Tag - storage auctions

What Is a Sales And Use Tax Permit?

Sales & Use Tax Permit

When businesses sell items professionally in most states, they're required to charge a certain amount of sales tax. This tax is then owed to the local government, and it's paid as an operating cost of doing business. Depending on the job, other taxes might be applied as well, but you should always assume that any business that sells merchandise will need to collect sales tax to fulfill its liability to the government. Because Texas has sales tax, business owners must be prepared to collect and pay these taxes for any business operations completed in the state.

People who sell goods in Texas as part of their business are required to obtain a sales tax permit. This includes people who sell items from an office, warehouse, storage facility, flea market, trade show or other location. Essentially, any time buying and selling items becomes a full or part-time job, you'll need to get a sales tax permit. If you're just selling a handful of items on eBay a few times a year, you probably won't need to worry about sales tax; if you're making frequent sales, though, you should look into obtaining a sales tax permit.

Obtaining the permit itself is quite easy. You simply need to go online and submit the form at http://www.window.state.tx.us/taxpermit/. If you would prefer, you can also call 1-800-252-5555 for an application. There are no fees associated with the permit itself, but you might need to post a security bond of up to four times the amount of the expected monthly owed tax. The purpose of this bond is to cover delinquent fees if you fail to pay your due share of sales taxes. Not everyone who applies will need to post this bond, so it's something you'll need to discuss with the state and plan around accordingly.

Once you've obtained your permit, you're required to post that permit at your place of business. You must then collect sales tax and keep records of all of your purchases so that you can report and pay your taxes on time. You can be audited at any time, so keeping good records is a vital part of maintaining your business. It's usually a good idea to keep at least four years of tax records available at all times so you can avoid hassles when you get audited.

Between business licenses, sales tax, business or self-employment taxes and other operating costs, running your own business can be expensive. This is why it's a good idea to test the waters with any buying and selling venture before you jump in with both feet. Easing yourself into a new retail business will help keep you from getting overwhelmed.

Storage Auctions: An Identity Thief’s Dream

Identity Theft

According to the Bureau of Justice, identity theft affects about 8.6 million households each year. Other sources place this number even higher, with IdentityTheft.info reporting as many as 15 million cases of identity theft each year. This works out to approximately 7% of the total adult population, and many more thefts may go unreported or undetected each year.

Identity theft can be a major problem for individuals and businesses alike. Not only does it affect a victim's money in the short term, it can devastate his credit in the long term. Worse, some types of identity theft can be used in conjunction with other types of crimes. Identities can be stolen as part of a bigger scheme to infiltrate and steal from corporations, and criminals sometimes adopt the identities of innocent victims in order to throw law enforcement off the scent of a crime.

Many identity thieves get their information by sifting through people's trash, and some individuals and companies have begun to combat this by shredding all documents before throwing them away. While shredding your trash is a good first step to avoiding identity theft, you may be overlooking a greater risk: the contents of your storage unit.

After a tenant fails to pay for a storage unit for two to three months, the storage company will auction off the contents to help recoup the lost income from the missed payments. One in four storage units bought at auction contain items with sensitive information like checkbooks, tax documents, identification cards, vehicle titles, social security cards, credit cards, birth certificates, death certificates, old computers and phones, and more. People store these items, believing them to be secure, then either forget that they're stored or don't realize that the items won't be returned to them if they default on their storage payments. These sensitive personal items end up in the hands of whoever wins the auction, and the winner is under no legal obligation to return or destroy any personal items found in the unit.

Of course, many storage auction bidders make every effort to contact the unit's original owner to give back sensitive documents or family memorabilia. Other people don't have the time or energy to do that sort of detective work. In a best case scenario, those sensitive documents could get thrown away, where a thief could find them in the trash. In a worse case, an identity thief could buy the unit and use the documents to steal the former owner's identity.

Depending on what was left in the unit, a thief can cause some major destruction to a person's finances. Stolen documents can be used to forge checks, open credit cards and take out loans that could devastate a person's credit. Taken further, documents can be used to provide a new identity to drug dealers, terrorists, illegal immigrants and other people looking to make themselves hard for the law to find. This type of identity theft can go undetected for years in some cases.

It's also not too difficult to figure out exactly where a person lives and works based on the information left in a storage unit. That sort of information can be extremely dangerous if it falls into the wrong hands.

