Saturday, April 6, 2013

Art Shows 101: Sales Tax and Credit Card Processing

                                                               Volume 3: Sales Tax and Credit Cards

So you’ve chosen your shows, submitted your images, gotten your acceptances and you’re completely ready to go -- right? 

Ha ha! This is when the real panic can set in. That summer show that seemed to be eons away when you applied in January is inching closer day by day. While I can’t give you any advice on what to make, how much to stock up, or what your perfect price point may be, I can point you in the right direction on some very basic necessities.

Sales Tax

As New York State Etsy sellers we are required to remit sales tax to New York State for all taxable in-state sales - so it’s likely you already have your Certificate of Authority a.k.a. Sales Tax ID number. If you don’t, here are a couple of links to get your started:

Online Permit Assistance and Licensing:

New York State Department of Taxation (main website):

Be sure to display your Certificate of Authority at the shows you participate in. State Tax Examiners often visit large, outdoor shows to make sure that exhibitors are in compliance.

And while this goes without saying, I'm going to say it anyway. New York State Sales Tax permits are valid in New York State only! If you are traveling to a show in another state be sure to contact the tax department of that state and obtain the proper permits.

Credit Card Processing

As Etsy sellers, we have the convenience of PayPal or Direct Check out at our finger tips. But what about face to face sales? Should you accept credit cards? Here are a few things to consider:

• the price range of your products may determine whether or not you should accept credit cards. If your average sale is under $20 you may find that many of your customers are more than happy to cash -- so why bother paying extra fees if you don’t have to? If your average sale is above $20, or $50, or $100, accepting credit cards may increase your overall sales.

• If you have a smart phone or an iPad or Android tablet with mobile service AND a checking account, there is no good reason for you to not accept credit cards. Square, a credit card processing company, offers free processing equipment and fair rates for mobile credit card processing. Here’s a link to their site:

While some people question the security offered by Square and dislike the fact that ALL of their customer service is handled via email, I personally have not heard of one actual complaint about their service. And as for the question of security, Starbucks has signed with Square and even sells their card readers in their stores. If Square is secure enough for Starbucks it’s probably secure enough for show vendors.

Here are a couple of links for further reading: 

• if you’d prefer, PayPal, ProPay, Intuit, and many other companies offer mobile credit card processing services too

• if you have a PayPal or ProPay account, or a different merchant account,  you can manually process a credit card sale after a show. Be sure to collect all the information needed from your customer along with a contact phone number. 

• if you are dead-set against accepting credit cards, don’t want the extra hassle, or are just selling at a couple of small shows this season, fear not! Most buyers still bring cash to shows, and their check books as well. If you loose sales by not accepting credit credit cards your can always get yourself set up for your next show.

Here's wishing some warmer Spring like temperatures before we dive into the summer show season!

Until next time -- keep creating!



  1. This is great info for selling at shows AND online! Thanks for this must-read blog, Alison!

  2. Nice article Alison! This will help a lot of people (me included) - I love the credit card info! These days its so easy to accept them -it really helps to level the playing field.

  3. Good review of sales tax issues and taking credit cards. Not long ago, in the days before Square, vendors had to use what they called knuckle busters! Some people may still use them, but mobile payments has been so helpful to all small business.

  4. I am very happy to read this. I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable, great post.

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  5. What an impressive post. Now I know even in mobile phone, we can make payments. Hassle free and time saving.

  6. This is great info. Now I know even in mobile phone, we can make payments. Hassle free and time saving. personal statement statements from writers lounge