Sales and Use Tax

Every state that has a sales tax also has a use tax on the purchase of goods and services as defined by law. State sales taxes apply to purchases made in Maryland while the use tax refers to the tax on goods purchased out of state.

Businesses in Maryland are required to collect Maryland's 6 percent sales tax and or 9 percent alcoholic beverage tax from you whenever you make a taxable purchase.

Every time you purchase taxable tangible goods from businesses outside of Maryland, whether in person, over the phone, or on the Internet, the purchase is subject to Maryland's 6 percent use tax or 9 percent alcoholic beverage tax if you use the merchandise in Maryland. Maryland's use tax protects Maryland businesses from unfair competition. Local businesses would be at a competitive disadvantage if consumers were entitled to a 6 or 9 percent discount on items purchased from out of state businesses.

  • Learn about it! Get Sales and Use Tax Information for consumers, or get all the details in the business section.
  • File it! File a Use Tax Return or to get a credit for sales tax paid in another state.
  • Pay it! Submit your payment along with the return.
  • Get a refund! If you improperly paid sales tax and the merchant won't give you credit. File here.
  • Get help! For additional assistance, review the Frequently Asked Questions about Sales and Use Tax, Frequently Asked Questions about the Sales Tax on Alcoholic Beverages, Frequently Asked Questions about Sales By Parent-Teacher Organizations and Other Organizations or contact us.

Did you know that you can shop tax free in Maryland twice a year? Read about our Shop Maryland Programs for information about each opportunity!

If you will make sales in Maryland, you will need to obtain a sales and use tax license. To obtain one, complete a Combined Registration Application. The application provides a one-stop method for registering a variety of tax accounts, including the sales and use tax license.

Additional Sales and Use Tax Information

For additional information about the specifics of certain types of sales rates, fees and exemptions, visit the following two sections in the sales and use tax section for businesses:

Special Situations

Tax Exemptions

Effective January 3, 2008, the Maryland sales and use tax rate is 6 percent, as follows:
  • 1 cent on each sale where the taxable price is 20 cents.
  • 2 cents if the taxable price is at least 21 cents but less than 34 cents.
  • 3 cents if the taxable price is at least 34 cents but less than 51 cents.
  • 4 cents if the taxable price is at least 51 cents but less that 67 cents.
  • 5 cents if the taxable price is at least 67 cents but less than 84 cents.
  • 6 cents if the taxable price is at least 84 cents.
On each sale where the taxable price exceeds $1.00, the tax is 6 cents on each exact dollar, plus:
  • 1 cent if the excess over an exact dollar is at least 1 cent but less than 17 cents.
  • 2 cents if the excess over an exact dollar is at least 17 cents but less than 34 cents.
  • 3 cents if the excess over an exact dollar is at least 34 cents but less than 51 cents.
  • 4 cents if the excess over an exact dollar is at least 51 cents but less than 67 cents.
  • 5 cents if the excess over an exact dollar is at least 67 cents but less than 84 cents.
  • 6 cents if the excess over an exact dollar is at least 84 cents.

Download our sales and use tax rate chart.

Special rates and situations

An 11.5 percent tax is imposed on short-term passenger car and recreational vehicle rentals. Certain short-term truck rentals are subject to an 8 percent tax.

The 6 percent tax rate is applied to a portion of the sale of new mobile homes and modular buildings, as well as a portion of the gross receipts from vending machine sales.

The 9 percent tax rate is applied to sales of alcoholic beverages. Reference the Alcoholic Beverage Tax Rate Chart-9% for details.

See the Special Situations section for more information.

The following links offer summaries of Maryland tax legislation that was passed during the 2011 session of the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Martin O'Malley. All references are to the Tax-General Article (TG), Annotated Code of Maryland, unless otherwise noted. For information about other tax legislation, visit the Maryland General Assembly's Web site.

Legislative Summaries

Find answers to questions regarding Maryland's sales and use tax with regard to out of state purchases, flea markets, alcoholic beverages and more.

Below you will find frequently asked questions concerning the Sales and Use tax.

Yes. Every time you purchase taxable tangible goods, whether in person, over the phone, or on the Internet, the purchase is subject to Maryland's 6 percent sales and use tax if you use the merchandise in Maryland. If you make a tax-free purchase out of state and need to pay Maryland's 6 percent use tax, you should file the Consumer Use Tax Return.

When you purchase goods from out-of-state businesses, they are not required to collect Maryland's sales and use tax unless they have a physical location, or deliver services, in Maryland. For more information, see Maryland's Sales and Use Tax

No. A store coupon is not included in the taxable price unless the vendor can get reimbursement from another source. Manufacturers' coupons are included in the taxable price since a store can obtain a reimbursement from the manufacturer.

For example, if you had a Mars grocery store coupon that was redeemable only at a Mars store - and not Food Lion, Giant or any other food store - the coupon would not be included in the taxable price. On the other hand, if you had a Welch's Grape Juice coupon that you could use in any store, then that coupon would be included in the taxable price.

No. Energy Star-rated clothes washers, refrigerators and air conditioners sold in Maryland are not exempt from the Maryland sales and use tax.

There is a tax-free three-day weekend during which the state sales tax will not apply to the sale of any Energy Star Product listed below, or solar water heater. The tax-free weekend for 2013 will occur the weekend of February 16, 2013, through February 18, 2013.

