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Maine Sales Tax Guide 2024: Compliance, Rates, and Regulations for Businesses

By 

Updated 

January 11, 2024

 Reviewed by 

Maine has statewide sales tax rate of 5.5% applies to retail selling most tangible personal property and some services. Retailers collect the tax from customers at the point of purchase. Registered sellers, marketplace facilitators, and marketplace sellers with annual Maine sales exceeding $100,000 must collect and remit sales tax. 

This guide provides an overview of Maine sales tax requirements, rates, and regulations businesses need to know.

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Maine Sales Tax

State taxing authority Maine Revenue Services (MRS)
Maine base sales tax rate 5.5%
Local tax rates None
2023 Maine sales tax rate 5.5%
Tax threshold $100,000 in annual gross revenue
Website www.maine.gov/revenue/taxes/sales-use-service-provider-tax
Tax Line (207) 624-9693

Maine sales tax rates & calculations in 2023

The Maine sales tax rate in 2023 is 5.5%. This comprises a base rate of 5.5% with no additional local rates. The state sales tax rate applies uniformly across the state.

Recent tax rate changes in Maine

The Maine state sales tax rate of 5.5% has remained the same.

FAQs

How do you calculate Maine sales tax?

To calculate Maine sales tax, multiply the 5.5% tax rate by the purchase price. For example, if you purchase an item for $100, you would calculate 5.5% of $100 to arrive at $5.50 of sales tax.

What’s the difference between destination-based and origin-based sales tax states?

Maine is a destination-based sales tax state. This means the sales tax rate depends on where the customer receives the goods or services. The sales tax rate in origin-based states depends on the seller's location.

Is Maine a streamlined sales tax state?

Maine is currently not a member of the Streamlined Sales Tax States. 

Sales tax nexus in Maine

Type of nexus Threshold
Physical presence Any physical presence, such as an office, warehouse, employees, or property in Maine, creates a sales tax nexus
Economic nexus $100,000 or more in retail sales or 200 or more separate retail transactions in the prior or current calendar year create an economic nexus
Nexus with marketplaces Facilitating $100,000 or more in Maine sales for marketplace sellers creates a marketplace nexus

Exemptions from sales tax in Maine

Maine provides sales tax exemptions for items like grocery staples for home consumption, medicines, agricultural supplies, manufacturing equipment and supplies, returnable containers, and certain government/nonprofit purchases. There are over 100 exemptions listed in the tax statutes and rules.

FAQs

Are groceries taxable in Maine?

No, grocery is considered staples for human consumption and is not taxed in Maine. This includes most basic unprepared food items. However, tax still applies to prepared products.

Is clothing taxable in Maine?

Yes, clothing and footwear are generally taxable in Maine. There is no exemption for clothing or shoes.

Are digital products taxable in Maine?

Yes, digital products, including digital books, music, movies, etc., are taxable in Maine when delivered electronically. The tax treatment is the same as the tangible version.

Is software-as-a-service (saas) taxable in Maine?

Cloud software and software-as-a-service transactions are not specifically taxable in Maine. However, prewritten software delivered electronically is taxable.

Are services taxable in Maine?

Maine does not tax most services. However, a 6% service provider tax applies to a few specific services like cable/satellite, telecoms, and rentals.

Excise taxes in Maine (alcohol, tobacco, gasoline, fuel, marijuana)

Maine has excise taxes on:

  • Alcoholic beverages: Low alcohol spirits, as well as wine, have an excise tax of $1.24/gallon
  • Tobacco: Cigarette tax is $2 per pack of 20 cigarettes plus a sales tax of 43% of the wholesale price. An excise tax also applies to other tobacco products.
  • Marijuana: 10% excise tax on adult use of marijuana and marijuana products
  • Gasoline: 30¢ per gallon

Food and beverage tax in Maine

While groceries are exempt from sales tax in Maine, prepared food and drinks sold for consumption on the premises or by establishments licensed for on-premises liquor consumption are taxed at 8% rather than the standard 5.5% sales tax rate.

Remote sellers in Maine

Remote sellers with no physical presence in Maine but over $100,000 in annual retail sales delivered into the state must register and collect Maine sales tax. Maine expanded its remote seller nexus requirements effective July 1, 2018, consistent with the South Dakota v. Wayfair Supreme Court decision.

Discretionary taxes in Maine (local sales taxes)

Maine does not allow any local option sales taxes. The 5.5% state sales tax rate applies uniformly with no local add-ons.

