how do taxes work with shopify

Everything You Need To Know About Shopify Dropshipping Taxes (2022) what's going on guys so there is

Tan Choudhury

Updated on Jan 17,2023

Everything You Need To Know About Shopify Dropshipping Taxes (2022)

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Everything You Need To Know About Shopify Dropshipping Taxes (2022)

what's going on guys so there is so much,confusion with drop shipping and taxes,that most beginners or even advanced,drop shippers have no idea how any of,this works and that's why i'm bringing,on one of the most knowledgeable people,in this field who's been a tax expert,for over 10 years so i'm super excited,to be sharing this information with you,um give them a little introduction of,who you are hey guys i'm chris rivera,i'm founder of a firm called the,e-commerce accountant's name kind of,says it all uh we're an accounting firm,that specializes in online sellers um i,throw around e-commerce very loosely um,but,mainly we deal with entrepreneurs that,are in e-commerce so i've been an,accountant for 10 years like you said,and i've been niche down,in e-commerce for about four years,awesome so yeah guys so i asked you on,my instagram a few days ago on what,questions you guys wanted to hear from,him so i have a bunch of really cool,questions but i also want to start off,with him giving a little overview of,what drop shipping taxes are because i,think people in general have a lot of,confusion whether you're a new,entrepreneur or you don't know what's,going down chris is going to give you,the lowdown on this,the way i like to break it down is into,two separate categories so if you're an,online seller the risk is really,centered around income taxes and,sales taxes so,income taxes are name kind of says that,all it's a tax based on your income or,your profits right and we can dive into,that in more detail if you'd like and,then sales taxes is something that is,confusing to a lot of entrepreneurs,because it's actually not a tax that the,entrepreneur technically pays it's a tax,that your customer pays so if you're in,the business of e-commerce,those are the two things in terms of,taxes that you should really be focused,on income taxes and sales taxes okay,cool so i think one of the largest,questions that i had a lot of you guys,asked this is when do you actually need,to pay taxes as an e-commerce business,owner because most people are completely,lost on this,a lot of entrepreneurs not just,e-commerce entrepreneurs but,entrepreneurs in general think that,april 15th is when you pay your taxes,which is definitely not true april 15th,is when you file your tax return which,tells the irs how much money you owe in,taxes basically realistically how it's,supposed to work is you're supposed to,pay taxes quarterly or four times a year,uh and the whole idea there is you know,for those of you who have had a w-2 job,before when you get a paycheck,taxes are getting taken out of your,paycheck and the irs is getting paid,sporadically bi-weekly monthly however,often you're getting paid,but for,you as an entrepreneur if you're making,10 000 on shopify let's say taxes aren't,getting withheld out of those payments,the irs is not getting paid so the way,that they counteract that is they force,you as an entrepreneur to pay taxes,quarterly which is you know every three,months you're supposed to stop calculate,your profits estimated tax pay it into,the irs and that's the main reason why i,always tell entrepreneurs you know don't,wait till tax season to hire a good,accountant wait till you're actually,making substantial amounts of income,then hire someone to make sure that you,mitigate your risk from a from a tax,standpoint absolutely guys you need to,be listening to this because there is,just so much confusion in this space and,i think chris is really going to clear a,lot up over here so one thing that i,think would be really beneficial to,people watching this because i know a,lot of the viewers are primarily in the,beginning stages what piece of advice,could you give to someone who's just,getting into this field they want to,start making money but,they're just not sure how this works,like what advice would you give them to,make sure they're doing this properly,i'm a firm believer in when you're an,entrepreneur just focus on making money,and the rest as you become more and more,successful the rest will work itself out,uh let's break this down into legally,and tax wise i'm not a lawyer by trade,but i know enough to kind of give some,advice,i definitely recommend in the beginning,getting an llc because that at the very,least gives you,uh legal protection but also it gives,you the opportunity to structure to save,money in taxes later on so setting up an,llc i believe is super super important,and that goes for both american,entrepreneurs but also non-american,entrepreneurs as well,on the tax side of it,i think that in the beginning just focus,on making money you know it's taxes are,very complex and professionals that,specialize in giving tax advice are also,very expensive so in the beginning just,focus on making money,and then as soon as you have budget to,pay a professional to help you mitigate,or reduce risk for taxes definitely do,so so,to break that down you know 