Most people who frequent storage unit auctions are honest citizens looking to find items to resell for a profit. However, with the recent boom in the industry thanks to popular TV shows like Storage Wars, it's not unlikely to assume that unsavory people might sense the opportunities presented by these auctions.

If you use a storage unit, here are a few tips for keeping your information safe:

  • Don't store sensitive information. This is the simplest and most fool-proof way to keep your documents out of the hands of thieves.
  • If you absolutely must store sensitive documents, invest in a high-quality safe and keep the key well-hidden. Be warned, however, that buyers might expect something very valuable to be hidden in a safe, so you might actually be drawing more attention to the items hidden inside of it. Even strong safes can eventually be broken into with the right tools and enough determination.
  • Don't let your storage unit payments lapse. If you're having trouble making your payments, talk to the owner to see if he can make any payment arrangements with you. If nothing else, he may be able to retrieve personal documents for you before the auction.
  • Monitor your credit for any strange or fraudulent charges. You can subscribe to a credit monitoring program or do it yourself by requesting annual credit reports and reviewing them carefully.
  • Get identity theft protection. Most credit card companies offer this as a benefit of card ownership, and you might qualify for it under your home or auto insurance policy. If not, see about buying a policy. It can't undo all of the damage caused by thieves, but it can at least protect your finances to some extent.

The best way to stop identity theft is to prevent it from happening. Since you can't predict what someone might do with your information, you should take steps to keep it out of people's hands entirely. If you're an auction hunter and ever come across personal documents, try to return them to their proper owner. If that's impossible, at least attempt to dispose of documents properly through shredding or burning. This will help prevent you from being an unwitting accomplice in someone else's crime.



Let's face it, no matter how long you have been buying storage units, you will always come across an item that requires an expert to appraise, repair or sell. A lot of our members have been asking if we have a list of vendors who can help them with specialty items, so we decided to create this page as a resource for people who are looking to make professional contacts. If you are an antique appraiser, antique buyer, specialized or collectible merchandise appraiser, thrift store owner, consignment store owner, auction house owner, upholsterer, electronic or appliance repair person, a buyer of certain types of merchandise, restoration expert or any other type of expert that may be needed by other storage auction buyers, feel free to post an advertisement below.

By using this service in any way, you agree to comply with our terms of use, especially sections 3 & 4.


Storage Auction Q&A


If you have a question about storage auctions or our service, feel free to ask it here. You are also welcome to answer questions or add your opinion. Please post all questions and answers in the comments section below.


From: Nolton 

Subject: Question About Buyer's Premium Fees

You have mentioned cleaning deposits in your blogs. I have also noticed that some of the auction notices have a buyer's premium fee. What are the amounts of the typical premiums and what percentage of auctions do and do not charge this fee? Are there any other additional fees a storage unit buyer might have?

Response from Travis Lane / AuctionsTX.com

About 30% of storage auctions will have a buyer's premium. Buyer's premiums are less common at storage auctions than other types of auctions. I have never seen a buyer's premium be less than or more than 10% at a storage auction.

Other than a clean out deposit and a buyer's premium, you will also need to pay state sales tax, unless you have a valid sales tax use permit. Also, in extremely rare cases, the auctioneer may charge a admission fee.


From: Nolton

Subject: Question About Merchandise You Can't Keep Or Resell 

What are the laws or rules concerning stolen or leased items in a unit? For example; you purchase a unit and you happen to have an item that was reported stolen or an item that was supposed to be repossessed but was hidden there. What other types of items might you find that you may not have the right to keep or resell?

Response from Travis Lane / AuctionsTX.com

Before I answer this question, I would like to advise you that I am not an attorney. Please speak with an attorney before relying on any of the following information.

Other than guns and vehicles, it may be difficult to determine whether an item is stolen. If an item is obviously stolen, you should contact the authorities and let them search for the rightful owner. If the rightful owner cannot be located, there is a chance that you may get the merchandise back. If an item is leased, it may have markings on it which identify the lessor. I would recommend calling the leasing company in order to determine whether the merchandise has been purchased outright or whether it was never returned by the lessee. A lot of rental equipment/merchandise is sold after it has exceeded it's rental life. It is not uncommon to find power equipment, furniture, electronics & appliances that still have the leasing company's markings inside a storage unit.

