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Google Merchant Center

Tax Suspension in Merchant Center? Fix It With This Easy Setting!

Tax Suspension in Merchant Center? Fix It With This Easy Setting!

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Post Summary

ARGH another Merchant Center suspension warning just hit, this time for taxes. But you set up taxes already, in fact, you're using a service like Avalara to do your taxes on the site, so why in the world aren't they lining up with your Google Shopping product feed? 

If you are beating your head against the wall with a tax suspension in Google Merchant Center, it could be that you have a city tax issue (or shipping and handling). In this video, I walk you through how to fix it quickly so you can get back up and running on Google Shopping and making that cash!


All right, welcome to the next episode of Merchant Center Mastery. I've had a lot of cold brew this morning, so I may be talking fast. So here's here is it's gonna be like, "here's the one hack that'll help you fix all your tax settings problems," which I kind of tend to hate, like hack sort of videos. But this kind of is actually that, because if you have received a suspension warning for taxes, there's a good chance that this is why, and this is gonna solve it.

Obviously, if you have received a suspension warning, look at, you know, make sure to check out the notifications section because that'll actually tell you this. Messages will often tell you that there will be something here that says, you know, here's what, and you can click into that and it'll tell you the specific products. So we always start there. We always go there and see like, what are those specific products and is there something specific it's telling us here are the two, probably the two biggest reasons I see tax issues, settings issues that aren't the normal. Like "your taxes are wrong", right? That you put the wrong taxes in, or that you forget to do the taxes. So let's go into settings here and we'll go into the sales tax section. Again, like this is one of those, if you're supposed to charge in, let's say California and you're not, that's probably like the number one reason, right? However, here are the next couple of reasons that I see the first of them being "is shipping and handling taxable?" You may not be aware of the setting, but that's really important because... if the brand that you're advertising for, calculates taxes after shipping and handling is added in your cart, Then your taxes are gonna be off if you do not have this selected. So you've gotta make sure that it's selected.

So that's one thing to check on. So if we have a tax suspension thing and we're not quite sure what's going on, we might ask our clients, or we might even, you know, hop into their site and just see like, are they charging it after it gets in the cart. So that's the first one. But here's the other one. And that is, as we've looked into this, from what I can tell, Google does not allow us to set taxes at a city level. And this is what, this is one of those really interesting things for me. 'cause I'm not quite sure, I don't understand how this kind of like, has gotten missed and I don't know if I'm missing something, but I don't think so because from what I can tell you can only set taxes at a state level within Google Merchant Center. And yet taxes, especially let's say in the US sometimes are on a City level. And your client, if they, if they have more of a, you know, a complex tax service they're utilizing, they might actually be charging specific city tax that's not going to line up with your merchant center. Now here's the thing with taxes in merchant center is that if you are charging, let's see, if you are charging less on your site in taxes than what merchant center calculates, you're okay, you won't get a suspension. If you're charging more, that's where you get into trouble.

So let's say that, let's say, you know, it's California and you're, I'm just making this up, right, but let's say it's California and LA. So California has a state tax, let's say, and then LA has maybe a higher state tax or a, a higher city tax. What that means is by the time that all of that's calculated, let's say that that tax ends up being like 11% on the site. And in California here, let's say it's only 10%. And so if you, you know, you just have it set for California 'cause you're like, okay, we charge taxes California, and you keep getting that disapproved, you don't know why. That could be why. So what you can do to account for that is you can go in here and adjust a manual setup tax. You could charge 50% for all of your, well, no, no, you couldn't, but you know, you could charge, it's probably more like 13% or something like that. And what it's, what this means is you are telling Merchant center within shopping settings.

So let me see if I can, let me see if I can pull this up here. Star War, I don't know why I went to Star Wars Lego. So I'm working on building, I'm actually building the Yeah, yeah, yeah. The razor crest. I'm building, I'm building this UCS razor crest. I'm almost done. It's really, really a fun build. So let's go to, let's go to shopping and we can see, we can see taxes. Typically this is gonna be one of those funny times where like, it's not gonna work how I want. Okay, item price. Where's the flippin' taxes? Are you kidding me? Oh, yeah, yeah. Okay, okay. Okay. Man, they, I, I swear like they've changed stuff, right? They google's constantly changing things, okay. There used to be like a column for taxes. I mean, how far out of date am I, I don't know. So here you have estimated taxes. I'm in Montana, we don't have sales taxes here. I know. Woo woo.