Collecting sales tax in Maine

Let’s look at the steps to collect sales tax in Maine now.

How to collect sales tax in Maine if you are not based in Maine (Out-of-State)

Even if you do not have physical operations in Maine, you may still meet the economic nexus threshold requiring sales tax collection if you have over $100,000 in annual retail sales delivered into the state.

The most common ways out-of-state sellers meet Maine's nexus thresholds requiring sales tax collection and registration are:

  • Having over $100,000 in retail sales shipped to Maine customers in the prior or current calendar year
  • Facilitating over $100,000 in sales as a marketplace for Maine marketplace sellers
  • Having representatives, employees, contractors, and trade show attendees conducting business activities in the state
  • Owning property or assets that are being leased or rented to Maine customers

There are also notification requirements for specific out-of-state liquor and automobile drop shipments into Maine.

Register online for a Maine sales tax permit even if you do not have physical operations in the state. This allows you to conduct business legally and collect and remit sales tax in Maine.

Should you collect sales tax on shipping charges in Maine?

If three conditions are met, shipping charges for tangible personal property are excluded from the Maine sales tax base:

  1. The shipped items are delivered directly to the customer
  2. Delivery is made by common carrier or US mail
  3. Shipping charges are separately stated from the product cost

So generally, separately stated shipping charges would not be subject to Maine sales tax when delivered directly to the customer. However, handling fees and combined charges would still be taxable.

Filing and paying sales taxes in Maine

Businesses making taxable sales in Maine must register for a sales tax permit, file regular sales, and use tax returns, even if no tax was collected during the period. Returns must be filed electronically monthly, semiannual, or annually, depending on the anticipated Maine sales tax liability.

Payment of tax due must be remitted when the return is filed. Sales taxes collected are deemed to be held in trust until remitted. Business owners can be held personally liable for unpaid trust fund taxes. Electronic payment via ACH debit is required for taxpayers meeting certain thresholds.

Sales tax return filing schedule and due dates in Maine

Maine Revenue Services determines the filing frequency for sales and use tax returns based on a taxpayer's anticipated taxable sales and prior year tax liabilities.

Monthly returns are due by the 15th day of the following month. This includes taxpayers with an expected annual liability of $600 or more monthly. New businesses may estimate their expected tax by assigning the correct filing frequency.

Period Due Date
January February 15
February March 15
March April 15
April May 15
May June 15
June July 15
July August 15
August September 15
September October 15
October November 15
November December 15
December January 15

Semiannual returns cover January 1 to June 30, with a due date of July 15 and July 1 to December 31, due on January 15

This includes taxpayers with an annual liability of at least $1,200 but less than $600 monthly.

Annual returns encompass the entire calendar year from January 1 to December 31, with a due date of February 15 of the following year

This includes taxpayers with less than $1,200 per year in sales tax liability.

Even with no taxable sales activity, a $0 return must still be filed for each applicable reporting period.

Filing penalties in Maine

Penalties for not paying Maine sales tax can include:

  • Failure to file penalty: $25 or 10% of unpaid taxes
  • Failure to pay penalty: 1% per month up to 25%
  • Negligence/fraud penalty: $25 or 25% of due taxes
  • Substantial underpayment penalty: $5 or 1% per month up to $25 or 25%

When are returns due in Maine?

Returns must be filed by the 15th of the month following the end of each reporting period. Semiannual returns are due July 15 and January 15. Annual returns must be filed by February 15.

FAQs

What are the Maine sales tax due dates?

Monthly returns must be filed by the 15th of the following month. Semiannual returns are due July 15 and January 15. Annual returns must be filed by February 15.

I didn’t collect any Maine sales tax during this period. Do I still need to file a return?

Every retailer must file a $0 return for each open period, even if no sales tax was collected. This indicates compliance.

Can I get an extension on filing my Maine sales tax return?

Yes, file an extension request by the original due date. An extension provides additional filing time but does not extend the tax payment deadline.

Can I amend a Maine sales tax return?

Yes, file an amended return through your online account to correct errors or change values from a previously filed return. You must explain why the amendment is necessary.

What is the penalty for filing and paying Maine sales tax late?

A 10% failure to file penalty applies to late-filed returns. 1% monthly failure to pay fines accrues up to 25% of unpaid tax. Total penalties cannot exceed 25% of the tax due.

Audit and appeals process in Maine

The Maine sales tax audit process begins when a business is randomly selected for audit or due to certain risk factors. The auditor will review the company's books, records, and previously filed tax returns.