If the storage facility is aware that there is a vehicle inside the storage unit, they will perform a title search and if a lien holder exists, they will notify them and give them an opportunity to satisfy the delinquent rent. If the lien holder doesn't satisfy the delinquent rent, the vehicle can be legally sold. Although most storage facilities sell vehicles like this for parts and without warranties of any kind, in most cases you can obtain a title.

If you find vehicle inside a storage unit that the storage facility was unaware of, I believe you can keep it; however, you won't get a clear title to it until you satisfy the lien. I am unsure whether the lien holder can still repossess the vehicle but I believe that your claim to it does not supersede the lien.

Guns, illegal drugs & hazardous chemicals are examples of things you may not be able to keep or resell. It is the buyer’s obligation to familiarize themselves with federal, state and local laws relating to the purchase, transportation and possession of their merchandise.

From: Leo

Subject: Is there a service similar to yours in San Antonio

Is there a service similar to yours in San Antonio, TX. or do you offer this service in San Antonio and surrounding areas, like Austin, San Marcos, New Braunfels?
Thanks and look forward to your reply.

Response from Travis Lane / AuctionsTX.com

We currently offer our storage auction schedules to the Houston, Dallas / Fort Worth and San Antonio markets; However, we do have plans to expand into the Austin market by May 1st, 2012. New Braunfels is included in our San Antonio coverage area. San Marcos is not currently in our coverage area, because it is located in between Austin and San Antonio. Since I have received numerous requests to include San Marcos, I will have it added to our Austin coverage area. Update: The Austin schedule is now live.

What Is The State Requirement For Sales Tax?

Sales & Use Tax Permit

Emily recently asked the following question:

What is the state requirement for sales tax, is it required or not? I have heard different stories.

Emily, as far as the sales tax is concerned, you have a few different options. Let me start out by saying that I'm not an accountant or an attorney and you should consult with a professional if you have specific question regarding this issue. 

If you don’t already have one, you can apply for a sales tax use permit on the Comptroller’s website. With a sales tax use permit, you don't pay sales tax when you purchase a storage unit, but you are responsible for collecting sales tax on everything you sell. If you don't have a sales tax use permit, you will need to obtain one or pay sales tax on any storage units that you buy. Even if you pay sales tax up front, you must still collect or pay sales tax on everything you sell.

If you are asking whether you have to pay sales tax or not, the answer is yes. Sure, this is an all cash business, and some people do try to cheat, but why take that chance? Records are being kept by the storage facilities and the auctioneers of every storage unit purchased. This information could be used against you if you ever got audited by the state.

I hope this answered your question.

Why Do People Lose Their Property In Storage Auctions?

Storage Auction Lose Property

Lets look at the primary reasons that storage units are sold at public auctions. Some people go to jail. If they already have their property in a storage unit, it is difficult to make a payment from behind bars. If they went to jail and had a relative or friend move their property from their home into storage and the relative or friend gets behind on the payment, their property is unknowingly sold. Some people die and their family members are not aware that the deceased had property in a storage unit. Others lose their jobs or become ill and fall behind on their payments. It only takes a few months before the costs really add up and some people just can't afford to get current.

In other less tragic scenarios, a person may get a job offer and have to relocate on short notice. They pack in a hurry and everything but the essentials go into storage. Over time these items become less important and the cost to transport them to another state is overwhelming, so they just relinquish the property to the facility or quit making payments. Also, when people relocate, their addresses & phone numbers change. If there is a problem with their credit card and the facility is unable to reach the tenant, notices are placed in the newspaper and then their property is sold.

San Antonio Coverage Area

San Antonio Coverage

Our storage auction schedule for the San Antonio area includes all storage facilities within the following cities, towns and communities.

