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Florida sales and use tax issues can be convoluted, particularly regarding ticket and admissions issues. Sales tax issues on admissions turn many of the general sales tax rules upside down, but the trouble doesn’t end there for traveling amusement shows. These rules apply to traveling shows, exhibitions, circuses, carnivals, rodeos, and similar traveling events. No matter the industry, there are requirements to the admissions sales tax rules for traveling amusement shows that can create major problems for businesses if not properly followed. Understanding Florida’s admissions rules along with the additional requirements for traveling amusement shows can help to mitigate future tax problems for those involved in traveling amusement shows.

Florida Sales Tax on Admissions: An Overview

In Florida, admission charges are generally subject to sales tax. The price of the admission must be either conspicuously shown at the box office or on the ticket. With that said, tax is due on the sales price or actual value of the admission at the moment of the sale. This causes confusion when tickets are resold for a price either higher or lower than the amount printed on the ticket. In many cases, ticket resellers are over-collecting or under collecting tax, and may find themselves with a large assessment at the conclusion of a Florida Department of Revenue sales tax audit.

To further confuse the issue, ticket resales through third-party sellers add another level of complexity to the issue. In a typical transaction with a third-party seller, the taxpayer will sell a ticket online through a third-party website. The website will sell a ticket for $100 to the customer, keep $10 as a service fee, and provide $90 to the taxpayer. Does the taxpayer owe tax on the $100 or the $90? Like many legal questions, the answer unfortunately is: “it depends.” Determining the taxable base of admissions in Florida is surely not as simple as one would think.

Identifying what is taxable is only the first step for admissions sellers. Once sellers identify which tickets or admissions are taxable, and determine at what price those admissions are taxable, they must then familiarize themselves with the proper procedures for remitting tax to the Department. Particularly odd sales tax rules apply to the procedures for turning over tax to the Department for certain admissions, such as those to events located at a convention hall, exhibition hall, auditorium, stadium, theater, arena, civic center, performing arts center, or publicly owned recreational facility. In these cases, the tax must be paid to the Florida Department of Revenue on the first day of the month following the date of the event. The tax is delinquent on the twenty-first day of that month. This is in stark contrast to the normal procedures for collecting and remitting tax, but failure to abide by this unique rule can result in penalties and interest in addition to the sales tax amount.

Florida Sales Tax on Traveling Amusement Shows

Traveling amusement trade shows have additional requirements for sales tax. Rule 12A-1.005(1)(d) provides:

Operators of traveling shows, exhibitions, amusements, circuses, carnivals, rodeos, and similar traveling events shall, upon request of an agent of the Department of Revenue, produce a cash receipt or similar documentation evidencing payment to the State of admission taxes due on any or all previous engagements in Florida during their current tour and an itinerary of future engagements in this State during the current year. The operator must document any performance in Florida that is sponsored by a not-for-profit entity that qualifies under the provisions of s. 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, for which the admission charges are exempt from tax.

Identifying taxable admissions, determining the taxable base of those admissions, and properly executing proper remittance procedures is not the end of the road for traveling amusement shows, however, which have additional requirements. Those operating a traveling amusement show must provide a cash receipt (or something similar) showing payment of the tax due on any or all previous Florida shows. The information to be provided must be for the current tour. Additionally, an itinerary of future events in Florida for the current year also must be provided.

By requiring this additional information, the Florida Department of Revenue imposes an additional burden on traveling amusement shows that can snowball into a very large assessment. Tax errors made on sales to one show may be the same errors in all shows, and by requesting additional information for an entire tour, the state can pick through not only one event but all events and increase a sales tax assessment by an exponential amount. Keep in mind, poor record keeping is not an excuse for the Department. Even if tax was paid, if the taxpayer cannot prove it, there is a chance the state will assess tax even when they’ve already received the money.

Finally, it is important for taxpayers in Florida to be aware of the severe consequence of collecting tax from admissions sales and not remitting it to the state. Florida, like other states, prosecutes business owners who collect tax from their sales and fail to remit that tax to the state. Many tours start or end in Florida, and by the end of a tour, if finances were not properly managed or an unforeseen circumstance has interfered with a budget, business owners may be tempted to use sales tax collected for business expenses. Even if the intention was to make up the money on the next show, the state of Florida takes the position that as little as $300 of tax collected not remitted is a felony.

