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Taxes? At estate sales?

Do you have to pay sales tax at estate sales in your state? I’m talking about sales of a deceased person’s stuff, priced and run by a professional estate sale company. Not an auction. Not a yard sale where somebody just threw their stuff on the lawn. Here in Alabama I’ve only encountered that once. In, I’m embarrassed to say, 30 years of going to estate sales, it’s happened once.

We were in Georgia for the weekend of the wedding and while going to town – to buy me a pair of pants because I spilled tea all over the only pair I brought for that day – passed an estate sale sign. Errrrrkkkkk! (That sudden turning of the car sound.) We had time. How can we resist an estate sale out of our usual territory?! Turns out, it was the second week, yes, week of the sale. Things were half price, but there wasn’t much of interest. I picked up a creamer and a bunch of wooden hangers. They were charging $2 each for pants hangers and $1 each for neat-o, blue wooden hangers. Then half of that. The creamer was $3.50 at half price. So, I get up there, counted the hangers looked to see how much money I had and saw that it was just enough. The price they quoted was a bit more. I said, “Huh?” We counted again and I’m like, “That’s what I thought. I have just enough.” But they said no. They had to add tax. Who charges tax on estate sale crap??? We discussed that a little and they suggested I put the creamer back. What? I kept my mouth shut, but I was thinking, “They can’t give me a few crummy hangers?! That’s ridiculous!” I ended up putting it all back. The nerve. They said they couldn’t discount anything any more. That they had to account for everything. Bah! Like the family is going to get mad at them for letting a few hangers slide.

So, do you have to pay sales tax? I understand auctions charging tax. We write the check to them, not the hauler. But an estate sale, run by professionals…. Well, they’re a service. They shouldn’t have to pay tax for being the middle man. Should they? Isn’t it like hiring someone to price and watch your yard sale junk? What’s the difference? They said, “but we’re professionals.” But it’s not their stuff! Help me understand. Here in Bama, at estate sales, we write the check to the “estate of ___” or something similar. Maybe that’s how they get away with it? We don’t pay sales tax for services.







3 thoughts on “Taxes? At estate sales?

  1. Hey Wanda I’ve been to a couple of estate sales here in Florida that have charged sales tax. I guess if the sale is run by an actual estate sale “company”, they have to pay tax to the state like any other small business. Did you know? (I sound like that John Tesh radio show) that when you get a 1 day peddlers license, say for a day @ the flea market as a seller, you’re supposed to report your “earnings” and collect tax. WHaa??? Okay, I’m as honest as the next gal, but we pay so much tax on just about everything that we buy, right? I think if the item was new at one time, and what wasn’t?, you shouldn’t have to pay tax on it when it’s sold a second time, as in used stuff. O f course the tax man isn’t going to listen to me, which may be a good thing…guess we don’t need any more states goin’ broke like Cali, right? Okay…I’m getting down off my soap box now….have a great week *elaine*

  2. It’s probably a state-by-state thing. Here in VA/DC/MD, if you write a check it’s to the estate-sale company. And pretty much every business that sells anything needs to pay taxes, so maybe that’s it. Maybe you had a good 30-yr ride and need to embrace that!

    Elaine is right about when you sell at a flea, too. When I did the Big Flea, they passed out VA Tax forms and you’re supposed to send it in. Me, being a rule-following geek (and with a registered business) always did. Didn’t want to get in trouble. I’m not saying I always paid it all, but….. just saying!

    I didn’t charge my customers tax because that’s too much of a pain to make change. Maybe that’s what you’d been experiencing at estate sales in AL. I’m sure they’re PAYING the tax, just not charging you. It’ll be interesting to see what others chime in from other areas!

  3. Yes, I just found out in WA State that “selling agents” like professional liquidators have to charge sales tax if they are a registered business in the state. It is a nightmare to have to go through this, but I am doing just that right now. I had no idea that I was supposed to do this and now have just been informed by a client I took a job with who works for the Revenue Dept. To all those out there who are Estate Sale Professionals, you better take the time to find out before the Revenue Dept. comes knocking at your door…..

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