Businesses that plan to sell taxable goods or services in New York State must register with the Tax Department for sales tax purposes and receive a sales tax Certificate of Authority. See Tax Bulletins Do I Need to Register for Sales Tax? (TB-ST-175) and How to Register for New York State Sales Tax (TB-ST-360). When applying for a Certificate of Authority, you must select a North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code that best describes your business. This bulletin explains:
- what NAICS codes are and how the Tax Department uses them, and
- how you can determine your six-digit NAICS code.
What are NAICS codes?
The North American Industry Classification System is an industry classification system developed and used to classify businesses according to their principal business activity, using a six-digit code.
What are NAICS codes used for?
The Tax Department uses NAICS codes to:
Note: In any statistical report released to the public, only aggregated data is reported. No taxpayer-specific data is released, ensuring that taxpayer privacy is protected.
How to determine your NAICS code
When you register for a Certificate of Authority through the NYS License Center, the system will help you select the correct code based on the choices you make in a series of drop-down boxes. The NAICS code you choose should be the one that most closely relates to your principal business activity. Your principal business activity is that which generates your greatest New York State gross sales.
It is possible that your principal business activity may not be the business activity that requires you to register for sales tax purposes.
Example: A dentist also sells toothbrushes and other dental hygiene products to his patients. The dentist must register because he sells taxable items, but should choose his NAICS code based on his principal business activity of being a dentist.
Also, if you have another business activity that is unrelated to your principal business activity, you can also choose to provide a secondary NAICS code when registering for a Certificate of Authority.
Example: A hospital that qualifies as an exempt organization also sells taxable parking at a parking garage it operates on its premises. The hospital must register for sales tax purposes because it sells taxable parking, but should choose its NAICS code based on its principal business activity of being a hospital. It should also choose a secondary NAICS code for parking lots and garages.
If you are unable to register using the NYS License Center and need to complete paper Form DTF-17, Application to Register for a Sales Tax Certificate of Authority, use the NAICS Code Lookup function on the Tax Department's Web site to choose your NAICS code. By answering a few questions regarding your principal business activity, the NAICS Code Lookup will guide you to the applicable NAICS code.
A list of NAICS codes can also be found in Publication 910, NAICS Codes for Principal Business Activity for New York State Tax Purposes.
If you need to change your NAICS code you may do so by contacting the Department. Reasons for changing your NAICS code include a change in the nature of your principal business activity or finding that a different NAICS code better reflects your current principal business activity.
If you register multiple locations and plan to file a single sales tax return covering all locations, choose a NAICS code that reflects the principal business activity when all the locations are combined together.
If you register multiple locations and plan to file a separate sales tax return for each location, choose a NAICS code that reflects the principal business activity at each specific business location.
If you register a business located outside New York State, select your New York NAICS code based on the business activity that generates your greatest New York State gross sales.
Note: A Tax Bulletin is an informational document designed to provide general guidance in simplified language on a topic of interest to taxpayers. It is accurate as of the date issued. However, taxpayers should be aware that subsequent changes in the Tax Law or its interpretation may affect the accuracy of a Tax Bulletin. The information provided in this document does not cover every situation and is not intended to replace the law or change its meaning.
References and other useful information
Publication 910, NAICS Codes for Principal Business Activity for New York State Tax Purposes
Do I Need to Register for Sales Tax? (TB-ST-175)
How to Register for New York State Sales Tax (TB-ST-360)