

Consulting with experienced tax attorneys before you need help is the best way to avoid IRS involvement. However, the same attorneys can also step in when you do need help with your tax concerns. At Hartsoe & Associates, P.C., we have been assisting clients and business owners with a wide range of tax challenges for more than 25 years. Whether your issue is state or federal, we can help.


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What is sales tax? What is use tax?

Business owners selling goods and services in North Carolina also act as an agent of the state, by collecting taxes from their purchasers and then passing them along to the North Carolina Department of Revenue (NCDOR).

  • Sales tax is the tax placed on retail sales, leases, and rentals of most goods and services.
  • Use tax is the sales tax placed on purchases made outside that individual’s state of residence for items that will be used, consumed, or stored within his/her state of residence.

These taxes belong to the state, not the business owner, and it is the business owner’s responsibility to manage and pay those taxes in compliance with the law. A business cannot collect sales tax without a permit, which is on the NCDOR website.

When is a business required to collect NC sales tax?

Here in North Carolina, sales tax is applied to tangible goods and certain services. The seller or business collects the tax and then remits it to the NCDOR. You can determine whether or not you need to collect sales tax on your items or services by answering three basic questions.

The first question is, do you have nexus in North Carolina? “Nexus” refers to your business connection in the state. Your business likely has nexus in NC if it meets any of the following:

  • A physical presence in the state, including a store, warehouse, office, or representative
  • Affiliates in the state who generate sales or revenue
  • Online ads on a NC-based website that generate leads and new business
  • A significant amount of sales in the state each month (generally 200 transactions or $100,000/year, whichever comes first)

The second question is, are you selling taxable goods and services to residents of North Carolina? And, finally, are your buyers required to pay sales tax?

If you answered yes to all three of these, you must register your business with the NCDOR and follow all applicable tax rules and regulations. The sales tax attorneys at Hartsoe & Associates can help.

Common sales and use tax concerns

Our sales and use tax lawyers also work with businesses to anticipate and analyze liabilities, reducing the risk of tax problems before they occur. We can ensure your business is in compliance with all sales and use tax laws relevant to your goods and services. Typical matters we consult on include:

Sales tax evasion

If your business is accused of sales tax evasion, our attorneys can help. Here in North Carolina, any individual or company that intentionally fails to pay incurred sales and use taxes is considered guilty of tax evasion and can face penalties, including fines and jail. Examples of sales and use tax evasion could be collecting sales tax but failing to report it to tax authorities, or underreporting sales tax to authorities.

Underreporting sales and use tax can happen for any number of reasons, however. The business may have misunderstood confusing sales tax laws, mistakenly charged the wrong sales tax, or simply had poor bookkeeping. Hartsoe & Associates can help your business straighten things out.

Tax audits

You may find yourself in the small percent of businesses selected for a sales tax audit. Perhaps your business was flagged because of discrepancies in your reported sales, you have a cash-based business, or your industry has complex sales tax laws. Regardless of how it happened, you will need a knowledgeable attorney to guide you.

The first thing you should do when notified of an audit is to respond to the notice – then call our sales tax attorneys. We will help you get organized and work with the auditor on your behalf; freeing up your time and resources to keep your business running. Our job is to defend and appeal your case.

Other sales and use tax services our firm provides include:

  • Identifying compliance issues
  • Identifying tax period liability
  • Identifying unclaimed tax refunds
  • Legal counsel for underpayment or undercollection matters
  • Recommending best practices
  • Representation during hearings

Personal liability

The NCDOR takes issues of sales and use tax very seriously. Business owners can be held personally liable if sales taxes are collected but not paid to the state, which is why it is so important to have experienced attorneys on your side. Ensuring the business is in complete compliance when taxes are filed reduces your liability and the liability of the business.

If you have concerns about your company’s handling of sales and use tax, consult with our attorneys today. We can analyze your back tax filings and records for any oversights, and prepare you (if necessary) for an audit.

Proficient sales and use tax attorneys

At Hartsoe & Associates, P.C., our attorneys have decades of experience working with the North Carolina Department of Revenue. Whether your business needs assistance complying with state sales and use tax laws, or if you need representation for collection efforts against you, our law firm can help. We serve clients in Winston-Salem and Greensboro, as well as the Piedmont Triad. To schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney, please call 336-725-1985 or fill out our contact form.