Energy Star Product means an air conditioner, clothes washer or dryer, furnace, heat pump, standard size refrigerator, compact fluorescent light bulb, dehumidifier, or programmable thermostat that has been designated as meeting or exceeding the applicable Energy Star Efficiency requirements developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

In general, food sales are subject to Maryland's 6 percent sales and use tax unless a person operating a substantial grocery or market business sells the food for consumption off the premises and the food is not a taxable prepared food. A grocery or market business is considered to be "substantial" if the sales of grocery or market food items total at least 10 percent of all food sales.

For more information, see Sales of Food

No. The Maryland sales and use tax does not apply to the sales of cars or boats since those items are already subject to titling taxes. Sales of motor vehicles are subject to the Maryland motor vehicle titling tax which is administered by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. Boat sales are subject to a boat titling tax which is administered by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. On the other hand, the sales and use tax does apply to car and boat rentals, under different tax rates. An 11.5 percent tax is imposed on short-term passenger car and recreational vehicle rentals. Certain short-term truck rentals are subject to an 8 percent tax.

It depends. Charges for warranties, maintenance, service agreements and insurance are taxable if the buyer is required to purchase them or they are already included in the price of the merchandise. However, if the sale could be completed without paying these charges, then the charges are not taxable.

Private vendors or franchisees selling on military bases, or other United States Government properties, must charge the sales tax on all sales of tangible personal property and taxable services statutorily subject to the tax. The tax must be charged on sales to military and other Government personnel as well as civilians. There is an exemption from the tax for sales made at a vending machine facility operated under the Maryland Vending Program for the Blind that is located on property on military bases.

Sales made by the United States Government, or any of its agencies, on Government property are exempt from the sales and use tax, regardless of whether the purchasers are military and Government personnel or civilians.

For example, sales of food by a fast food vendor on a military base are subject to the tax if the vendor or franchisee is ABC Company. The same sales made on a military base where the vendor or franchisee is the United States Government, or an agency of the Government, are not subject to the tax.

Basically, yes. Maryland does, however, grant a credit for the sales tax paid to another state up to the amount of the Maryland tax. In addition, a 10 percent depreciation allowance may be taken for each full year the property is used by the purchaser before being brought to Maryland.

Maryland grants a credit for sales tax paid to another state up to the amount of Maryland's six (6%) percent sales and use tax liability.

For example, if you paid a four (4%) percent sales tax to another state, you would be liable only for the difference, or two (2%) percent Maryland sales and use tax when you brought the property into Maryland. If you paid a six (6) or higher percent sales tax to another state, you would not be liable for Maryland sales and use tax when you brought the property into Maryland.

Yes. However, you may claim a ten (10%) percent depreciation allowance for each full year you used the property before you brought it to Maryland. Only the depreciated value is subject to tax.

The tax applies only to the cost of materials and purchased fabrication services, not to the full market value of the goods. The value of your labor is not taxed.

Yes. Maryland law requires that vendors display their licenses at any location where sales are made. This will save you valuable selling time because representatives of the Comptroller's Office do not have to ask for your registration number.

The tax is on the transaction or sale and not on the property sold. The same item will generate tax each time it is sold unless it is specifically sold for resale.

Yes. Nonprofit organizations must collect tax on merchandise they sell, even if the goods are donated to them. Private individuals must also collect tax even if they plan to donate the proceeds to a nonprofit organization. Private individuals are not eligible for a sales and use tax exemption certificate. Sales by religious organizations and sales of food by volunteer fire companies and veterans' organizations are exempt.

Always collect tax on sales to other dealers unless they present you with a resale certificate bearing their Maryland sales tax registration number. However, out-of-state dealers who are not required to collect the Maryland tax may use their out-of-state sales tax registration number on a resale certificate to purchase antiques and used collectibles. Dealers from states that do not impose a sales tax may provide a valid trader's license or comparable document. Resale certificates are not valid for cash, check or credit card sales of less than $200 unless the product is delivered to the customer's place of business.

Yes. Effective January 3, 2008, a vendor may assume and absorb all or any part of the sales and use tax on a retail sale and pay that tax on behalf of the buyer. The vendor must, however, continue to separately state the tax from the sales price at the time of sale to the purchaser. If the vendor absorbs all or any part of the tax on the sale, the vendor shall pay the tax with the return that covers the period in which the vendor makes the sale.

Yes. However, when calculating if a business meets the 10 percent threshold for a substantial grocery or market business, you may not include sales of single servings, heated or prepared food or sales to be consumed on the premises.

Yes. A caterer serving food at a customer's premises must collect the tax on the food sold. A caterer must collect the tax in this situation even if the caterer also conducts a substantial grocery or market business.

Yes. Sales of food to patients in a hospital when the food charges are included in the regular room rate are exempt. Sales of food and beverages on vehicles operating in interstate commerce are exempt. In addition, the tax does not apply to a sale of crabs for consumption off the premises where sold. Sales of seafood to be consumed off the premises where sold are also exempt if the seafood is not prepared for immediate consumption.

