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Sales Tax Voluntary Disclosure Agreement


In the world of business, staying compliant with tax laws is paramount. However, mistakes happen, and sometimes businesses find themselves owing sales taxes they haven't paid. This is where a Sales Tax Voluntary Disclosure Agreement (VDA) comes into play. It's a strategic move for businesses to come clean about unpaid taxes while mitigating penalties and avoiding severe repercussions. Let's delve into what a sales tax VDA is, its benefits, and why it might be the right step for your business.

What is a Sales Tax Voluntary Disclosure Agreement (VDA)?

A Sales Tax VDA is an agreement between a business and a state tax authority. It allows businesses to voluntarily disclose previously unpaid or underpaid sales taxes. In return, the state often offers reduced penalties, interest, and protection from criminal prosecution. This initiative is designed to encourage compliance and rectify unintentional tax oversights.

The digital revolution has changed the way we live, work and do business. Due to the rapid growth of the digital economy, governments around the world are grappling with the question of how to change their tax systems to generate revenue from the digital services sector. This has led to the emergence of Digital Services Taxes (DSTs), a hotly debated and discussed issue. In this blog post, we'll explore the concept of DST, its cause, the challenges it presents, and its potential impacts.

Key Components of a Sales Tax VDA


  • The business must initiate the disclosure voluntarily.
  • The business should not have been previously contacted by the tax authority regarding the unpaid taxes.

Disclosure of Liabilities:

  • Full disclosure of unpaid sales taxes for a specific look-back period, usually shorter than the statute of limitations.

Payment Terms:

  • Agreed-upon payment of disclosed tax liabilities within a set timeframe, sometimes with payment plan options.

Waiver of Penalties and Interest:

  • Potential reduction or elimination of penalties and interest in exchange for disclosure.


  • Information disclosed is kept confidential and not shared with other government agencies.

Compliance Requirements:

  • Commitment to comply with state tax laws moving forward, ensuring timely filing and payment of sales taxes.

Legal Protection:

  • Assurance against criminal prosecution for the disclosed liabilities.

The VDA Process

Initial Contact:

  • The business or its representative contacts the state tax authority to express interest in a VDA.


  • Terms of the agreement, including the look-back period and tax amounts, are negotiated.

Agreement Execution:

  • Both parties sign the VDA, formalizing the terms and conditions.

Disclosure and Payment:

  • The business discloses the unpaid taxes and makes the required payments.

Ongoing Compliance:

  • The business must continue to comply with state tax laws, ensuring future sales taxes are reported and paid.

Why Consider a Sales Tax VDA?

Reduced Penalties:

  • A VDA often leads to significant reductions in penalties and interest, saving businesses money.

Legal Protection:

  • It provides protection from criminal prosecution for previously undisclosed liabilities.

Shorter Look-back Period:

  • The period for disclosing past liabilities is typically shorter compared to a full audit.

Peace of Mind:

  • Resolving uncertainties and bringing the business into compliance can significantly reduce stress.

Real-World Impact

For many businesses, a Sales Tax VDA can be a lifeline. Take, for example, a small e-commerce company that recently discovered it owes several thousand dollars in unpaid sales taxes from the past few years. By entering into a VDA, the company can disclose these liabilities, negotiate a manageable payment plan, and benefit from reduced penalties. This proactive approach helps the business avoid a potentially crippling audit and maintain its reputation with the state tax authority.


A Sales Tax Voluntary Disclosure Agreement is a smart, proactive tool for businesses that have fallen behind on their sales tax obligations. It offers a pathway to compliance with reduced financial penalties and legal risks. If your business is grappling with unpaid sales taxes, considering a VDA could be the best decision you make to secure your financial future and ensure ongoing compliance. Don’t wait for an audit to uncover issues—take control with a VDA and steer your business towards a compliant and prosperous future.

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