2007/01: Ask Me
Q&A 15 years ago No Comments

I am a very interested in obtaining my own license to purchase furniture, fixtures and home decor for my own use and not as a business. I buy and sell homes and would like to be able to make purchase on my own in the design district without going through someone with a license. What is the quickest and easiest step to getting this license to make purchases”

(submitted by Mary Jo L.)

As everybody wants a “deal,” this is a common question. And since I have been collecting state sales tax every month since 1977, I feel that I am qualified to answer.

Though you did not say, let”s suppose that you are in Texas, as it is what I know best. (I would assume, however, that this advice would apply to you in any state.)

The first step is to call the state Sales Tax office and find out what the procedure is to get a state sales tax number. In Texas, the phone toll-free phone number is 1.800.252.5555, or you can research their very efficient website, www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/sales.

Once you secure this sales tax permit, then you can purchase goods from showrooms” if they will sell to you. Someone who is buying for their home may have a much tougher time than, say, a Registered Interior Designer [RID] who is a member of a professional organization such as ASID or IIDA. It just depends on the showroom. The showrooms I deal with protect the “trade” and favor designers by offering them deeper discounts. You will find out quickly who will sell to you and who will not.

Years ago I had to show an invoice of over $10,000 to gain a pass to the Dallas World Trade Center showrooms and put up a deposit to collect State Sales Tax. I believe now that you simply need your tax ID paperwork, but if you don”t have a membership card from one of the professional organizations, you will most likely need some other proof that you are “legitimate” ” maybe something like stationery and a business card, a copy of a business property lease, or pay-stubs with the company”s name on it. Each trade center is a little different, so you”ll have to check with them each individually if you ever want to purchase somewhere else.

The ultimate goal is of course for all the showrooms to sell, sell, sell and the tax guys to collect all the tax they can with as much fear as they can muster up to give the tax payers. I, personally, have made minor math errors and have incurred the wrath verbally of the nice folds in Austin [the seat of Texas government]. When I explained that it was only on the city tax that I had erred, they backed down instantly, changed their tune. I gladly paid my $1.50 penalty on the $30.00 error.

A word of caution: Heaven help the tax ID number holders who fill out the state sales tax forms and send them to the showrooms in order not to pay tax, and then do not pay the tax to the State Comptroller’s office. Texas audits the companies who have tax certificates on file from purchasers of goods. This agency can shut you down and/or impose significant fines if you do not pay the tax owed. Not fun.