No. For sales and use tax purposes, soft drinks, bottled water, alcoholic beverages, candy and confectionery are not "food." The sale of any of these items is, therefore, not entitled to any of the exemptions for sales of food, including the exemptions for sales of food by volunteer fire companies and veterans organizations. Neither water nor ice is food, although they may be treated as food when sold as components of food.

The tax does not apply to eligible food purchased with federal food stamps. Food stamp eligible food encompasses everything that is considered food for sales and use tax purposes, plus soft drinks, candy, confectionery, water, ice and otherwise taxable and prepared foods.

If a customer purchases both taxable and nontaxable food stamp eligible food with a combination of food stamps and cash, credit card or debit card, the vendor must apply the food stamps to the eligible taxable items first, and then any remaining food stamps to the eligible nontaxable items. After application of the food stamps, the balance of the eligible taxable items paid for with cash, credit card, or debit card is subject to tax.

Unlike sales of other types of tangible personal property and taxable services that are taxed at a 6% rate, the sales and use tax is imposed at a 9% rate on the taxable price of alcoholic beverages. The 9% rate on sales of alcoholic beverages replaces the 6% rate and is not in addition to that rate.

The 9% rate is effective for sales on and after July 1, 2011.

Licensed retailers can apply for a special Retail Off-Site Permit from the Comptroller's Office to sell wine produced by a Class 4 limited winery at a Farmer's Market listed with the Maryland Department of Agriculture. The permit must be issued to a licensed retailer authorized to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption off-premises, and whose license was issued by the local licensing board in the jurisdiction in which the Farmer's Market will be held.

Yes, retail receipts should be kept for two years or until audited. See Alcoholic Beverages Article 1-408.

State regulations do not require Catered Event Certificates to be kept for a certain length of time. A revolving calendar year should suffice. Check the regulations issued by your county liquor board.

Yes. Catering food requires a license from the county.

Yes. An alcohol catering license is needed if you plan to furnish alcoholic beverages. It is known as a Statewide Caterer (SCAT) License. See COMAR 03.02.01.18.

They are issued by the County Liquor Boards.

This information is available in the Comptroller's alcohol and tobacco tax annual reports.

Yes, you must obtain a $50 Non-Beverage Class C Permit. See Tax General TG 2-101(c).

Yes, a Non-Beverage Class E Permit is required. However, there is no fee.

"Happy hour" is regulated by each county's liquor board.

Price filing is no longer required for any form of alcohol. Brand registration is required for beer only.

A wholesaler pays the tax if the beer is imported from another country. An out-of-state non-resident dealer (a.k.a. supplier) pays the tax if the beer is purchased by a Maryland wholesaler. See Tax General TG 5-102 and TG 5-105.

Beer: A beer manufacturer cannot require participation, but participation by the wholesaler is legal for beer. A manufacturer can charge the wholesaler extra for advertising their product, but they cannot make them pay it. See Alcoholic Beverages Article 5-104.

Wine and Distilled Spirits: These manufacturers cannot charge extra for advertising.

It is a system whereby alcohol is sold from the supplier to the wholesaler, from the wholesaler to the retailer, and from the retailer to the consumer.

The legislature enacts statutes. The Comptroller adopts, amends and repeals regulations under the authority granted by statutes, following the procedures in the Administrative Procedure Act.

Contact the General Accounting Division at 410-260-7813.

Business liability: 410-767-1908
Personal liability: 410-649-0633 (usually an income tax issue)
Personal property tax: Clerk of the Circuit Court (in the respective county)

IRS individual tax questions: 1-800-829-1040
IRS business tax questions: 1-800-829-4933
Web site: www.irs.gov

No. By statute, the 6% sales and use tax is imposed on a bracketed basis. The amount of tax due is determined by the sale price in relation to the statutorily imposed brackets. The amount of tax increases one cent from one bracket to the next with 6 cents due on each exact dollar. The 9% sales and use tax is a flat rate. This means that when the tax calculation results in an amount between two whole pennies, the tax is rounded off. The tax computation must be carried to the third decimal place, and the tax then must be rounded to a whole cent using a method that rounds up to the next cent whenever the third decimal place is greater than four, and rounds down whenever the third decimal place is less than or equal to four. For example, if the taxable price of the alcoholic beverage is $8.24 the tax would be $0.74 ($8.24 times 9% = $0.742). If the taxable price of the alcoholic beverage is $8.29 the tax would be $0.75 ($8.29 times 9% = $0.746).

You must report the tax you charged on sales of alcoholic beverages separately from the tax imposed on sales of other items. Effective July 2011, the sales and use tax return will include separate lines for tax imposed on sales at the 6% rate and tax imposed on sales at the 9% rate. The revised sales and use tax return will also have separate lines for reporting tax on purchases at each rate as well.

No. As of August 1, 2013, EFT ACH is no longer an option for reporting or submitting sales and use tax payments.

Taxpayers required to pay with immediately available funds can pay using direct debit by electronically filing for free via bFile; or can pay using a credit card by going online or by calling 1-800-2PAY-TAX (1-800-272-9829). If you are new to bFile, please verify that your financial institution will accept debit transactions.

The 9% rate applies to sales of alcoholic beverages as defined in Tax-General Article ยง5-101(b). This includes sales of beer, distilled spirits, and wine, as well as any beverage or cocktail that may contain a mixture of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic components, including an alcoholic mixed drink, a frozen alcoholic cocktail, an alcoholic coffee drink, and a gelatin shot containing an alcoholic beverage.

