Just like with offline commerce, governments require online merchants to collect sales tax on orders where it’s applicable. BigCommerce allows you to set up your tax configuration manually using a basic tax setup as well as connect with a third-party tax service to automate your tax configuration.
Your store’s tax settings allow you to configure tax options and tax display settings which work in conjunction with your tax services to calculate and display tax on the storefront and control panel.
Go to Settings › Tax, then scroll down and click Edit next to Tax settings to get started.
The tax label is a generic name that describes the type of tax applied to orders in your store. This will be shown next to prices that include tax (per your display settings) and when taxes on carts, orders, and invoices are shown as one summarized line item. Some suggested values include Sales Tax, GST, or just Tax.
Prices entered with tax
This setting applies to all prices entered in the control panel, such as products, discounts, static shipping methods, and fixed rate shipping for products.
- When Yes, I will enter prices inclusive of tax is selected, then all prices entered into the control panel are treated as inclusive of tax.
- When No, I will enter prices exclusive of tax is selected, then all prices entered into the control panel are treated as exclusive of tax.
This setting works in conjunction with other tax settings, including Default Tax Zone, Tax Display Settings, and Tax Zone Display Settings to determine how prices are calculated and displayed in relation to tax.
See Tax Services for more information on how taxes are calculated by our different tax services in relation to this setting.
The Prices entered with tax setting affects all prices. You cannot enter prices inclusive of tax for some prices and exclusive for others.
When calculating the taxes on sales made outside this storefront’s default tax zone
This setting only appears and is applicable when Yes, I will enter prices inclusive of tax is selected for Prices Entered with Tax (see above).
- When Update product prices to reflect applicable tax rates is selected, the store will automatically calculate product prices using the tax rates that apply to the shopper’s location. These are determined by your configured tax zones.
- When Keep product prices as entered is selected, the calculated tax amount is still based on the shopper’s location, but the product price is unaffected. Use this option if you prefer to have consistent prices across multiple tax zones.
Fallback tax applies when your enabled automatic tax provider cannot be reached, or when it returns an invalid response. For these instances, you have the option of:
- charging a flat 10% rate
- using your store's basic tax configuration. This may provide more accurate tax calculations than the flat 10% rate and may help save time on remedying orders with incorrect tax. Note that if basic taxes have not been set up, then the fallback tax rate will effectively be 0%.
- disabling fallback tax completely (the customer will not be able to check out). This is helpful if you prefer to not take the order rather than manually adjust orders or issue refunds for incorrect tax.
This setting determines which address to use when applying a tax zone to a price when Basic Tax applies. Most stores charge tax based on the customer’s destination address. However, you can change this to the customer’s billing address, or your store's shipping origin address.
How are digital products taxed? Digital products are always taxed based on the order’s billing address, regardless of the address type selected.
Shipping Tax Class
Gift Wrapping Tax Class
Shopper Tax Behavior
This setting allows you to choose the tax estimation and tax display settings your shoppers will see before they confirm the shipping address during checkout.
- When Use geolocation to assign a tax zone until shoppers enter a destination address is selected, a tax zone is assigned to shoppers based on their GeoIP. When geolocation is enabled, prices on the storefront are displayed based on the Tax price display settings you have configured in the tax zone applied.
- When Use default shopper tax zone until shoppers enter a destination address is selected, the default tax zone is assigned from the drop-down menu and your storefront will use the display settings for that zone.
Note that geolocation only works with tax zones you have set up in your store, and does not override any tax zone settings you have set up for customer groups.
Using the geolocation feature requires the GeoIP of your shoppers. This may impact your compliance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) privacy regulations, and may require you to obtain additional consent from shoppers. You can learn more on the GDPR website and our article Understanding the CCPA.
Tax Display Settings
Tax display settings determine how prices are displayed in relation to tax within the control panel and invoices, and whether taxes are displayed as a single line item or broken down in cart and checkout, as well as on the order and invoices.
For more information on how to configure tax display settings for prices displayed on product listing pages, product detail pages, cart, and checkout see Basic Tax Setup.
Prices within control panel
This setting manages how pricing is displayed within the control panel. You can show line-items and subtotals including or excluding tax.
Prices on invoices
This setting manages how pricing is shown on the storefront order details page and the emailed and printed order invoice. You can show line-items and subtotals including or excluding tax, or you can select to use tax zone display settings. This option allows line-items and subtotals to be displayed according to the tax zone that the customer's shipping address falls under, and requires Basic Tax Setup.
Tax charges in cart and checkout
On the cart and checkout pages, when multiple taxes are applied to an order, you can choose whether they should appear summed on a single line, or if each rate should be broken down on its own line. Depending on where you do business, it may be required that you break down the tax display into separate rates; check with a tax professional if you’re unsure.
