Can USPS open my mail?


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Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2014
This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.

Ever wonder if the US postal service has the right to open your letters or your packages?

There are three times your packages run the risk of being opened while in transit through USPS:

1. International shipments–Customs has the right to inspect packages in the destination country. This doesn’t seem to happen too often for most online transactions where the seller has included the proper documentation with the package though some countries are stricter about it than others. Packages mailed into the US are subject to inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

2. USPS can open the following classes of mail to inspect them–basically to be sure you have shipped your goods via the right class of mail since these services receive discounted rates:

  • Periodicals items.
  • Standard Mail items.
  • Package Services (including Media Mail, Library Mail and Bound Printed Matter) items.
  • Standard Post
  • Parcel Select®
  • Incidental First-Class Mail attachments or enclosures mailed under DMM 703.9.
  • GXG items that contain non-documents.
  • Priority Mail International items except the Flat Rate envelope and small Flat Rate box.
  • M-bags.
  • Items sent via “Free Matter for the Blind or Other Physically Handicapped Person” under 39 U.S.C. §§ 3403–06 and IMM 270.
  • All other Domestic / International mail not specifically stated below.

USPS cannot open these classes, they are “closed against postal inspection”–see # 3 for exceptions to that:

  • First-Class Mail® items.
  • Priority Mail® items.
  • Priority Mail Express™ items.
  • Global Express Guaranteed® (GXG®) items that contain only documents.
  • Priority Mail Express International™ items.
  • Priority Mail International™ Flat Rate envelope and small Flat Rate box.
  • First-Class Package International Service items
  • First-Class Mail International items.
  • International Priority Airmail™ (IPA®) items, excluding IPA M-bags.
  • International Surface Air Lift® (ISAL®) items, excluding ISAL M-bags.
  • Certain Global Direct™ (GD) mail.
  • International transit mail.

3. The US Postal Inspectors are like the police force for USPS. They can open any of the mail services, though if it’s one of the services in the “USPS cannot” list above, they get a search warrant to open letters/packages that they believe violate federal law.

Where can you see this info yourself from an official source?

On the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website here:

https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/114

https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/115

the USPS website here:

http://faq.usps.com/adaptivedesktop/faq.jsp?ef=USPSFAQ

and here on the US Postal Inspectors website, see #4:
https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/contactUs/faq.aspx


Visit our Etsy shop: GoTo
Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2014
This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.

bloke

Etsy records for your Sales Tax Returns


Visit our Etsy shop: GoToSupplies
Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2014
This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.

I’ve seen quite a few posts lately from folks looking to download their Etsy records to add up what they collected to file their sales tax return–also helpful for getting your info for your income taxes.

If you need help knowing whether or not you should be collecting sales tax for your in-state transactions, see here: Sales Tax Links to Official State Web Sites

Here’s how to retrieve and add up your sales tax:

Download Your Records

1. Go To Your Shop
(Direct link if you’re logged in: https://www.etsy.com/your/orders/sold)

2. Just below the last order click the link to the download page:
“Download a CSV file with the details for each order.”

3. Page down to Orders, choose the download type and time frame for the CSV you want to download.

To find the sales tax column:

If you choose to download the Order Items CSV, sales tax is column J.
If you choose to download the Order CSV, sales tax is column U.

Add Up the Sales Tax Collected

If you have just one rate for the entire state you can use auto-sum to add them up in a flash. Here’s how:

Autosum: Adding Up Your Totals

If you have just different rates based on the ship-to address, it’s not that easy…

Etsy doesn’t list the sales tax rates for the transactions in the download, so if your state has different rates based on the ship-to address (don’t know if it does? see the Sales Tax Links to Official State Web Sites link at the top of the post), you’ll probably be best off keeping a running list of in-state transactions and all the details you need to properly report your sales tax throughout the year. We do this in an Excel file just like the CSV that you can download from Etsy.

If you didn’t do that for the previous sales tax period, you can still use the Etsy download, it’s just a lot more work to research which zip code was in which jurisdiction. You’ll be able to sort the file so all your in-state transactions are grouped together, which will help you find the orders you need to remit sales tax on, then do the math for the rate based on the buyer’s ship-to address.

And when you’re done, you’ll have a model to build your new document for tracking transactions as they come in to make next year easier. 🙂

Don’t have a spreadsheet program like Excel? The Autosum link above will also hook you up with a free downloadable program that will allow you to use spreadsheets.


Visit our Etsy shop: GoTo
Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2014
This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.

bloke