In conclusion, there are very specific requirements for sales of admissions in Florida. If you operate a traveling amusement show, then there are additional responsibilities of which you must be aware. Traveling amusement shows often take place across many states in a short period of time. Owners of the shows may think their short presence in a state exempts them from Florida, and other state, sales tax. However, the opposite is true. The Florida Department of Revenue can assess you not just on one show, but on all of your shows based on records you are required to provide. Failure to do so can result in a large assessment and failure to remit tax collected can result in prison time.

Whether you are just starting out or your company has been operating for decades, it would be worthwhile to have a review of your business with an eye for sales tax exposure areas by a tax professional knowledgeable both in your industry and Florida sales tax laws. A review of your business interactions with a state and a determination of what sales are taxable, what rate they are taxable at, how to properly register with a state and pay the tax, and how to limit exposure going forward. Spending the time and resources upfront can save a tour from devastating assessments across a state or country. No matter how briefly your tour is in a state, the government can still potentially audit, assess, and even imprison business owners who fail to properly follow Florida’s sales tax rules.

There are other sales tax issues to be concerned about in Florida such as whether sales tax is due on sharing your admissions with the venue (potentially double taxed as rent), on cleaning crews, on lighting or sound equipment, fees collected from any booth operators at the event, food sales, etc. In other words, if you don’t have someone in your company that is highly knowledgeable in the ever-changing sales tax laws, you might be building up a tax exposure with every event. With the availability of a free consultation to review your Florida sales tax issues, there is no reason to wait. The best-case scenario, you can sleep at night knowing you are doing things right. The worst-case scenario, you find out you have a problem and can take the bull by the horns (for our traveling rodeo readers) to minimize the tax, penalties, and interest and limit the state’s look back period. What you don’t want is for the state to decide to do a review of your business with a full audit.

About the author: David Brennan is an associate attorney with Moffa, Sutton, & Donnini, P.A. His primary practice area is multistate tax controversy. David received a B.S. in Accounting and Finance, with a minor in Computer Science, from Florida State University. He worked as an accountant for a CPA firm before attending law school at Regent University. He received his Juris Doctor in 2013 and was licensed to practice law in Florida in the same year. In 2015, David earned his Masters of Laws in Taxation from Boston University. While working for the Florida Department of Revenue as a Senior Attorney, David focused on sales and use tax issues. You can read his BIO HERE.

At the Law Office of Moffa, Sutton, & Donnini, PA, our primary practice area is Florida taxes, with a very heavy emphasis in Florida sales and use tax. We have defended Florida businesses against the Florida Department of Revenue since 1991 and have over 100 years of cumulative sales tax experience within our firm. Our partners are both CPAs/Accountants and Attorneys, so we understand both the accounting side of the situation as well as the legal side. We represent taxpayers and business owners from the entire state of Florida. Call our offices today for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION to confidentially discuss how we can help put this nightmare behind you.


Section 212.04, F.S. Admissions tax; rate, procedure, enforcement

Section 212.07, F.S. Sales, storage, use tax; tax added to purchase price; dealer not to absorb; liability of purchasers who cannot prove payment of the tax; penalties; general exemptions.

Rule 12A-1.005, F.A.C. Admissions


FLORIDA SALES TAX INFORMAL WRITTEN PROTEST, published November 17, 2018, by James Sutton, CPA, Esq.

FLORIDA NOTICE OF FINAL ASSESSMENT (NOFA) | FL DEPT. OF REVENUE, published December 2, 2018, by Matthew Parker, Esq.

FLORIDA SALES TAX - VOLUNTARY DISCLOSURE PROGRAM, published April 9, 2018, by Jeanette Moffa, Esq.

FLORIDA SALES TAX EXEMPTION ON ADMISSIONS FOR RESALE, published December 14, 2017, by Moffa, Sutton, & Donnini, P.A.

FLORIDA USE TAX AUDIT LETTER?, published June 14, 2015, by James Sutton, CPA, Esq. and Jerry Donnini, Esq.

GO TO JAIL FOR NOT PAYING FLORIDA SALES TAX?, published November 3, 2013, by James Sutton, CPA, Esq.