20 000 or,more per year in sales that's when i,recommend that you hire an accountant to,at the very least do your tax return and,then once you're doing 30 000 or more,per month in sales,that's when i recommend you hire someone,to strategically help you tax plan so,what could people do at home right now,to prepare because obviously there's,some actions that they could be doing,themselves right,yeah so,i am a firm believer in having good data,so,doing your own bookkeeping accounting in,the beginning it's safe you know i,always tell entrepreneurs that as you're,starting to scale up don't undervalue,the importance of bookkeeping because,bookkeeping gives you financial data,which is super important to making,decisions for your business but also,feeds directly into your tax return i,mean i said before,you know your income taxes are based on,your income or your profits right and if,your profits are wrong you know your tax,number is going to be wrong and that,could be a very substantial amount,absolutely so,my recommendation is in the beginning,definitely focus on getting your,accounting and bookkeeping in order and,that doesn't always necessarily mean,outsourcing that work but again as you,start to generate more and more,substantial amounts of income it becomes,more of a high risk area,so uh in the beginning just focus on the,data the numbers get book keeping,accounting in order and uh you know,again once you hit that 20 000,sales threshold in a year hire a tax,professional to help you at the very,least report things correctly absolutely,okay cool so,what company structure do you recommend,for e-commerce businesses and at what,stage because you know i know a lot of,people are starting off with a sole,proprietorship like what do you,recommend for beginners doing this or,even more advanced people and when,should they consider the next approach,so,legally i pretty much across the board,recommend having an llc for an,e-commerce seller now i see it all with,you know people coming in the funnel,saying hey another account told me a,corporation or partnership or whatever,for e-commerce llc is the way to go,whether you're an american or a foreign,entrepreneur because the tax treatment,of an llc is super flexible you can,literally submit a piece of paperwork,into the irs saying hey i have an llc,but i want my tax treatment to be an s,corp or a c4 or whatever,um so llc is a really good idea uh in,terms of your legal structure now the,other thing i'd love to find the person,who like started this whole rumor or,this trend in the space is i get people,all the time saying you know every,single store i set up i want to have a,separate llc right and while that does,provide legal protection the issue is,that the space we're in especially drop,shippers or i guess e-commerce,entrepreneurs in general,is it's transient in terms of the,stories you can have a store that does,super well for six months then it,fizzles out then you have a legal entity,that's out there that you should resolve,you have to do tax return you know so it,can get quite complex to track so,general guidance there is even if you're,the type of entrepreneur that has,multiple stores it's okay to have,multiple stores or multiple sales,channels etc,in one business entity cool now,i recommend more complex structures once,you have partnerships so,let's say you and i have a partnership,my recommendation is always you have,your own llc i have my own llc and you,structure things based on our different,business structures maybe our our,business entities have a partnership in,another entity something like that it,can get quite complex but,i believe that every entrepreneur should,at the very least have their own llc,cool yeah that was actually one of my,questions is you know these,entrepreneurs obviously we like starting,a lot of businesses so entrepreneurs the,drop shippers out there have five even,six stores and people are wondering how,they can structure this into maybe one,company or they should they put this,into a few different companies or what,do you recommend as far as you know,giving them guidance because,obviously they're gonna keep making,these stores the biggest pushback i get,with people putting multiple stores in,the business entity which for the record,i believe is totally fine but people say,well what if i want to sell my business,one day you know how am i going to sell,my business if i have,four stores running under the same llc,um and the answer is quite simple every,single time i've seen and i've seen this,a lot people selling their stores,usually the person who's acquiring a,store is purchasing the shopify account,yeah amazon account you know the,customer list paypal account they're,they're requiring asset assets not the,llc most likely exactly so as much as,that llc no matter what the name is how,important it is to you,if there's a transaction that happens,most likely that llc is not going to be,acquired so let's say i have an llc with,two stores in it and you want to buy one,of the stores what's going to happen is,in every situation i've seen this is the,case you're going to buy one of the,stores maybe the paypal account payment,processors etc and i still own the llc,at the end exactly okay awesome,so i think by far the most confusing,part