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Well, that was easy. I just registered for a sales and use tax number for the great state of Minnesota. Not that it was particularly hard before, but the process has gotten even faster and easier because of the internet.

Back in the 1990s, Erik and I owned a neon sign shop called E-M Designs. We had to have a sales and use tax number for that business and I remember there being paperwork to fill out and send in. Then we had to wait for the number to be assigned and a notification to be sent to us. We had to report the sales tax we collected for each quarter, plus any use tax we owed, again via paperwork. A few years after we closed our business, the number became inactive and we no longer had to deal with the rigmarole.

When I started Woo Woo Teacup Publishing in order to publish Greenville through a print-on-demand service, I figured I needed to get a new sales and use tax number. What a colossal problem that was. I called Minnesota Revenue to ask if I could get a new number. It seems to me there were questions about our old number, which we hashed out. The woman on the phone then had me check with the print-on-demand service to see if it collected sales tax on purchases through its website. It did. According to her, I didn’t need a sales and use tax number because the print-on-demand service was handling it. What I didn’t think about at the time was that I could purchase my books at cost and sell them in person, which would necessitate a sales and use tax number. Because this wasn’t on my mind, I didn’t communicate it to the woman I spoke with at Minnesota Revenue, which means I didn’t get a number and haven’t been selling any books in person. (Not that I’ve had a lot of money to purchase an inventory of books, mind you.)

Now that I’ve got a reading coming up and an opportunity to sell some books, I decided to try again to get a sales and use tax number. I went to the MN Revenue website to find a phone number. I clicked on the Sales and Use Tax link first under Tax Information (upper left-hand side of the screen) and was taken to a page with another series of related links. I clicked on one labeled “Should I be collecting Minnesota sales tax?” and then followed a link labeled “register for a sales tax identification number.” This opened a page with a phone number to call MN Revenue for registration. When I called, I got a menu of items to select from, which also included a message to register online for a sales and use tax number. Hmm. Okay.

Back online I went, to the Home page, where I found a link in the right side bar, under the Businesses heading: Register for a Minnesota tax ID number. I had to download a small program for the registration app to work. Once the Silverlight app was loaded (you have to close and reopen the browser window to reload the page), I was taken through a series of screens to fill in business and contact information. My sales and use tax number was emailed to me within a minute or two of clicking the final confirmation button. Easy-peasy, lemon-squeazy!

Through my experience at work, I know that I can also report and submit and sales and use tax payments online. There’ll be no more paperwork to send in. Woohoo!