Sales tax on newspaper delivery

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In light of the note below that cites rulings from the Missouri Department of Revenue, Missouri Press Association suggests that newspapers collect and remit to the state sales taxes on newspaper delivery charges.

Missouri Press Association will make further inquiries with the Department of Revenue on this issue.

Publishers of general circulation newspapers must collect and remit sales tax on the separately stated charge for delivery to subscribers, even when the subscribers are given the option of picking up the newspapers themselves, the Missouri Department of Revenue advised in several letter rulings, because the taxpayer failed to show that picking up the newspaper was a "viable option."

Under Missouri law, if a purchaser is required to pay for delivery, handling, postage costs, or other service charges as part of the sales price, the entire sale price is subject to tax. If charges are stated separately, the delivery fee generally is not subject to sales tax. The three rulings are Nos. 6223, 6224, and 6225.

However, under Southern Red-E-Mix Co. v. Director of Revenue, Mo., 894 S.W.2d 164 (1995), the department said, "the fundamental question is whether the parties to the transaction intended the delivery charge to be part of the sale."

The need to make special arrangements to avoid the delivery charge is an important factor in determining whether charges are mandatory and, therefore, subject to tax, the department said, noting that there was only a single pick-up point for subscribers. Further, mail delivery was not really a viable option because the subscribers would receive the newspaper days after its publication.

For these reasons, the department said, the publishers must collect and remit sales tax on the entire subscription price.

Text of the April 30 rulings can be found at http://dor.mo.gov/tax/cgi-bin/rulelist.cgi.

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