about taxes in e-commerce is sales,tax which you know hopefully you can,agree on that but,what guidance or even just an overview,on sales taxes for everyone at home,watching this because i know there's,been some new laws that have changed,some,different uh procedures so maybe you,could elaborate on this so sales taxes,is definitely very complex um,i'll start off with an example,so think of a time you were in a let's,say a clothing store right you see a,t-shirt you like for 20 bucks so you,grab the t-shirt go to the checkout,counter and try to slip them a 20 bill,you can't buy the shirt why because the,sales taxes so the customer is not,paying 20 for that sure they're paying,21.50 let's say right so sales taxes as,i said before is really a tax on the,consumer the person buying the shirt so,let's say you paid 21.50 for the shirt,20 is the store's revenue 1.50 is sales,taxes that's not the store's money the,store is supposed to take that and pay,it into the jurisdiction or state,whatever state there are,now,historically for e-commerce sellers,sales taxes was only an issue where,you're physically present so we're here,in sunny florida you know every time i,had a customer ship to florida,you should be charging that customer,sales taxes here in florida all the,other states no risk,now the whole big thing is it was,actually a federal court case that,changed all with amazon is that correct,uh it was with uh,uh wayfair wayfarer that's what way in,there was that your case so,uh but it affected amazon,yeah for obvious reasons,i'll explain because there's probably a,lot of amazon sellers in your audience,i'll show you yeah definitely but uh,basically how it works is,if you have a strong economic presence,now,the state can come after you for sales,taxes meaning we're in florida let's say,we both live in florida and you have,substantial sales in california right,even though you don't have inventory,employees you don't live there uh you,have no physical presence in california,if you have a substantial amount of,sales,uh california can come after you for,sales taxes yeah i've heard this so,what we tell clients is especially the,ones that just start out just focus on,doing sales taxes in the state you're,physically present now now physical,presence is where you live,where you have employees or where you,have inventory,okay so if you have any of those three,things in a state you have a physical,presence you have substantial sales tax,risk and any orders that are shipped to,that state you should be charging sales,taxes and you know it's a lot easier,than it sounds in shopify there's a,button in the back end where you just,turn on sales taxes for whatever state,so anytime a customer checks out if,they're shipping to new york and you,don't have that button on they don't pay,sales tax for sure they ship to florida,they get charged sales taxes then you,the store owner have to take that money,and pay it into the state,um that for what you collected it for,okay cool um,so chris actually focuses in the united,states and u.s clients but we definitely,have a lot of international viewers,watching this um what can you tell us,about vat tax because a lot of people,on instagram were asking about this and,i think it would be awesome,so vat tax hit us twice this year first,it was brexit and then now it's uh the,euro,so,what happened was,vat taxes essentially sales taxes yeah,for uh really any entrepreneur that,ships to europe right,so the thing about vat taxes is it's,very difficult for them to catch you you,know not to say don't be compliant but,you know,risk-based approach and entrepreneurship,is fair game you know you've got to,focus your time energy and where you're,investing your money in places that you,know are smart you know and tax,compliance in place that you have low,risk,is uh you know that's something you have,to consider,but,uh here's what happened,so,vat taxes have been around forever right,this is not something new what changed,was as of,two years ago or whenever the whole,brexit thing happened with england uh,england was no longer part of the europe,so,when england decided to no longer be,part of the euro they said we are also,not going to partake in the euro of that,laws we are going to come out with their,own brexit english that laws so what,they said was january 1st 2021,is,the the go live date for anyone who's,shipping products into our country you,essentially have to charge that taxes to,your customers and pay back taxes it's,very similar concept to sales taxes so,uh,why we got the question so much it was,terrible because it was during tax,season so why it was a whole big thing,was shopify put a notification on on the,uh on on your store saying hey just so,you know that taxes for england or live,for for brexit right so,what we saw happen was they put out a,bunch of legislation a bunch of scary,stuff to scare entrepreneurs into being,compliant,but what we were noticing is that the,companies especially for drop shippers,that were shipping,products from wherever your warehouse is,in china and the u.s wherever into,europe the shipping companies were,actually registering for bad taxes on,your behalf and what you may have,noticed is that the prices,increase,um for your for your shipping costs or,for