Tax charges on orders and invoices
On customer order detail pages and invoices, when multiple taxes are applied to an order, you can choose whether they should appear summed on a single line, or if each rate should be broken down on its own line. Depending on where you do business, it may be required that you break down the tax display into separate rates; check with a tax professional if you’re unsure.
This setting allows you to add and edit tax properties on products. Tax properties are additional pieces of data which are passed to your automatic tax provider whenever a tax quote is generated in the cart or checkout for a particular product. This allows for industry specific tax rules, configured within the automatic tax provider’s dashboard, to be applied whenever tax is calculated for shoppers.
How are tax properties different from tax codes? A tax code is a single code that tax providers use to invoke specific rules when calculating tax on a product. In contrast, tax properties are fields that contain information about product specifics. Tax providers use these fields to factor product specifics, such as alcohol percentage or net volume, into their calculations.
For more information on locating tax property fields when editing products, see Automatic Tax Setup.
The display name labels the type of tax property to be applied to selected products in your store. This text may be visible to shoppers, depending on your theme, settings, and tax jurisdiction. For example, Alcohol Percentage.
This is where you will need to add the ID for this tax property. Contact your tax provider for more information on supported values and functions. For example, A-123456789.
This is where you can add an optional internal tooltip for users to determine whether the tax property should be applied to a specific product or not. For example, “Applicable for all alcoholic beverages”.
You can set up Basic Tax in the control panel to configure and manage taxes manually, you can also set up Automatic Tax with a third-party tax service to help automate calculation and tax document submission to the tax service.
Basic Tax and automatic tax services apply to prices at different times throughout the customer experience and they differ in how they calculate prices and tax, we go into this detail below.
When Tax Services Apply
Regardless if basic tax or an automatic tax service is enabled within the control panel, basic tax will always apply to prices on product listing and product display pages. Additionally, basic tax will apply to prices on the cart and checkout before a destination address has been provided by your customer.
If basic tax is enabled within the control panel, then it will also apply to prices after a destination address has been provided by your customer.
Even when an automatic tax service is enabled within the control panel, basic tax will still apply to prices on product listing and product display pages as well as on cart and checkout before a destination address has been provided by your customer.
If an automatic tax service is enabled within the control panel, when your customer provides a destination address, then the automatic tax service will apply to prices in cart and checkout.
Note that basic tax will still apply to prices on product listing and product display pages, even after the customer has provides a destination address and the automatic tax service has been applied.
How Prices and Tax are Calculated
Basic Tax and automatic tax services calculate prices and tax differently when a destination address is provided by your customer.
When a destination address is provided by your customer, basic tax calculates prices and tax by first removing the tax amount that was applied by the Default Tax Zone. Basic Tax then applies the Tax Rates from the Tax Zone that corresponds with the destination address provided. If no tax zone corresponds with the destination address then the default tax zone is used.
Importantly, this means if you enter prices inclusive of tax, a potential outcome is that the final tax inclusive price is different to the tax inclusive price that you originally entered into the control panel.
When a destination address is provided by your customer and an automatic tax service is enabled, prices entered are kept static.
This means if you enter prices exclusive of tax, then the tax amount returned by the automatic tax service will be added to the tax exclusive price. Should you enter prices inclusive of tax, then the tax amount returned by the automatic tax service will be deducted from the tax inclusive price.
Can I make certain customers tax-exempt?
Yes. If you’re using a basic tax setup, you can use customer groups to specify which customers are exempt, then configure your tax classes to select which customer groups they should and shouldn’t apply to (by default, tax classes apply to all customers). The customer groups feature is limited to select BigCommerce plans.
If you’re using an automatic tax setup, you can use the Tax Exempt Code field to identify tax-exempt customers. See Making Customers Tax-Exempt for more information.
My sales tax amount is off by a cent. Is something wrong?
Basic Tax calculation is done at the item line level. Resulting line item amounts higher than half a cent are rounded up to the nearest cent (for example, $4.495 rounds up to $4.50). This can cause a discrepancy when comparing to tax calculated at the subtotal level.
Certain automatic tax providers, such as Avalara AvaTax, can be configured to round tax at the item line level or the order level.
Why are some shoppers not seeing prices displayed with the correct tax estimation even though geolocation is enabled?
The shopper’s geolocation may be unavailable, or you may need to configure the required tax zone.
Can I use the geolocation feature for price display and still comply with privacy laws?
Before you enable geolocation on your store, check with the rules set forth in the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to ensure your store will comply with laws regarding personal information.
Do the UK eCommerce VAT reforms coinciding with Brexit apply to my business and if so, how?
See our blog post for more information on the businesses that may be affected and the potential changes required to address the reforms.