How Do I Pay and Report Excise Taxes for a Business?

Federal Excise Taxes
Federal Excise Taxes. Steve Debenport/Getty Images

What is an Excise Tax?

An excise tax is a tax on use or consumption of certain products. Excise taxes (sometimes called "duties") are sometimes included in the price of a product, such as motor fuels, cigarettes, and alcohol. Excise taxes may also be imposed on some activities, like gambling. Excise taxes may be imposed by the federal government or by a state.

What products must I pay excise taxes on?

Businesses must pay excise taxes on:

  • Environmental products, such as domestic petroleum oil spills and ozone-depleting chemicals.
  • Communications and air transportation taxes
  • Fuels used in business
  • Purchase of trucks, trailers, semi-trailers (at a percentage of the sales price)
  • Ship passenger tax (per passenger)
  • Manufacturers Taxes on coal, taxable tires,gas guzzlers, etc.
  • Foreign insurance taxes
  • Sport fishing equipment, fishing rods, poles, outboard motors, etc.
  • Floor stocks tax on ozone-depleting chemicals

 In most cases,  your business may be responsible for collecting these taxes and passing on the collected taxes to the IRS. For example, you should collect the tanning salon excise tax from customers. 

What is the Tanning Salon Excise Tax? 

One important new excise tax was begun in 2010. This is an excise tax on tanning salons, which was instituted under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The tax is 10% on tanning services that involve "phototherapy," but no tax is levied on spray tans.

The tanning salon must keep records and pay the tax on services performed. The tax must be paid by all tanning salons, including those that are not "qualified physical fitness" facilities. You can find more information from the IRS. 

What Form Do I Use to Report and Pay Federal Excise Taxes?

For a complete list of products and services subject to federal excise taxes, see IRS Form 720.

How Do I File Form 720?

Form 720, the Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return, is used to report and on excise taxes collected by the business for a variety of products and services. Use Schedule A to show the amount of your total liability for excise taxes for the quarter.

Form 720 includes several pages of excise taxes which your business might have to pay, and the rate. You would need to add up all the possible taxes in order to calculate a payment.

When are Federal Excise Taxes Due?

You must file Form 720 quarterly, one month after end of the quarter:

  • Quarter end March - file by April 30
  • Quarter end June - July 31
  • Quarter end Sept. - Oct 31
  • Quarter end December - January 31

If the due date is a weekend or holiday, the form is due the next business day. 

You can e-file Form 720 or send it in by mail. Read the instructions for Form 720, for more information. 

Excise Taxes as a Trust Fund Tax

Excise taxes are a trust fund tax, meaning that they are collected by the business and held in trust, then paid to the IRS at specific times. If the full amount of the tax is not submitted when due, a trust fund recovery penalty may be imposed.

Even if you forgot to collect the tax from your customers, you must still pay it to the IRS.

If you are in a business that has taxable products or services, be sure to set up collection and record keeping systems to keep track of these amounts. 

A payment voucher is included with Form 720. Include it when you send your payment. Send the form and payment to:
Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Cincinnati, OH 45999-0009