your product costs whatever so,the shipping companies were doing that,on your behalf,then it all happened again because,england had so many people start to,become compliant with that laws that,europe decided to do the exact same,thing with their laws and change their,rules and scare a bunch of entrepreneurs,into being compliant there as well and,we saw the same exact thing happen with,shipping companies where they would,register on behalf of the companies that,were using them to ship,so,a lot of people that come in the funnel,say hey what's the situation with that,i've stopped sending orders to england,or to europe in general whatever and i,say keep it going just make sure you,check with the company that's shipping,your orders with your supplier whoever,and as long as they have a registration,for that you should be good to go to,safely ship to uh europe awesome,guys i hope you realize how valuable,this information is he's absolutely,killing it here if you are enjoying this,video make sure to hit that like button,and subscribe to the channel we're going,to be getting into a few more questions,with him um so question for you what do,you think is the easiest way for,e-commerce sellers to save money on,their taxes just low hanging fruit for,different entrepreneurs out there right,now yeah definitely so if you're an,american entrepreneur,uh definitely what you can do is,restructure business as an ask for now,that definitely takes some working with,a professional it's not something i,recommend doing on your own but the tax,savings can be substantial and it's not,a ton of work to do,um other things include making sure,you're doing good bookkeeping as simple,as it sounds you know a lot of,entrepreneurs actually overestimate how,much money they're making which is good,when they tell their friends but not,good when they tell a guy like me that's,going to calculate how much taxes they,pay so good thorough bookkeeping is,actually one of the best taxes i,completely agree because you know my,second year into this i mean to be,honest my first two years i didn't do,books that well and now that i have it,on point it's completely changed the,game so,yeah that's great advice,well the thing is i mean,there are so many different softwares,that you're using you're paying maybe a,couple different companies for va's or,it you know things add up and you might,forget certain expenses you know so good,thorough bookkeeping is good also um,deducting car and rent i mean,as an entrepreneur you're a work from,home business yes and you can deduct,part of your car how much could someone,potentially deduct i mean i know there's,unique scenarios because i've rented out,a house before did shipping out of the,garage and i had my office there so i,kind of maximized the deductions there,but what would you say the average,person with you know maybe a room in,their house could be deducting from,their rent because they could probably,save a ton of money with this absolutely,and it's an expense you have to have,anyway,so what we typically do with our clients,is it's based on square footage right so,if your house is let's say,1500 square feet,you technically are supposed to measure,out the space that's exclusively used,for business right this iris is very,strict on that uh,so let's say,of the 1500 square foot house,300 square feet are for,business use maybe you warehouse,inventory in your house or maybe you,have uh you know an office space,whatever the case is then that means 300,divided by 1500 is about 20,so 20,of your home space,is would be deductible in some way and,same thing with your car except instead,of square footage it's based on mileage,so you kind of prorate it in that way,what i typically see is for your home,right exclusive use for business is hard,to prove so we're pretty conservative,there but what we see is anywhere from,15 to 30 percent,of people's homes whether it's rent,owned whatever,you can write off for tax purposes and,then for the car it's a bit higher,because if you're if you have a work,from home business if you start tracking,your mileage you'd be shocked at how,often you can argue that you're leaving,home for business so we see,entrepreneurs right off anywhere from,forty to a hundred percent of their car,if you have two separate cars it's,pretty easy to write off a hundred,percent of one of those cars,so,definitely low hanging fruit there cool,so there's a lot of international,sellers who are watching this and they,want to know how taxes work and how,they're gonna have to pay taxes if,they're selling in the united states so,maybe you could get into this and uh so,this is a very complex area we recommend,consulting with a professional but,generally speaking if you're a drop,shipper and you're based outside of the,us,my recommendation is number one you have,an llc and that terrifies a lot of,foreign sellers because they're like oh,does that mean i have to pay us income,taxes now not necessarily,if you're a drop shipper and this is,gray the irs doesn't have exact guidance,around drop shippers but if you were a,drop shipper that ships to the us and,you have no physical presence in the u.s,it's called not having effectively,connected income that's the technical,term for it then even if you have an llc,all