Yes. Only products that are fit for beverage purposes and contain one-half of 1% or more of alcohol by volume are subject to the 9% rate. Other products, such as cooking wine and cooking sherry, as well as vanilla and rum extracts and similar items, are not subject to the 9% tax as they are not intended for beverage purposes. There are many personal care products and cleaning products that contain alcohol as well; however, these items are not included in the definition of alcoholic beverage and therefore are not subject to tax at the 9% rate.

If you buy a mixed drink that contains both alcoholic and non-alcoholic components, the sale of that beverage will be subject to tax at the 9% rate. However, the 9% tax does not apply to the sale of a bottle of grenadine or similar flavoring or mixer on its own that does not contain one-half of 1% or more of alcohol by volume. Those sales are taxed at the 6% rate unless otherwise exempt.

Effect on sales by exempt organizations:
Sales of alcoholic beverages made by specific types of organizations listed in Tax General Article §11-204(b) are also exempt from the 9% tax on alcoholic beverages.

Effect on purchases by exempt organizations:
Maryland sales and use tax exemptions apply to all purchases for use by the exempt organization, regardless of the applicable tax rate. Therefore, your organization's purchases of alcoholic beverages made to carry on the organization's work are exempt from the 9% tax on alcoholic beverages.

* You can access the Maryland Code, including Tax-General Article, online.

The tax must be separately calculated on sales of alcoholic beverages at the 9% rate and on sales of food, non-alcoholic beverages, and other merchandise at the 6% rate. The 9% tax amount must be listed separately from the 6% tax amount on the bill of sale.

For sales made between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012, if your sales include alcoholic beverages as well as other items, you must apportion the charge for the mandatory gratuity between the two categories. For example, if the total charge amounts to $300, and of that amount $200 is for sale of food and non-alcoholic beverages and $100 is for the sale of alcoholic beverages, then 2/3 of the amount of the gratuity is subject to the 6% tax rate and 1/3 is subject to the 9% tax rate. In this example, if the gratuity charged is $45, the 6% rate on the gratuity would be $1.80 (2/3 times $45 times 6% = $1.80) and the 9% rate on the gratuity would be $1.35 (1/3 times $45 times 9% = $1.35). The bill, therefore, would reflect total tax at 6% of $13.80 ($230 at 6%) and total tax at 9% of $10.35 ($115 at 9%).

Due to a 2012 law change, for sales made on and after July 1, 2012, charges for alcoholic beverages are subject to tax at the 9% rate and charges for mandatory gratuities are subject to the 6% rate regardless of whether the gratuities relate to sales of alcoholic beverages or sales of food and non-alcoholic beverages.

In order to be authorized to make direct wine shipments to Maryland residents, the law requires that the vendor be issued a direct wine shippers permit, and also requires that the vendor comply with existing tax laws, including the requirement to collect sales and use tax. Therefore, the vendor will be required to charge sales and use tax at the rate of 9% on sales of wine to Maryland residents. If the vendor imposes a separately stated shipping charge, that amount will not be subject to tax. However, if the shipping charge is not separately stated, or if the shipping charge includes a handling charge, whether that shipping and handling charge is separately stated or not, then the entire amount will be considered to be part of the taxable price of wine, and the 9% tax will apply to the whole charge for sales made prior to July 1, 2012.

For sales made on and after July 1, 2012, the 9% rate will apply to the charge for the wine, and the 6% rate will apply to any other separately stated taxable charge made in connection that the sale of the wine.

Yes. An inbound freight charge is part of taxable price. If the inbound freight charge is imposed on the sale of an alcoholic beverage, then the vendor must collect tax on the price that includes the inbound freight charge, whether separately stated or not.

For separately stated inbound freight charges on sales made prior to July 1, 2012, the 9% rate applies to all charges, and for sales made on and after that date, the 9% rate will apply to the charge for the alcoholic beverage, and the 6% rate will apply to the charge for inbound freight.

You may apportion the sales price between the alcoholic beverages and the other merchandise and charge the 9% sales and use tax on the taxable price of the alcoholic beverages and the 6% sales and use tax on the price of the other items. If the basket includes non-taxable merchandise as well, and you allocate the sales price among the three categories of merchandise (alcoholic beverages, taxable merchandise, non-taxable merchandise), then you may exclude the non-taxable items from the taxable price. However, if you charge a lump-sum price for the gift basket, and you do not apportion the sales price among the categories of items, you must collect the sales and use tax at the higher 9% rate on the entire price of the basket.

For sales made prior to July 1, 2012, itemized charges for equipment, supplies and labor that are directly and predominantly related to the sales of alcoholic beverages should be taxed at the 9% rate. Itemized charges for equipment, supplies and labor that are directly and predominantly related to the sales of food and non-alcoholic beverages should be taxed at the 6% rate.

For sales made on and after July 1, 2012, itemized charges for alcoholic beverages are subject to tax at the 9% rate and all other charges are subject to tax at the 6% rate.

If you do not itemize your bill in the manner discussed in Question 15 and instead elect to bill a lump-sum price for the entire bill or per-person charge, you must charge the higher 9% tax rate on the entire bill.

