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NYS Re-Sale or Exemption Certificates

NYS Re-Sale or Exemption Certificates

by Richard Margolis, Richard Margolis Photography

I recently had an educational encounter with the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance that might benefit others.

I have a Certificate of Authority to Collect Sales Tax in New York. That means that I can collect sales tax and pass it on to New York State Dept. of Taxation and Finance and am exempt from paying sales tax on photographic supplies. Material that I buy that is used in the production of the products I sell are exempt from sales tax, because sales tax only has to be paid once.

B & H Photo-Video, one of the companies I use for photographic equipment and supplies, asked for a new Re-Sale or Exemption Certificate for my purchases, and included a web site where I could fill out the form online.

I tried the online option but could not figure out how to make that work so I printed out the form and mailed it to them. I have used the NYS ST-120 for years and it had always been accepted. But B&H (actually their tax accounting agent) rejected the first form because I did not fill in the name and address for the Vendor. Anyone who knows me can probably predict my reaction, and would be right. An hour later I did print out a new copy and filled in the information with the address for the B&H Super Store on 34th Street (a “must see” cultural attraction in NYC) and mailed it again.

It was rejected also, because the accounting firm said it was the wrong form. They required the NYS ST-121 that I had never heard of and none of my suppliers had ever asked for. I called my accountant and she offered to research that for me but could not help. Then I called a friend in NYC who does similar work to me and he said he has always used the ST-120 and did not know what I was talking about.

Instead of ignoring this problem and using Calumet Photo Video in Chicago for supplies, I called the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance and after a fairly short hold time talked to a helpful agent who read through the instructions for both the ST-120 and ST-121 and pointed out that the ST-120 is for material being resold in their present form, while the ST-121 is for material being incorporated into a new product. He said that chemicals, paper, film etc. being used to make photographs would be exempt from Sales Tax if I used the ST-121. If I was reselling the photographic material in its original form, as a retail store would do, then the ST-120 would be appropriate.

The ST-121 form can be downloaded at http://www.tax.state.ny.us/pdf/current_forms/st/st121_fill_in.pdf

In Part 1, Check the box for Exemption A, in “Part 1 — Exemptions related to production” and fill in the Exemption #, that the Department of Taxation and Finance provides.

(A) Machinery and equipment, parts, tools, and supplies used or consumed in the production of tangible personal property for sale or in the production of gas, electricity, refrigeration, or steam, for sale.
Enter Certificate of Authority number here.

On a related topic:
A couple of years ago I tried to avoid paying sales tax on office supplies that I use in the studio, such as envelopes I use to mail prints and DVD and CD disks, and both Staples and Office Max refused to accept my “Re-Sale Certificate”. Perhaps they would now accept an ST-121, but I have not explored that yet.

I’d be interested to know whether other photographers pay sales tax on office supplies and non-photographic supplies used in their studios.

Read More…


Henry Posner November 23, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Thank you for this feedback. I am sorry you experienced any difficulty or any inconvenience. If this matter is not yet resolved to your satisfaction, please e-mail me at henryp[at]bhphoto.com. if I cannot assist you directly I will share your situation with those here who can.

Henry Posner
B&H Photo-Video

Richard July 11, 2011 at 11:28 am

Sorry, you can’t do it. I ran a retail store for 35 years and anything that is not directly resold you must pay sales tax on. i.e. cash register, any paper supplies, tools, services used, mailing supplies.

Richard Horn April 25, 2013 at 11:26 am

Many suppliers of paper, envelopes, ink cartridges, such as Staples and Office Max require a tax exempt card for the state that you are purchasing the material in. The material is to be used in your business (ST-119.1) or to be sold as purchased (ST-120) or incorporated in an end product (ST-121).
This card can be obtained from the corporate tax department of the respective supplier. The card will then allow the user to buy subject materials tax free. Contact any retail store and they will give you the necessary information on how to contact the respective corporate tax department to obtain the card. I did this and it works.
Richard Horn

Dave May 16, 2013 at 9:40 pm

ST-121 states “Machinery and equipment, parts, tools, and
supplies used in the production of tangible personal property for sale”. This includes software/photography/computer gear (ie. “tools”) purchased from B&H because they used in the production the final product. Agreed that items such as cash registers, office furniture, etc, you would have to pay sales tax on.

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