FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

Team Registration and Sales Tax

Jun 17, 2021 Written by Danielle Pliska, Vice President of Finance, FIRST




(edited June 22, 2021 to clarify Hawaiian circumstances)

(edited November 12, 2021 to update Hawaiian circumstances)

Team registration for the 2022 season is open, and an updated payment process for FIRST Robotics Competition will be launching by July 1. With the launch of the updated payment process coming soon, we want to give teams a heads up about changes you may experience related to sales tax and your registrations with FIRST.

Sales tax collection is complex and constantly evolving. Our most recent analysis concluded that FIRST is required to collect and remit sales tax in several U.S. taxing jurisdictions, including a destination sales tax in certain states within the U.S. that tax event fees, if a valid exemption certificate is not obtained from the team. In some instances, taxes can still apply even if a valid certificate is provided.

It is important to recognize that tax laws can and do change. The information we present in this blog may become outdated soon. However, your team dashboard will be updated when we learn of changes that would affect your circumstances.

As of today, if you live in one of the states below, your initial registration fee for FIRST Robotics Competition will have sales tax applied at checkout:

  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii*
  • Maine
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • South Dakota

Also, as of today, if your team attends an event that is not part of your initial registration fee (if you attend a 2nd Regional there, as an example) in one of the states below, you will have sales tax applied at checkout:

  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii*
  • New Mexico
  • South Dakota
  • West Virginia

The applicable tax rates and the tax laws requiring FIRST to collect sales taxes are determined by the individual states or localities themselves.

To assist FIRST Robotics Competition teams with this transition of paying sales tax in some circumstances, FIRST will be providing a grant to cover sales tax for non-exempt teams for the 2022 season. Starting in 2023, teams will be responsible for covering their own sales taxes.

What does this mean for your team?

  • All team/organizations that qualify for sales tax exemption should upload their Sales Tax Exempt forms via the FIRST Dashboard. Even if you do not live in one of the states above and do not plan to attend any events in those states, this will help reduce the chance you will be left scrambling if the tax laws change.
  • All teams registering for the season will need to check out via the FIRST Dashboard to determine sales tax obligation, to apply for a sales tax grant, to complete the purchase, and to ensure timely shipment of the Kit of Parts.

Keep an eye on the FIRST Robotics Competition team blasts for step-by-step checkout instructions.

* Hawaii’s situation is different from the simplified version provided above, in that they have a ‘General Excise Tax’ rather than a ‘Sales Tax,’ and this tax may be, but is not required to be, collected from the purchaser. FIRST has decided to collect this tax to maintain equity with states that have a traditional tax structure for purchases. FIRST applied for and was approved for an Hawaii GET Exemption and as such, will no longer be collecting tax on Hawaii registrations.

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Hawaii does not have a sales tax, nor any requirement that anyone "collect and remit" a tax to the State of Hawaii. What you mean, with respect to Hawaii, is that the state is CHARGING YOU (FIRST) an excise tax on revenue that you earn doing business in the state, and that you CHOOSE to seek reimbursement of that tax from the teams that play in Hawaii. Please be accurate. (I am a Hawaii attorney relatively well-versed in the State tax laws and rules, and also an FRC mentor.)

Thank you for your comment. Your statement regarding Hawaii excise tax is correct. Our initial post was an effort to simplify a very complex tax situation in the United States, and thus we omitted the specific details of differing tax structures such as Hawaii; we did not want to confuse any teams by adding any additional complication, or confusion, though we realize the difference in Hawaii is an important distinction. Please accept our apologies. We have modified the blog to give more precise information.

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