Alcoholic beverage sales for specific events for which contracts are fully executed prior to July 1, 2011 are subject to the 6% sales and use tax. Alcoholic beverage sales for specific events for which contracts are signed and executed on or after July 1, 2011 are subject to the 9% sales and use tax.

If the contract for the specific event is fully executed before July 1, 2011 and contains all material terms such as price, quantities, selections of food and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), and the names of the parties to the contract, the tax rate on the taxable price of alcoholic beverages is 6%.

If the contract for the specific event is fully executed on or after July 1, 2011, but prior to July 1, 2012, and it contains all material terms, such as price, quantities, selections of food and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), and the names of the parties to the contract, then the tax rate on the taxable price of alcoholic beverages is 9%.

If the contract for the specific event is fully executed on or after July 1, 2012, and contains all material terms such as price, quantities, selections of food and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), and the names of the parties to the contract, then the tax rate on the charge for the alcoholic beverages is 9% and the tax rate on all other charges is 6%.

The tax, whether at the rate of 6% or 9%, must be charged by the caterer at the time the contract is executed. The caterer must then report and pay the tax to the Comptroller by the required due date.

You must apportion your sales price between the taxable price of the alcoholic beverages and the taxable price of the food and non-alcoholic beverages and charge the tax accordingly. If you do not separately state the charges subject to the different rates, you must charge the higher 9% rate on the entire charge to the customer.

The cost of the meal and any other related taxable charges will be taxed at the 6% rate. You must pay the 9% sales and use tax rate on your purchase of any alcoholic beverages that are provided to customers at no charge.

That depends. If you pay a sales tax to the vendor in the state where you made the purchase and the rate of that tax is equal to or greater than the 9% rate, then you will not owe any additional tax when you bring the item into Maryland. However, if you are not charged a sales tax on your purchase, or if the amount of tax you pay is less than 9%, you will owe Maryland tax on the difference between the rate you paid to the other state and the 9% Maryland rate. You should also be aware that if you bring alcohol in excess of the quantity limitations specified in Tax-General Article §5-104(c) you will also owe the alcoholic beverage tax in addition to the sales and use tax.

For sales prior to July 1, 2012, you must charge the 9% sales and use tax on the sale of the beer and on any rental charge that you impose on the lease of the keg and related equipment. The deposit is not subject to sales and use tax. However, if the equipment is not returned and you retain the deposit as payment for the equipment, the deposit will be considered to be part of the taxable price of the alcoholic beverage and is then subject to the 9% sales and use tax.

For sales made on or after July 1, 2012, only the charge for the beer is subject to the 9% rate. Separately stated charges for rental of equipment are taxed at the 6% rate. If the equipment is not returned and you retain the deposit as payment for the equipment, the deposit will be considered to be the charge for the equipment and will be subject to tax at the 6% rate.

Because a sale that is subject to both sales and use tax and admissions and amusement tax is capped at 11%, you must charge the 9% sales and use tax on the sale of the alcoholic beverages, and apply the admissions and amusement tax to the gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages at a rate no higher than 2%, even if the jurisdiction normally imposes a higher rate. Your gross receipts from sales of food and non-alcoholic beverages that are taxed at a 6% sales and use tax rate are subject to admissions and amusement tax at a rate no higher than 5% due to the cap.

This will depend on whether the charge for entry is truly an "admission" charge as opposed to being a charge for the sale of the wine. If you are allowed entry to the venue without payment of any charge, and the only payment collected is from those who participate in the tastings, then the charge will be considered to be a sale of an alcoholic beverage and the 9% sales and use tax will apply. On the other hand, if everyone has to pay the admission in order to gain entry into the venue, regardless of whether they participate in the tastings or not, then the sales and use tax does not apply to the sale of admission tickets. However, depending on the jurisdiction, the gross receipts from the sale of the tickets may be subject to the admissions and amusements tax. In this case, the entities that are providing the wine tastings are considered to be the consumer of the products, and must pay the 9% tax on the cost of the wine.

The refillable containers (growlers) are tangible personal property and are subject to the 6% sales tax rate. The contents of the growler are subject to the 9% tax rate. If the customer is not purchasing the growler, there is no sales tax on a previously purchased refillable container. However, the 9% tax rate applies to the purchase of each refill of an alcoholic beverage.

You are considered to be the consumer of the food and drinks that you provide and you must pay any applicable sales and use tax on your cost of the food and beverage. You must pay the 9% sales and use tax on your purchase of any alcoholic beverages that are provided to customers at no charge. The gross receipts on your ticket sales may be subject to the admissions and amusement tax depending on where you are located.

Your sales and use tax registration number is an eight-digit number that has been assigned to your business. You'll find your registration number on each sales and use tax return we send you and on your sales and use tax license.

You must clearly document the reason for all tax-exempt sales. Otherwise you will be held responsible for uncollected tax, plus penalty and interest. You should establish procedures to obtain valid resale certificates at the point of sale, and review your files periodically for accuracy and completeness.

Make certain that you do not allow resale exclusions on cash, check or credit card sales of less than $200 when you do not deliver the goods sold directly to the buyer's retail place of business.

You should keep resale certificates on file as part of your business records. You must be able to match your sales records with the appropriate resale certificates for audit purposes.

No. Retailers licensed and remitting taxes in other states may apply to the Maryland Comptroller's Office for a refund.