the irs wants you to do is an annual,filing each year that tells the irs how,much money you've taken out of the,country and as long as you're compliant,with that you can have a u.s llc with a,u.s bank account with u.s payment,processing and not have to pay any,income taxes here in the us however,you very likely,will have to pay income taxes back in,your home country now what's cool about,having an llc is and this is definitely,super super complex where i recommend,consulting with a professional but if,you live in a high tax jurisdiction,you could take that same llc,and trigger it to be treated as a c corp,and then what happens is instead of you,not paying taxes here and paying taxes,in your home country you can do the,opposite and pay the u.s corporate tax,rate which is 21,and not pay income taxes in your home,country that's very technical and,could take a lot of work to structure,correctly okay so obviously,you're going to want to speak to some,type of tax professional about this,right for sure yeah not something to,play around with because you could be,put in a position where you're paying,double you're paying taxes here in the,u.s taxes in your home country if it's,not structured correctly so just to,throw a number on it i recommend sellers,that are doing,uh,500 000 or more per month in sales,you know that's when the tax risk,becomes substantial for a foreign seller,here in the us so i recommend then to,consult with someone who,has an expertise in that area okay,awesome so um,how common is it for e-commerce,businesses to get audited and how can,you make sure that this doesn't happen,to you because i know this process isn't,fun we actually just went through our,first audit and got super super lucky um,i'll explain that situation in a second,but,most of the time when audits happen it's,because,in my experience it's shortcuts with,bookkeeping or people try to do their,own tax returns the irs has automated,systems to catch you and i'll explain,what are the automated systems that,affect e-commerce but also a part of its,brand as well so in terms of the,automated systems,when people have payment processors,right,they,one of the things they ask for whether,you strive shopify payments paypal is,hey what's your social security number,or ein number and people say oh my,social security number is,instead of putting the ein number sure,and what happens is,when you get that 1099 k form from your,payment processor right which is again,if you do 20 000 or more in sales in a,year,that form also goes to the irs so what,happens is the irs has a record that tan,made a hundred thousand dollars in sales,but when you do your tax return let's,say you have um i don't know e-com llc,e-com llc reports those sales and tan,doesn't report new sales the irs is,saying wait a minute,i don't have any sales,i have this record of sales from the,payment processor but can didn't report,any sales and that's the number one way,i see e-commerce sellers get tripped up,is they forget to include the correct,tax id on their payment processors um,and that's exactly what happened with,with the audit with the client we have,now and uh this one actually worked out,in a in a perfect way where they're,getting audited in a year that they,weren't our client,we onboarded them and,one of the first things that came up was,oh you know about a weekend they're like,oh we're getting audited now for 2018.,and this happened about like four months,ago yeah very recent,so,we the irs checked it it was that exact,situation that happened also they,weren't accounting for inventory,correctly which is a whole rabbit hole i,don't know if you want to get into it,but it looked bad i thought this client,was gonna have to pay like 200 000 and,back taxes and penalties and interest,and all kinds of stuff but what wound up,happening is exactly what i described in,the beginning,they did their own bookkeeping and,shortcutted it,and and they were so incorrect on their,income to the point where,uh and this is not concluded yet but we,recalculated the tax with the irs and,they actually overpaid the tax okay in,an unfavorable way so even with the,unfavorable changes that the irs had for,them to make if we had our favorable,changes and redid the tax return now you,know they were in a refund position so,the irs is kind of in a situation that,and nothing to do with working with us,it was just,luck in the drive you know okay so,cool so what do you think the biggest,mistake that non-specialized accountants,make who you know obviously e-commerce,isn't their main field what mistakes are,they making that you know maybe you're,providing that,gives you that edge,so i feel like a lot of e-commerce and,entrepreneurs have it backwards actually,where,you know there's a tax person and a,bookkeeping person right and people,over-value the tax person,and don't value the bookkeeper enough or,i actually think it's backwards because,you know if you have an account that,understands,taxes for businesses it's not hard to do,a tax return even for an econ business,but the bookkeeping for e-commerce,businesses is quite complex because it's,a high-volume transaction business you,can have thousands of transactions a,month easily yeah easily,so accountants just by nature are,trained to reconcile