Calculate Your Nexus Footprint: Understanding Your Legal Obligations

Published on
Mar 11, 2024
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From Our Partners at Peisner Johnson:

Sales tax is a complex part of doing business, particularly in the United States where rules and rates can vary widely from state to state. One of the key aspects of sales tax that businesses must understand is the concept of nexus. So, in this blog we will delve deeper into the nexus definition, the difference between physical nexus and economic nexus, and how you can calculate your nexus footprint to ensure your business remains compliant with all its sales tax obligations.

Unraveling the Nexus Definition

In the context of sales tax, nexus refers to the relationship between a business and a jurisdiction that enables the jurisdiction to impose a sales tax obligation on the business. Simply put, if your business has nexus in a particular state, you have passed the established thresholds for commerce in that state and you are now required to collect and remit sales tax on sales made to customers in that state.

There are two distinct types of nexus: physical nexus and economic nexus. Each of these types has its own unique set of rules, regulations, and guidelines which are designed to govern its application and operation. While they differ in their defining characteristics and requirements, triggering either the physical or economic nexus invariably necessitates the inclusion of that particular jurisdiction into your nexus footprint. This means that if you meet the criteria for either of these nexuses in a specific jurisdiction, you are obligated to comply with the tax laws of that jurisdiction, thereby expanding your nexus footprint.

Physical Nexus: The Traditional Form

Physical nexus is the traditional form of nexus. It is established when a business has a physical presence in a state, such as a store, office, or warehouse. Employees or representatives operating in a state can also create physical nexus. This means that a traveling salesperson, a remote employee, or even property owned or leased in a state could trigger nexus.

For many years, physical nexus was the primary way that businesses established sales tax obligations. However, the rise of e-commerce has prompted a significant shift in how nexus is defined and applied, leading to the creation of economic nexus.

Economic Nexus: A Modern Approach

Economic nexus is a more recent development in sales tax law. It was established by the Supreme Court's decision in the 2018 case South Dakota v. Wayfair, which ruled that states could require out-of-state businesses to collect and remit sales tax based on the volume of their economic activity in the state, even if they had no physical presence.

This landmark ruling means that if your business makes a certain amount of sales or conducts a certain number of transactions in a state, you may have economic nexus in that state and be required to collect and remit sales tax. The thresholds for economic nexus vary from state to state, making it crucial for businesses to stay updated on the legislation in each jurisdiction where they conduct business.

Calculating Your Nexus Footprint: A Guide with CereTax

Understanding your nexus footprint – the states where your business has either physical or economic nexus – is a critical part of your sales tax compliance strategy. This knowledge helps you identify where you have sales tax obligations and allows for strategic planning.

One effective way to calculate your nexus footprint is by leveraging the power of CereTax's advanced software. It conducts a comprehensive analysis of your business activities, including your physical presence, sales volume, and transaction count in each state. This helps you stay on top of your compliance even as your nexus footprint expands into new jurisdictions.

In some cases, it may be highly beneficial to discuss your specific situation directly with a sales tax expert. This is where our trusted partner, Peisner Johnson, becomes an invaluable resource. With their vast expertise in the field, they can provide accurate and timely guidance tailored to your unique sales tax concerns. They even offer free consultation calls for those encountering sales tax challenges, making them a great go-to resource in navigating the complex landscape of sales tax.

Calculating your nexus footprint is not just a best business practice – it's a legal obligation. Neglecting to collect and remit sales tax where you have nexus can lead to penalties, interest, and even damage to your business's reputation. Regularly reviewing and validating your nexus footprint as your business evolves is crucial.

The complexities of sales tax can be daunting, but with CereTax's innovative software, you're not alone. Our platform makes it easy to calculate your nexus footprint, stay informed about changes in sales tax legislation, and ensure your business stays compliant with all sales tax obligations.


Understanding your nexus footprint is a vital aspect of managing your sales tax obligations. Whether it's physical nexus through a tangible presence or economic nexus through your volume of sales, each form requires careful consideration and regular monitoring. By partnering with CereTax, you can navigate the complexities of sales tax legislation with confidence. Remember, staying informed and proactive is the key to ensuring your business remains compliant and successful in the ever-evolving world of commerce.

Want to learn more about CereTax's partner Peisner Johnson? Click the link below.