However, an out-of-state vendor who has been issued a temporary permit to collect the Maryland tax may use the number on that permit to make tax-free purchases for resale at the show for which the permit was issued. Temporary permits bear six-digit numbers and are issued by the comptroller's Special Events Section.

No. If you frequently deal with the same supplier, you may provide that supplier with a blanket resale certificate stating that all purchases are for resale. Then all you have to do is give the supplier your sales and use tax registration number.

No. Exemption certificates are issued by the Comptroller of Maryland to qualifying nonprofit organizations and government agencies to make purchases for their own use. The exemption certificate is a wallet-sized card bearing the holder's eight-digit exemption number. Certificates issued to nonprofit organizations have a specific expiration date, presently September 30, 2017 for religious, educational and charitable organizations, cemeteries, credit unions, and volunteer fire companies or rescue squads and September 30, 2017 for certain veterans organizations and their auxiliaries and units. Certificates issued to government agencies have no expiration date. Organizations and government agencies presenting exemption certificates are exempt from the sales and use tax on purchases of materials and supplies to carry out their work. On the other hand, a resale certificate allows a person to make tax-free purchases for resale, not for use.

Although there is no specific form for a resale certificate, it must include a signed statement that the purchase is intended for resale, the purchaser's name and address, and the purchaser's Maryland sales and use tax registration number.

In a typical transaction, you would sell merchandise to a vendor who is not registered to collect Maryland sales and use tax. The unregistered vendor asks you to deliver the merchandise to a customer in Maryland. In this case, you must:

  • Require the vendor to obtain a Maryland sales and use tax license and provide a valid resale certificate; OR
  • Charge the vendor the tax based on the amount of the sale. You are responsible for collecting or documenting the tax on your sale to the vendor.

Twice a year Maryland holds special shopping events when the state sales tax on certain purchases is waived. These events help consumers stretch their dollar just a bit more, and help business owners generate more foot traffic.

Shop Maryland Energy and Shop Maryland Tax-free Week occur in February and August every year thanks to legislation passed in the 2007 special session of the Maryland General Assembly.

Shop Maryland Energy takes place in the month of February for qualified Energy Star products or a solar water heater. The tax-free period for these products begins on the Saturday immediately preceding the third Monday in February.

Shop Maryland Tax-free Week occurs every year beginning the second Sunday of August through the following Saturday. Each qualifying article of clothing or footwear selling for $100 or less is exempt from sales tax, regardless of how many items are purchased at the same time. For example, two $60 sweaters purchased at the same time are both exempt even though the total of the purchase is greater than $100. Additionally, the first $40 of a backpack or bookbag purchase is also tax-free. Accessory items, except for backpacks, are not included.

Unlike previous tax-free periods, businesses selling other items not eligible for inclusion in the tax-free week can participate in Shop Maryland. Under regulations dubbed "Sellers Privilege", other merchandise besides apparel and backpacks can be sold tax free but with the retailer paying the sales tax.

These tax-free events will continue until the legislature decides to revisit the issue.

Seller's Privilege

Unlike in previous tax-free periods, businesses selling other items not eligible for inclusion in the tax-free week can participate in Shop Maryland. Legislation passed in 2007, dubbed Sellers Privilege, allows other merchandise besides apparel to be sold tax free but with the retailer absorbing the sales tax.

A vendor may assume or absorb all or any part of the sales and use tax on a retail sale and pay that tax on behalf of the buyer. The vendor must, however, continue to separately state the tax from the sales price at the time of the sale to the purchaser. If the vendor absorbs all or any part of the tax on the sale, the vendor shall pay the tax with the return that covers the period in which the vendor makes the sale.

Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week

The second Sunday of August to the following Saturday is designated as Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week each year. That means qualifying apparel and footwear $100 or less, per item, are exempt from the state sales tax. The first $40 of a backpack or bookbag purchase is also tax-free. Accessory items, except for backpacks, are not included. The Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week for 2019 is Sunday, August 11 - Saturday, August 17.

Additionally, there is a tax-free three-day weekend every February during which the state sales tax will not apply to the sale of any Energy Star Product listed below, or solar water heater. The Shop Maryland Energy Tax-Free weekend for 2020 is February 16-18.

Energy Star Product means an air conditioner, clothes washer or dryer, furnace, heat pump, standard size refrigerator, compact fluorescent light bulb, light-emitting diode (LED) light bulb, dehumidifier, or programmable thermostat that has been designated as meeting or exceeding the applicable Energy Star Efficiency requirements developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Shop Maryland Energy

Consumers will get a break from the state's 6 percent sales tax on qualifying Energy Star products from February 16-18, 2019. During Shop Maryland Energy weekend, the following Energy Star products are tax free:

  • Air conditioners
  • Clothes washers and dryers
  • Furnaces
  • Heat pumps
  • Boilers
  • Solar water heaters (tax-exempt at all times now)
  • Standard size refrigerators
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Programmable thermostats
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs

Shop Maryland Energy weekend will occur in perpetuity (or until legislative amendment) from the Saturday immediately preceding the third Monday in February until the third Monday of February. Additionally, a tax free week on clothing and footwear priced $100 or less will occur every year during the second week of August.