If the audit identifies discrepancies resulting in additional tax due, the auditor issues a Notice of Assessment. The business then has 60 days to file a written appeal to challenge the assessment.

If unsatisfied after appeals, the company can petition for reconsideration or file an appeal with the Maine Superior Court.

Maine sales tax audit process

The typical steps in a Maine sales tax audit are:

  1. Receive audit notification letter
  2. Provide requested records
  3. Review preliminary findings
  4. Receive Notice of Assessment
  5. File administrative appeal within 60 days
  6. Attend appeals conference
  7. Receive final determination
  8. Pay an assessment or file a court appeal

What to expect during the audit?

The auditor will review sales records, purchase invoices, exemption certificates, bank statements, tax returns, and other documents to verify proper tax was paid. Expect to provide records covering a 3-year lookback period.

After the audit – Appealing the results

If assessment results are unsatisfactory, first file an administrative appeal within 60 days of receiving the Notice of Assessment. The Maine Appeals Office reviews this. Further requests can then be made to Maine Superior Court.

Contesting audit findings in Maine helps resolve discrepancies and clarify any confusing issues. It also provides the opportunity to present additional records or documentation.

Sales tax registration in Maine

Here are critical steps for registering for a Maine sales tax permit:

How to register for sales tax in Maine

To register for a sales tax permit in Maine, file online. Provide your business information, including expected sales volume to receive your registration certificate and assigned filing frequency.

You will then begin collecting, reporting, and remitting Maine sales tax on taxable transactions. Use sales tax software to simplify compliance.

Registration requirements for online sellers in Maine

  • Exceed $100,000 in annual retail sales shipped to Maine
  • Facilitate over $100,000 in sales in Maine for marketplace sellers
  • Have property, employees, or other physical presence

Marketplaces and platforms boosting taxable sales in Maine may also have registration and collection requirements.

Cost of registration for a Maine sales tax license

There is no cost to register for a Maine sales tax permit. Registration can be completed online for free. Filing fees depend on tax due.

Agencies to register within Maine

Maine Revenue Services handles Maine sales tax registration. No other state or local registration is required.

More Information & Contacts for Maine Sales Tax

There you have it—an in-depth guide on Maine's sales tax system. Need help filing taxes for your ecommerce store? Schedule a demo with Numeral now.

Maine Sales Tax

State taxing authority Maine Revenue Services (MRS)
Maine base sales tax rate 5.5%
Local tax rates None
2023 Maine sales tax rate 5.5%
Tax threshold $100,000 in annual gross revenue
Website www.maine.gov/revenue/taxes/sales-use-service-provider-tax
Tax Line (207) 624-9693

Maine sales tax rates & calculations in 2023

The Maine sales tax rate in 2023 is 5.5%. This comprises a base rate of 5.5% with no additional local rates. The state sales tax rate applies uniformly across the state.

Recent tax rate changes in Maine

The Maine state sales tax rate of 5.5% has remained the same.

FAQs

How do you calculate Maine sales tax?

To calculate Maine sales tax, multiply the 5.5% tax rate by the purchase price. For example, if you purchase an item for $100, you would calculate 5.5% of $100 to arrive at $5.50 of sales tax.

What’s the difference between destination-based and origin-based sales tax states?

Maine is a destination-based sales tax state. This means the sales tax rate depends on where the customer receives the goods or services. The sales tax rate in origin-based states depends on the seller's location.

Is Maine a streamlined sales tax state?

Maine is currently not a member of the Streamlined Sales Tax States. 

Sales tax nexus in Maine

Type of nexus Threshold
Physical presence Any physical presence, such as an office, warehouse, employees, or property in Maine, creates a sales tax nexus
Economic nexus $100,000 or more in retail sales or 200 or more separate retail transactions in the prior or current calendar year create an economic nexus
Nexus with marketplaces Facilitating $100,000 or more in Maine sales for marketplace sellers creates a marketplace nexus

Exemptions from sales tax in Maine

Maine provides sales tax exemptions for items like grocery staples for home consumption, medicines, agricultural supplies, manufacturing equipment and supplies, returnable containers, and certain government/nonprofit purchases. There are over 100 exemptions listed in the tax statutes and rules.

FAQs

Are groceries taxable in Maine?

No, grocery is considered staples for human consumption and is not taxed in Maine. This includes most basic unprepared food items. However, tax still applies to prepared products.