each and every,transaction,and,what happens is if they're doing that,they're doing that work in quickbooks,manually and that work is being done,automatically through shopify amazon,paypal etc so that work is being,duplicated so more seasoned e-commerce,accounting firms will look at you and,say okay,shopify paypal whatever your payment,processors or sales channels are all of,the data lives there as long as,quickbooks matches that data in terms of,sales we don't have to redo the,accounting for that we have to just make,sure the data matches exactly and we're,accurate right,and then you do traditional accounting,for all the rest of your transactions,what you're paying your va's what you're,paying for facebook ads what you're,paying for fulfillment you know software,so on and so forth so that's where we,have a competitive advantage where we,come in and we when we take over work,from other accounts we're like we can,barely log into your quickbooks account,because there's so many transactions,that you're pushing through there that's,just not necessary and most of the time,it's not accurate because it's just such,a high volume of work to reconcile,thousands of transactions per month okay,so when do you think it's the right time,to bring an accountant on board,i think,i'm gonna break this down to the tax,professional and then more hands-on like,cfo accounting sales tax type services,so if you're 0 to 20k in sales in a year,i think you're in a position where you,can get a cheap accountant or do the tax,return yourself on turbo tax do your own,bookkeeping because your tax risk is,very likely zero or very low,once you cross twenty thousand dollars,in sales in a year it's very very likely,that you're going to get a tax form from,your payment processor so,that's when i recommend at the very,least hiring a tax person to do your tax,return,now,once you're at a level where you're,doing significant sales and we define,that as 30 000 or more per month,consistently,that's when i recommend you get someone,to come in and do sales taxes do tax,planning handle your bookkeeping do tax,returns do the whole thing,because you have a lot of tax risk you,have sales tax risk you know bookkeeping,is important to your business decisions,it's just when you're making a lot of,money there's a lot of things that could,go wrong so you know having a good,account that understands your business,specifically can help mitigate,that risk,so chris you just brought so much value,i want to let the audience know like who,do you work with and,for you to plug yourself so different,people can go out and actually hire you,for your services,right now we work exclusively with,american sellers where it kills me every,day i really want to work with the,foreign entrepreneurs and we're working,on that we're working on affiliate deals,of foreign e-commerce accounting firms,and stuff that's all in the works,right now we work with american,entrepreneurs meaning if you're an,american citizen or living in the u.s,and you're consistently doing 30 000 or,more per month in sales okay then you,know we have a lead form we'll give you,the link for it you just fill out give,us your information and we'll reach out,to you to schedule a free consultation,so,that's one side of the market if you're,an ecommerce seller it's really crushing,it now for the foreign entrepreneurs or,also the beginners as well you know when,we first came out with our firm we,weren't able to help those people at all,and that was a big pain point for me,because i want to i want to help out in,the community and give back,so what we did was we came out with a,course and before i scare anyone off,it's a 97 course it's four hours of,content and i'm not making any money,from plugging anything here so yeah it's,it's 97 bucks we'll give you a discount,code and to be honest with you it's four,hours of content boring as heck about,accounting and taxes but it's very,structured to e-commerce businesses,specifically so it's everything you need,to know whether you're a foreign,entrepreneur or american entrepreneur,has all kinds of stuff in there covering,sales taxes tax planning tax returns you,know bookkeeping there's also a quiz in,there to,uh test your account now to see if,they're the type of account that will be,strategic,taxes yeah that's uh that's how we work,with the foreign entrepreneurs and the,beginner entrepreneurs for now and then,for the more seasoned entrepreneurs that,um are making money we do free,consultation and if we're a great fit,for each other you know we can come in,and work together and you'll send me,these links so i can plug them in the,video yes yeah guys so i'm gonna leave,all the links to work with chris um i,think you know if you're in e-commerce,and you're crushing it right now,accounting and you know being on top of,your taxes is,so important if not vital so definitely,uh reach out to chris i think he brought,some tremendous value today do you have,anything you want to tell the audience,or you know leave it on a final note,with everyone,nope uh that's pretty much it just,grateful to be on the channel a big fan,of yours and yeah best of luck everybody,thank you for coming on man it's great,to have you thanks

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