From 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, February 16, through midnight on Monday, February 18, 2019, qualifying ENERGY STAR products will be exempt from Maryland's 6 percent sales tax. For additional information, please see our Frequently Asked Questions.

By law, you are required to make your business records available for inspection by an auditor from the Comptroller's Office at any time during business hours. The burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that you collected and paid the sales and use tax correctly. Your records must adequately distinguish taxable sales and purchases from non-taxable sales and purchases. If you do not have adequate records, the Comptroller's Office may compute a liability by projection from available records, by a survey of similar businesses or on any other reasonable basis.

You must keep all records pertaining to sales and purchases for four years. You should keep the kinds of general business records that are appropriate for your type of business. These general business records might include a general ledger, subsidiary ledgers, journal entries, bank statements, check stubs, and federal and state income tax returns. An auditor must be able to follow the flow of each transaction and match up all documents pertaining to that transaction. Documents or books of records that are incomplete, missing or illegible are not adequate records.

You will also need to keep, where appropriate:

  • Original invoices
  • Resale certificates
  • Bills of lading
  • Sales slips
  • Receipts for purchases
  • Purchase orders
  • Mailing or shipping documentation for out-of-state deliveries
  • Cash register tapes
  • Documentation for exempt sales
  • Completed copies of any Real Property Contractor 1% Sales and Use Tax Exemption Certificate (Form COT/CD 132) used in qualifying purchases by contractors and subcontractors.

Reproductions of records made in the regular course of business, as well as computerized records are permissible if you follow certain guidelines.

Out-of-State-Deliveries

You are not required to collect tax on articles that you have delivered to an address outside the state of Maryland if you have no reason to believe the articles are intended for use in Maryland. Your records should clearly state that an item was delivered out-of-state.

A few large corporations have Direct Payment Permits, which authorize them to pay the tax directly to the comptroller. If you make a sale to one of these corporations, you must record the Direct Payment Permit number with your records of the sale.

The Maryland sales and use tax does not apply to sales of machinery and equipment used in production activities, sales of tangible personal property for consumption in production activities, or sales of tangible personal property for resale or incorporation as a material or part of other tangible personal property produced for sale.

The Tangible Personal Property Used or Consumed in a Production Activity citations are from COMAR 03.06.01.32-2 and COMAR 03.06.01.24.

Exempt activities

Tax-exempt production activities include:

  • Assembling, manufacturing, processing, or refining tangible personal property for sale or resale (except for processing food or beverages by a food vendor);
  • Generating electricity for sale or for use in production activity;
  • Establishing or maintaining clean rooms or clean zones required by federal laws pertaining to manufacturing drugs, medical devices, or biologics;
  • Producing, maintaining, and repairing production machinery or equipment;
  • Laundering, maintaining or preparing textiles in providing the taxable service of commercial cleaning or laundering of textiles for a buyer engaged in a business that requires this service on a recurring basis of a commercial cleaning or laundering of the textiles;
  • Providing for the safety of employees, including safety glasses, hard hats and breathing apparatus; or,
  • Providing for quality control.

Servicing, maintaining, or repairing tangible personal property other than production machinery or equipment, or providing for the health and comfort of employees are not production activities.

Exempt items

Tax-exempt items include:

  • any tangible personal property used directly and predominantly in a production activity in any stage of operation on the production activity site - from handling raw materials or components to moving finished product;
  • foundations to support other machinery and equipment or an item required to conform to air or water pollution laws and normally considered part of real property;
  • safety equipment used in production activity;
  • quality control machinery and equipment used in a production activity site;
  • equipment and supplies used to remove finished goods on a production activity site;
  • machinery used to produce bituminous concrete; and
  • certain specified equipment used in aluminum production.

"Direct" and "predominant" use

Tangible personal property is considered to be used "directly" when the use of the property is integral and essential to the production activity; the use occurs where the production activity is carried on and occurs during the production activity.

The property is considered to be used "predominantly" when the property is used directly in production activities more than 50 percent of the time.

Lease payments

Lease payments of production activity equipment also qualify for the exemption. If machinery or equipment is used both in a production activity and administrative, managerial, sales or any other non-operational activity, the exemption applies if it is used at least 50 percent of the time in a production activity.

Food preparation by restaurants and food retailers

Generally, food processed for sale by grocery stores, bakeries and other food retailers does not qualify for exemption. However, there is a specific exemption for the sale of equipment to be used by a retail food vendor to manufacture or process bread or bakery goods for resale. To qualify for the exemption, the vendor must operate a substantial grocery or market business (as defined in Section 11-206(a) of the Tax-General Article) at the same location where the food is sold. The taxable price of each piece of exempt equipment must be at least $2,000.

Utilities and fuel

Sales of utilities and fuel qualify for exemption under the same terms as other consumables. However, the use of these items in operating administrative, commercial and storage facilities and in providing plant heating and air conditioning is not exempt. When utilities are sold through a single meter for both taxable and exempt uses, taxability is controlled by majority usage. The taxability of oil and coal is also controlled by majority usage where it is impractical to segregate qualifying and non-qualifying usage. To claim the exemption for utilities and fuel, contact Taxpayer Service to obtain Form ST206 and send the completed form to the vendor.