Is clothing taxable in Maine?

Yes, clothing and footwear are generally taxable in Maine. There is no exemption for clothing or shoes.

Are digital products taxable in Maine?

Yes, digital products, including digital books, music, movies, etc., are taxable in Maine when delivered electronically. The tax treatment is the same as the tangible version.

Is software-as-a-service (saas) taxable in Maine?

Cloud software and software-as-a-service transactions are not specifically taxable in Maine. However, prewritten software delivered electronically is taxable.

Are services taxable in Maine?

Maine does not tax most services. However, a 6% service provider tax applies to a few specific services like cable/satellite, telecoms, and rentals.

Excise taxes in Maine (alcohol, tobacco, gasoline, fuel, marijuana)

Maine has excise taxes on:

  • Alcoholic beverages: Low alcohol spirits, as well as wine, have an excise tax of $1.24/gallon
  • Tobacco: Cigarette tax is $2 per pack of 20 cigarettes plus a sales tax of 43% of the wholesale price. An excise tax also applies to other tobacco products.
  • Marijuana: 10% excise tax on adult use of marijuana and marijuana products
  • Gasoline: 30¢ per gallon

Food and beverage tax in Maine

While groceries are exempt from sales tax in Maine, prepared food and drinks sold for consumption on the premises or by establishments licensed for on-premises liquor consumption are taxed at 8% rather than the standard 5.5% sales tax rate.

Remote sellers in Maine

Remote sellers with no physical presence in Maine but over $100,000 in annual retail sales delivered into the state must register and collect Maine sales tax. Maine expanded its remote seller nexus requirements effective July 1, 2018, consistent with the South Dakota v. Wayfair Supreme Court decision.

Discretionary taxes in Maine (local sales taxes)

Maine does not allow any local option sales taxes. The 5.5% state sales tax rate applies uniformly with no local add-ons.

Collecting sales tax in Maine

Let’s look at the steps to collect sales tax in Maine now.

How to collect sales tax in Maine if you are not based in Maine (Out-of-State)

Even if you do not have physical operations in Maine, you may still meet the economic nexus threshold requiring sales tax collection if you have over $100,000 in annual retail sales delivered into the state.

The most common ways out-of-state sellers meet Maine's nexus thresholds requiring sales tax collection and registration are:

  • Having over $100,000 in retail sales shipped to Maine customers in the prior or current calendar year
  • Facilitating over $100,000 in sales as a marketplace for Maine marketplace sellers
  • Having representatives, employees, contractors, and trade show attendees conducting business activities in the state
  • Owning property or assets that are being leased or rented to Maine customers

There are also notification requirements for specific out-of-state liquor and automobile drop shipments into Maine.

Register online for a Maine sales tax permit even if you do not have physical operations in the state. This allows you to conduct business legally and collect and remit sales tax in Maine.

Should you collect sales tax on shipping charges in Maine?

If three conditions are met, shipping charges for tangible personal property are excluded from the Maine sales tax base:

  1. The shipped items are delivered directly to the customer
  2. Delivery is made by common carrier or US mail
  3. Shipping charges are separately stated from the product cost

So generally, separately stated shipping charges would not be subject to Maine sales tax when delivered directly to the customer. However, handling fees and combined charges would still be taxable.

Filing and paying sales taxes in Maine

Businesses making taxable sales in Maine must register for a sales tax permit, file regular sales, and use tax returns, even if no tax was collected during the period. Returns must be filed electronically monthly, semiannual, or annually, depending on the anticipated Maine sales tax liability.

Payment of tax due must be remitted when the return is filed. Sales taxes collected are deemed to be held in trust until remitted. Business owners can be held personally liable for unpaid trust fund taxes. Electronic payment via ACH debit is required for taxpayers meeting certain thresholds.

Sales tax return filing schedule and due dates in Maine

Maine Revenue Services determines the filing frequency for sales and use tax returns based on a taxpayer's anticipated taxable sales and prior year tax liabilities.

Monthly returns are due by the 15th day of the following month. This includes taxpayers with an expected annual liability of $600 or more monthly. New businesses may estimate their expected tax by assigning the correct filing frequency.

Period Due Date
January February 15
February March 15
March April 15
April May 15
May June 15
June July 15
July August 15
August September 15
September October 15
October November 15
November December 15
December January 15

Semiannual returns cover January 1 to June 30, with a due date of July 15 and July 1 to December 31, due on January 15

This includes taxpayers with an annual liability of at least $1,200 but less than $600 monthly.

