California Dealer Academy Learning Articles and Resources

California Resellers Permit for California Car Dealers

November 8th, 2023 by Garrett Eddings

A seller's permit in California is an official document issued by the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA), formerly known as the Board of Equalization. This permit allows individuals and businesses to sell tangible personal property in the state and collect sales tax from their customers. Tangible personal property includes physical items such as goods, merchandise, and vehicles.

California Resellers Permit for Auto Dealers

Car dealers in California are required to obtain a seller's permit because they engage in the business of selling vehicles, which are considered tangible personal property. When a car dealer sells a vehicle, they are required to collect sales tax on the transaction. The seller's permit enables them to legally collect and remit the appropriate amount of sales tax to the state.

This allows California Car Dealers to purchase vehicles for the purpose of resale, without having to pay sales tax on those vehicles. When it comes to the sales tax of vehicles, it ultimately comes from the retail sale and from the retail customer.

Car dealers in California are required to collect sales tax at the time of sale and registration of a vehicle for several reasons:

Taxation on Tangible Personal Property

In California, vehicles are considered tangible personal property. The sale of tangible personal property is subject to sales tax. The state imposes a sales tax on the retail sale of tangible personal property, and this tax is collected at the time of the transaction.

Revenue Generation

Sales tax is a significant source of revenue for the state. It funds various government services and programs, including infrastructure, education, and public services. By requiring car dealers to collect and remit sales tax, the state ensures a steady stream of revenue from the sale of vehicles.

Consumer Fairness

Collecting sales tax at the time of sale and registration ensures that the tax burden is distributed fairly among consumers. It prevents individuals from purchasing vehicles without paying the required sales tax, which could create an uneven playing field and potentially lead to tax evasion.

Streamlining the Process

Collecting sales tax at the time of registration simplifies the process for both the government and consumers. It allows for a more straightforward and efficient method of tax collection, reducing the likelihood of tax evasion and ensuring that the appropriate taxes are collected in a timely manner.

Legal Requirement

It is a legal requirement in California for car dealers to collect and remit sales tax on the sale of vehicles. Failure to comply with these tax regulations can lead to legal consequences, penalties, and potential suspension or revocation of the dealer's license.

By collecting sales tax at the time of vehicle registration, the state aims to ensure that all applicable taxes are paid, and that the revenue generated contributes to the funding of essential public services. This practice is common in many jurisdictions as a means of funding government operations and services.

It's important for car dealers to comply with these regulations to ensure that the appropriate sales tax is collected and remitted to the state government. Failure to obtain a seller's permit or to properly collect and remit sales tax can result in penalties and legal consequences.

Car dealers typically apply for a seller's permit through the CDTFA, and once obtained, they are required to display the permit at their place of business. This permit needs to be renewed periodically, and dealers must stay in compliance with California tax laws.

For more information check out our comprehensive guide on obtaining a seller's permit as a car dealer in California

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