Research and development

The sales tax does not apply to purchases of tangible personal property for use or consumption in research and development. Research and development means basic and applied research in the sciences and engineering and the design, development and governmentally mandated pre-market testing of prototypes and processes. Market research, research in the social sciences or psychology, and other nontechnical activities, routine product testing, sales services or technical and nontechnical services are not included.

No special forms are required to claim the research and development exemption. If entitlement to exemption is not evident from the documents of sale, the vendor should obtain a certificate from the purchaser stating that the property will qualify.

Resale and incorporation exclusions

Vendors may not recognize the resale and incorporation exclusions unless you provide them with a resale certificate with a signed statement that the purchases are for resale and including the buyer's name, address and Maryland sales and use tax registration number. For more information on the use of resale certificates, contact Taxpayer Service and request Business Tax Tip #4, If you Make Purchases for Resale.

Printing industry

The sales tax does not apply to the sale of photographic materials used to produce an item (such as a photographic plate) used in composing, printing or producing another item used in printing. Sales of artwork, electrodes, electrotypes, composition, litho-graphic plates or negatives, mats, photo engravings, stereotypes or typographies for direct use by a person engaged in printing tangible personal property for sale are also exempt. A person selling the items, other than those that are photographic in nature, must pay the tax on all materials used to produce them. A printer who produces these items for self use also must pay tax on all materials.

Claim procedure

No special forms are needed to claim the machinery and consumable exemptions, other than Form ST206 for utilities and fuel. If a vendor requires documentation to support a claim for the machinery exemption, a signed form certifying use in production activities may be provided. The consumables exclusion may be supported by a statement in the form of a resale certificate stating that the property will qualify.

Certain qualified nonprofit organizations are exempt from paying tax on the purchase of items which will be used in carrying out the business of the organization.

The state of Maryland issues exemption certificates to properly qualified organizations. You should record the eight-digit number from this certificate on your copy of the receipt or sales slip.

If you are presented with an exemption certificate, you may use our online service to verify its validity.

Materials that will be incorporated in property to be produced for sale are not subject to tax. You should keep a resale certificate, signed by the buyer and bearing the buyer's Maryland registration number, on file to document the tax-free sales of exempt materials. If you are presented with a resale certificate, you may use our online services to verify its validity.

Reproductions of records made in the regular course of business, as well as computerized records, are permissible if you follow the guidelines outlined below.

Microfilm and Microfiche

You must offer suitable facilities for viewing microfilm and microfiche records. You must also provide any copies which may be required for tax verification purposes.

Computerized Tax Accounting

  • Produce visible records necessary to verify tax liabilities.
  • Permit a transaction to be traced back to the original source or forward to the totals.
  • Make available a description of the system, including flow charts and procedures.
  • Have controls to insure accuracy.

The U.S. Department of State issues a white plastic tax exemption card to qualified diplomats. You must record the tax-exempt number from the back of the card onto the sales slip. Please be aware that the certificates may not be valid for all purposes.

Blue stripes

Cards with BLUE stripes entitle the holder to an exemption from the tax on all purchases.

Green stripes

Cards with GREEN stripes entitle the holder to an exemption from the tax on all purchases except the tax on transient accommodations.

Red stripes

Cards with RED stripes entitle the holder to an exemption from the tax on purchases of taxable items, which exceed the $50, $100 or $200 levels printed on the reverse side of the cards.

Online verification

You may use our online service to verify the validity of a diplomatic tax exemption card.

A resale certificate is a written statement that you provide stating that the merchandise or taxable service you buy will be resold in a taxable sale or that it will be incorporated into tangible personal property or used in a service that will be taxed when it is sold. Although there is no specific form for a resale certificate, it must include:
  • a signed statement that the purchase is intended for resale,
  • the purchaser's name and address; and,
  • the purchaser's Maryland sales and use tax registration number.
    Note: Your sales and use tax registration number is an eight-digit number that has been assigned to your business. You'll find your registration number on each sales and use tax return we send you and on your sales and use tax license.

If you frequently deal with the same vendor, you may provide that vendor with a blanket resale certificate stating that all purchases are for resale. However it is important to note that your vendor retains the right to ask for a resale certificate for each transaction. If the vendor agrees to receive your blanket resale certificate then all you have to do is give the supplier your sales and use tax registration number.

Record Keeping

Vendors must clearly document the reason for all tax-exempt sales and should keep resale certificates on file as part of your business records. You must be able to match your sales records with the appropriate resale certificates for audit purposes. You can be held liable for uncollected taxes if you accept resale certificates for sales that you know or should know are not for resale.

Purchases under $200

Resale certificates may not be used to make tax-free purchases for resale if the purchase is less than $200 and payment is by cash, check or credit card unless the seller delivers the goods directly to the buyer's retail place of business. However, you may present a resale certificate to make a tax-free purchase of goods for less than $200 if you are purchasing goods: (1) on credit by the seller; (2) which would be exempt even if not sold for resale; or (3) which are alcoholic beverages regulated by Article 2B of the Annotated Code of Maryland. View a Sample Blanket Resale Certificate.

The following report(s) are part of a collection of monthly revenue reports published by the Comptroller's Office. For a full listing of monthly and annual reports, see Spotlight on Maryland Money.

Sales and Use Tax Monthly Comparative Revenue Statement: Comparative statement of sales and use tax receipts.