So, so by the way, this is totally random, but we have people who live in Wyoming. So Billings, Montana, we're kind of close to Wyoming border. And, and so we have people who live right on the border of Wyoming. Wyoming, they don't get charged income tax. And so these people live in Wyoming, they don't get charged income tax. They come to Billings and purchase with no sales tax. These people are like hacking the tax system, man. Okay. That's what you could do too. You just have to live in Wyoming. Okay, so let's see.

Anyways, back to this. So, so if, if we charge tax, you'd see the tax there, the estimated tax that is from your merchant center feed, and Google just wants to make sure that that number that shows up is more than what you'll actually on the site. And if it's more than it's fine, it does not have to line up perfectly. And that's, that's kind of the thing to know. So as long as you enter in a manual number that is over, whatever the highest amount is that they'd pay, you're gonna be fine. And you can beat that suspension. And that's, that's where it gets a little tricky, especially when city taxes get into the mix. So one of the things you can do, there's like a couple things that you could do here. You could just go in and enter like something pretty high, like 13%, 14% for any of the states that you're having issues with for your suspension just to get out of the suspension warning if you wanted. 'cause again, like it's just gonna, it's just gonna show up here. And the worst comes to worst is like, you're just gonna have a higher number than they'll actually pay, which means you might not get as many clicks in, you know, in shopping, which, right? I mean, that kind of stinks, but at least you're not suspended anymore. It's kind of up to you.

We've, one time, I actually used ChatGPT one time, I was like, I don't know, I'm curious to see what happens. And I, I just asked ChatGPT like give me, give me every state's tax along or give me the highest city tax rate in every single state. And then, and then I grabbed that number and then I added like a percent and added that in. So I've done that before too, just to, just to kind of go through, you know, so you'd be like, this one is at 12%, you know, if you just wanna get a little more accurate, you could do that, right? But that will, that's what's gonna help preserve you if you are working with a brand who is using a, a service. Like I always get the name wrong, but I think it's Revana Tax. Let's see. No, it's not Revana. This, this is what I get for like, oh, {laughs} Revana it's, I think it's Avalara, it's a, it's Avalara. That's what I was thinking. I don't know where I came up with Revana. What even is Revana? So some people use things like Avalara and they, that's what like does all of their taxes stuff on their e-commerce site, right? If you're doing that and it actually gets down to like city level and all that stuff, you might have suspensions within Merchant center.

This, this is how you beat that. So yeah, I hope that's helpful. I think it's one of those things where if you don't know this, it's really frustrating. If you know it, you can fix it pretty quickly and that makes you a merchant center master. So let me know if you have any questions and hope you found this helpful. Thank you.

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Kirk Williams
@PPCKirk - Owner & Chief Pondering Officer

Kirk is the owner of ZATO, his Paid Search & Social PPC micro-agency of experts, and has been working in Digital Marketing since 2009. His personal motto (perhaps unhealthily so), is "let's overthink this some more."  He even wrote a book recently on philosophical PPC musings that you can check out here: Ponderings of a PPC Professional.

He has been named one of the Top 25 Most Influential PPCers in the world by PPC Hero 6 years in a row (2016-2021), has written articles for many industry publications (including Shopify, Moz, PPC Hero, Search Engine Land, and Microsoft), and is a frequent guest on digital marketing podcasts and webinars.

Kirk currently resides in Billings, MT with his wife, six children, books, Trek Bikes, Taylor guitar, and little sleep.

Kirk is an avid "discusser of marketing things" on Twitter, as well as an avid conference speaker, having traveled around the world to talk about Paid Search (especially Shopping Ads).  Kirk has booked speaking engagements in London, Dublin, Sydney, Milan, NYC, Dallas, OKC, Milwaukee, and more and has been recognized through reviews as one of the Top 10 conference presentations on more than one occasion.

You can connect with Kirk on Twitter or Linkedin.

In 2023, Kirk had the privilege of speaking at the TEDx Billings on one of his many passions, Stop the Scale: Redefining Business Success.

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