Adams Hill, Adkins, Alamo Heights, Amphion, Atascosa, Bandera, Bandera Falls, Bigfoot, Boerne, Bulverde, Calaveras, Calaveras Lake, Candlewood Park, Carpenter, Castle Hills, Castroville, China Grove, Cibolo, Cielo Vista, Converse, Coolcrest, Country Estates, Cross Mountain, Devine, Dominion, Eastgate, Elmendorf, Encino Park, Fair Oaks Ranch, Floresville, Forest Crest, Garden Ridge, Geronimo, Great Northwest, Grey Forest, Gruene, Helotes, Hidden Cove, Hidden Oaks Estates, Highland Oaks, Hill Country Village, Hollywood Park, Hondo, Hot Wells, Indian Creek, Jefferson Heights, Kicaster, Kirby, La Coste, La Vernia, Lackland AFB, Lakehills, Lakeside, Leming, Leon Springs, Leon Valley, Live Oak, Lytle, Macdona, Marion, Martinez, McQueeney, Mico, Monticello Park, Natalia, New Berlin, New Braunfels, Northchase, Northcliff, Pearsall, Pearson, Pecan Valley, Pipe Creek, Pleasanton, Poteet, Poth, Quintana Community, Ramble Ridge Ranch, Rio Medina, River Rock Ranch, San Antonio, Santa Clara, Saspamco, Sayers, Scenic Oaks, Schumannsville, Seguin, Selma, Shavano Park, Shertz, Solana Ridge, Somerset, St Hedwig, Startzville, Steeplebrook, Stockdale, Summit at Bulverde Creek, Sutherland Springs, Terra Bella, Terrell Hills, The Estates at Stonegate, The Overlook, Thousand Oaks, Tierra Linda, Timberwood Park, Universal City, Victor Braunig, Lake, Vista, Von Ormy, Wetmore, Windwood Estates & Zuehl.

Houston Storage Auctions Coverage Area

Houston Coverage Area

Our storage auction schedule for the Houston area includes all storage facilities within the following cities, towns and communities.

Alvin, Angleton, Baytown, Beasley, Bellaire, Bellville, Brazoria, Brenham, Brookshire, Channelview, Cleveland, Clute, Columbus, Conroe, Crosby, Dayton, Deer Park, Dickinson, El Campo, Freeport, Friendswood, Fulshear, Galveston, Hempstead, Highlands, Hitchcock, Houston, Humble, Katy, Kemah, La Marque, La Porte, Lake Jackson, League City, Liberty, Magnolia, Manvel, Missouri City, Mont Belvieu, Navasota, Needville, New Caney, New Waverly, Pasadena, Pearland, Pinehurst, Pleak, Richmond, Richwood, Rosenberg, Santa Fe, Seabrook, Sealy, Shenandoah, Shepherd, South Houston, Splendora, Spring, Sugar Land, Sweeny, Texas City, Tomball, Waller, Webster, West Colombia, Wharton, Willis, Winnie.

Dallas / Fort Worth Coverage Area

Dallas Fort Worth

Our storage auction schedule for the Dallas / Fort Worth area includes all storage facilities within the following cities, towns and communities.

Addison, Aledo, Allen, Alvarado, Annetta, Annetta South, Argyle, Arlington, Aurora, Azle, Balch Springs, Bartonville, Bedford, Benbrook, Benbrook Lake, Boyd, Briar, Burleson, Carrollton, Cedar Hill, Centerville, Cockrell Hill, Colleyville, Combine, Coppell, Corinth, Cottonwood, Crandall, Cresson, Crisp, Cross Timber, Crowley, Dallas, Dalworthington Gardens, Denton, Desoto, Dish, Double Oak, Duncanville, Eagle Mountain, Edgecliff Village, Ennis, Euless, Everman, Fairview, Farmers Branch, Farmersville, Fate, Ferris, Flower Mound, Forest Hill, Forney, Fort Worth, Frisco, Garland, Garrett, Glenn Heights, Godley, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Grapevine Lake, Grays Prairie, Hackberry, Haltom City, Haslet, Heath, Hebron, Highland Village, Hudson Oaks, Hurst, Hutchins, Ike, Irving, Joe Pool Lake, Josephine, Joshua, Justin, Kaufman, Keene, Keller, Kennedale, Kleberg, Lake Dallas, Lake Worth, Lakeside, Lancaster, Lavon, Lawson, Lewisville, Lincoln Park, Little Elm, Lowry Crossing, Lucas, Mansfield, McKinney, McLendon-Chisholm, Mesquite, Midlothian, Mobile City, Mountain Creek Lake, Murphy, Navo, Nevada, New Fairview, New Hope, Newark, North Richland Hills, Northlake, Oak Grove, Oak Leaf, Oak Point, Oak Ridge, Ovilla, Palmer, Pantego, Parker, Pecan Acres, Pecan Hill, Pelican Bay, Plano, Ponder, Post Oak Bend City, Princeton, Prosper, Red Oak, Rendon, Reno, Rhome, Richardson, River Oaks, Roanoke, Roanoke, Rockett, Rockwall, Rose Hill, Rosser, Rowlett, Royse City, Sachse, Saginaw, Sanctuary, Sansom Park, Scurry, Seagoville, Shady Shores, Shepton, Southlake, Sowers, Springtown, St Paul, Sunnyvale, Talty, Terrell, The Colony, Trophy Club, Union Valley, University Park, Venus, Watauga, Waxahachie, Weatherford, Westworth Village, White Settlement, Willow Park, Wilmer, Wylie.