Annual returns encompass the entire calendar year from January 1 to December 31, with a due date of February 15 of the following year

This includes taxpayers with less than $1,200 per year in sales tax liability.

Even with no taxable sales activity, a $0 return must still be filed for each applicable reporting period.

Filing penalties in Maine

Penalties for not paying Maine sales tax can include:

  • Failure to file penalty: $25 or 10% of unpaid taxes
  • Failure to pay penalty: 1% per month up to 25%
  • Negligence/fraud penalty: $25 or 25% of due taxes
  • Substantial underpayment penalty: $5 or 1% per month up to $25 or 25%

When are returns due in Maine?

Returns must be filed by the 15th of the month following the end of each reporting period. Semiannual returns are due July 15 and January 15. Annual returns must be filed by February 15.

FAQs

What are the Maine sales tax due dates?

Monthly returns must be filed by the 15th of the following month. Semiannual returns are due July 15 and January 15. Annual returns must be filed by February 15.

I didn’t collect any Maine sales tax during this period. Do I still need to file a return?

Every retailer must file a $0 return for each open period, even if no sales tax was collected. This indicates compliance.

Can I get an extension on filing my Maine sales tax return?

Yes, file an extension request by the original due date. An extension provides additional filing time but does not extend the tax payment deadline.

Can I amend a Maine sales tax return?

Yes, file an amended return through your online account to correct errors or change values from a previously filed return. You must explain why the amendment is necessary.

What is the penalty for filing and paying Maine sales tax late?

A 10% failure to file penalty applies to late-filed returns. 1% monthly failure to pay fines accrues up to 25% of unpaid tax. Total penalties cannot exceed 25% of the tax due.

Audit and appeals process in Maine

The Maine sales tax audit process begins when a business is randomly selected for audit or due to certain risk factors. The auditor will review the company's books, records, and previously filed tax returns.

If the audit identifies discrepancies resulting in additional tax due, the auditor issues a Notice of Assessment. The business then has 60 days to file a written appeal to challenge the assessment.

If unsatisfied after appeals, the company can petition for reconsideration or file an appeal with the Maine Superior Court.

Maine sales tax audit process

The typical steps in a Maine sales tax audit are:

  1. Receive audit notification letter
  2. Provide requested records
  3. Review preliminary findings
  4. Receive Notice of Assessment
  5. File administrative appeal within 60 days
  6. Attend appeals conference
  7. Receive final determination
  8. Pay an assessment or file a court appeal

What to expect during the audit?

The auditor will review sales records, purchase invoices, exemption certificates, bank statements, tax returns, and other documents to verify proper tax was paid. Expect to provide records covering a 3-year lookback period.

After the audit – Appealing the results

If assessment results are unsatisfactory, first file an administrative appeal within 60 days of receiving the Notice of Assessment. The Maine Appeals Office reviews this. Further requests can then be made to Maine Superior Court.

Contesting audit findings in Maine helps resolve discrepancies and clarify any confusing issues. It also provides the opportunity to present additional records or documentation.

Sales tax registration in Maine

Here are critical steps for registering for a Maine sales tax permit:

How to register for sales tax in Maine

To register for a sales tax permit in Maine, file online. Provide your business information, including expected sales volume to receive your registration certificate and assigned filing frequency.

You will then begin collecting, reporting, and remitting Maine sales tax on taxable transactions. Use sales tax software to simplify compliance.

Registration requirements for online sellers in Maine

  • Exceed $100,000 in annual retail sales shipped to Maine
  • Facilitate over $100,000 in sales in Maine for marketplace sellers
  • Have property, employees, or other physical presence

Marketplaces and platforms boosting taxable sales in Maine may also have registration and collection requirements.

Cost of registration for a Maine sales tax license

There is no cost to register for a Maine sales tax permit. Registration can be completed online for free. Filing fees depend on tax due.

Agencies to register within Maine

Maine Revenue Services handles Maine sales tax registration. No other state or local registration is required.

More Information & Contacts for Maine Sales Tax

There you have it—an in-depth guide on Maine's sales tax system. Need help filing taxes for your ecommerce store? Schedule a demo with Numeral now.

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About the author

Deb Mukherjee

Deb is the head of marketing at Numeral. He has worked with the likes of Shopify and Wonderment and has helped countless ecommerce stores scale seamlessly. With a background in finance, he often finds himself advising stores on sales tax and good financial systems.

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