A photographer or videographer business must have a vendor’s license to sell merchandise. If your business will have a storefront, you will need a county vendor’s license. If your business will not have a storefront, you will need a transient vendor’s license. In most cases you will need to collect sales tax on the sale of your photographs or videos. One exception is if you will be selling photographs to direct marketing vendors that will be using the photos in printing advertising material, you will then not be charging sales tax.
Providing a photography or videography service is considered a professional service, and therefore is non-taxable. A photography or videography service only includes the actual taking of the photographs or videos (e.g. sitting fee, photo shoot, studio fee, etc). A taxable transaction may occur if the photos are developed into tangible personal property.
The production of still photographs or prints, photo or video discs, motion pictures, the developing of negatives, or the mounting of transparencies in frames to create slides are all transactions subject to sales tax. Unless the sale is otherwise exempted by law, the entire charge to produce the tangible personal property (e.g. still photos, prints, motion pictures, etc) is subject to sales tax. This includes the cost of property sold, cost of materials used, labor or service cost, or any other expense.
A transaction may arise resulting in a mixed invoice, meaning that the invoice may contain both taxable and non-taxable items. The invoice can be itemized between taxable and non-taxable items. If the invoice is not itemized, the total amount of the invoice is taxable.
For example, if the photography transaction includes the transfer of tangible personal property such as prints, a CD or flash drive, the entire charge, including sitting fee, is subject to sales tax.
If you will be advertising or providing “glamour photography,” you will need to contact the Ohio State Board of Cosmetology at (614) 466-3834 for licensing information. Information is also available online at www.cos.ohio.gov.
If you will be developing your own photos, you will need to contact the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for information about the proper disposal of chemicals. The Ohio EPA can be reached at (614) 644-3020 for General Inquiries or (800) 329-7518 for the Small Business Hotline. Information is also online at www.epa.state.oh.us
Remember to check local and federal laws.