FAQ’s About Storage Auctions


Can I make money with storage unit auctions?

If you’re new to the storage auction scene, I’m sure your number one question is “can I make money doing this?” The answer is yes, but it comes with a catch. If you’ve seen the storage auction shows and it looks really easy to turn a thousand dollars into ten thousand in a matter of days, it’s not. Although these shows are entertaining, they do not depict the storage auction business in its true light. Now, I’m not saying you cant make a good living doing this, I’m just saying that the “dream units” they show on television are quite rare. You might have to buy 50-100 units for before a really good one comes along. Most storage units contain common household items like clothing, furniture, decorations, sporting goods, electronics, appliances, lawn equipment, tools & toys. The good news is, you can make a healthy profit reselling items like these, especially in a down economy where people are looking to save money. As long as you’re bidding conservatively, you can expect to double or even triple your investment on each unit. If you’re buying several units per month, that can really add up.


How often do storage auctions occur?

A lot of people are surprised when they realize that there are multiple storage auctions occurring almost every day of the week. There are usually several auctions being conducted in a typical day. On average, each storage facility is selling the contents of 3-6 storage units, although seeing 20-30 for sale at one facility, is not at all uncommon. There is no shortage of storage units on the auction block, especially in a down economy.


Are there storage auctions on weekends?

In the cities we cover, there are usually 2-7 different storage facilities holding an auction on any given Saturday. Sunday storage auctions are very rare and when they do occur it is usually because of a misprinted date in the legal notice. A majority of the auctions do occur Monday through Friday, starting as early as 8:00 AM and sometimes lasting into the evening.


Who can attend storage auctions?

Storage unit auctions are open to the public and anyone can attend. Anyone above the age of 18 may purchase a storage unit. Children under 16 years of age are discouraged by some auctioneers and facilities due to the liability; although, this is rarely enforced. If you have children you would like to bring, it is a good idea to call the storage facility in advance to find out if they are allowed to attend.


Do I need a special license or permit to attend storage auctions?

There are no special licenses or permits needed. Every now and then, you may need to show valid state identification, although this is rare as well. If you are planning on reselling the items that you purchase and you have a sales tax use permit, by all means bring it. If you don’t have one, you will need to obtain one or pay sales tax on any storage units that you buy.


What methods of payment are accepted at storage auctions?

Most self storage auctions are cash only and you don’t have time to go to the ATM after the storage auction is over. Checks are are not accepted. Some storage facilities do accept credit cards as a method of payment at their storage auctions; However, it is a good idea to call the storage facility for the specific terms and conditions of the storage sale. I have heard others say that using a credit card to buy a storage unit at auction is a bad idea. I personally feel that if you are financially responsible and being conservative on your bids, credit cards can be a great tool for getting started in the storage auction business. If you have plenty of cash, by all means, bring it. Nothing hurts worse than missing out on a great storage unit because you didn’t bring enough money with you.


Do the storage facility employees go through the units?

Storage facilities in the state of Texas are required to provide a brief description of the contents of the storage unit in the legal notice that they have published. Some storage facilities choose to ignore this as they do some of the other requirements in Chapter 59 of the Texas Property Code, but we won’t get into that at this time. Once the storage facility has made several attempts to contact the tenant for payment, with no success, they will cut the lock and usually inventory the contents of the storage unit based on what they can see from the door. Very rarely do they ever move things or open boxes. Should you be worried about this? Not really. Most storage facility managers & owners are very honest and respectable people. I’m sure there are a few bad apples, as there is in any business, that do enter the unit and remove the valuables before the auction. However, if you are only bidding on what you can see from the door, what may have been removed from the unit will not effect you.