California Sales Tax for Photographers

by Dec 31, 2020Sales Tax


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To begin you have to ask yourself 3 questions…


let’s first take a look at what each of these sale tax terms means so that you can understand how it pertains to Photographers in California.
These definitions are laid out below.


So, what’s nexus? The term “nexus” is used in tax law to describe a situation in which a business has a tax presence in a particular state. A nexus is basically a connection between the taxing authority and a business that must collect or pay the tax. It’s possible to have nexus in more than one state especially if you travel to another state to shoot. So you want to be sure you understand the laws of each state you work in.


The source indicates where the sales are taxed.

  • Origin-sourced sales are taxed where the seller is located, so this is based on your zip code.
  • Destination-sourced sales are taxed at the location where the buyer takes possession of the item sold.

Also, keep in mind if the client picks up tangible goods from your location or studio, this is the point where the transaction happens. If you mail or ship to the client, it will be by their zip, not yours.


Any physical products sold to a client, items you can touch and hold like prints, albums, frames, etc…


These are digital items delivered electronically via telephone lines, over the internet, by email, or by another alternative form of non-physical transmission.
Beware of digital prints delivered on a physical device such as a thumb drive or CD as these are no longer digital and are now considered physical because you can touch them.
Services are anything needed to produce the end product, such as shooting, editing, culling, touchup, etc…


Services are anything needed to produce the end product, such as shooting, editing, culling, touchup, etc…


This is any shipping charged by you to your client. Third parties such as album companies who dropship or online
galleries where clients can order prints will take care of their own shipping. But if you charge your client shipping,
this is where the shipping rules in this guide apply to you.

California Sales Tax for Photographers

Below are the sales tax requirements for Photographers in California broken out. You will find supporting links and resources at the bottom of this post.

✅California Nexus

Physical presence; providing service in person, having a physical location, a warehouse, inventory, traveling salespeople or representatives, attending trade shows, or taking orders or deposits in person.

✅California Source

MIXED: California is considered a “mixed sourcing state” as city, county, and state sales taxes are origin-based, while district sales taxes – supplementary local taxes – are destination-based.

✅California Physical Goods

California imposes sales tax on physical/tangible.

✅California Digital goods

Charges for photographs you electronically transfer to your customers’ computers by modem or direct downloads are generally not taxable.

✅California Services

Any labor and services involved in producing or fabricating the photograph is a taxable service.

✅California Shipping

Shipping and delivery charges are taxable.

📆Monthly liability / Filing Frequency:

$1200.01 and up / Monthly
$100.01-1200.00/ Quarterly
$0.00-100.00/ Annual


Due last day of the following month



Q1 (JAN – MAR) / APR30
Q2 (APR – JUN) /JUL31
Q3 (JUL – SEP) / OCT31
Q4 (OCT – DEC) /JAN21*(Following year)


JAN-DEC / JAN31 (Following year)


California Department Of Tax and Fee

⭐️LookUp Rates
⭐️DCTFA Pub 68 – Photographers, Photo Finishers, and Film Processing Lab guide.

Have another question you’d like me to add to this list?

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– Tiffany Bastian

Hey Photographer!

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