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Effective July 1, 2009, the West Virginia Department of Transportation, Division of Motor Vehicles, enacted legislative regulations establishing the imposition of a 5% sales tax on vehicles prior to the issuance of a certificate of title. The division will collect the sales tax prior to issuing a title, regardless of whether the applicant has paid a similar sales or privilege tax on the vehicle in any other jurisdiction. The only exception applies to a new resident (person or business entity) establishing domicile in West Virginia is exempt from paying the tax on vehicles titled previously in the former state. The sales tax on applications for title on a vehicle purchased from a dealer either in-state or out-of-state is based on the purchase price minus any applicable trade-in vehicle: note: 1) the trade in vehicle must be titled in West Virginia; and 2) rebates received after the sale do not reduce the taxable purchase price. Furthermore, the sales tax does not apply to transfer of ownership without consideration (i.e. gifts, donations, or an inheritance).

The minimum taxable value of a vehicle is $500, irrespective of the indicated actual sale price on either the application for title, the back of the title or a notarized bill of sale. An exemption does apply when the vehicle is branded reconstructed or salvaged, Class T utility trailers, motorboats under 16 feet, welfare to work or similar type program vehicles, assembled vehicles and trailers, Class R travel campers, and older vehicles no longer included in editions of nationally distributed and recognized vehicle value guides. (Reg. Secs. 91-9-1 – 91-9-3, West Virginia Department of Transportation)


West Virginia has issued a notice informing vendors that they must collect consumer sales and service tax on the total cost of delivery services, including postage and handling fees, beginning October 1, 2009. The prior policy held that actual reimbursement for freight charges paid on behalf of customers to common carriers were not subject to tax. This new requirement conforms to the Streamline Sales and Use Tax Agreement, to which West Virginia is a member. The agreement defines delivery charges as charges by the seller of personal property or services including, but not limited to, transportation, shipping, postage, handling, crating, and packing. In addition, the Streamline Act does not allow a deduction for delivery charges in its definition of sales price. (Administrative Notice 2009-20, West Virginia State Tax Department, May 11, 2009)


A taxpayer recently petitioned that the services provided as a certified electrical inspector should be considered “professional services” and, therefore, exempt from West Virginia consumers’ sales and service tax. The West Virginia code does not expressly include in the list of professional services the occupation of certified electrical inspector, nor does it expressly exclude the occupation from the list of nonprofessional services. Therefore, in determining whether or not an occupation qualifies as a profession, the State Tax Commissioner must consider such things as the level of education required for the activity. The West Virginia Office of Tax Appeals and its predecessor held that, at a minimum, a four-year college degree is required for occupations not explicitly designated as “professional.” Certification as an electrical inspector requires neither a four-year college degree nor a high school diploma, and thus can be classified as a building construction trade or occupation, not a profession. The lack of an education requirement rendered the taxpayer a liability to pay the sales and service tax for the services provided as a certified electrical inspector. (Decision No. 06-340 C, West Virginia Office of Tax Appeals, March 27, 2007)


During a recent special session, the West Virginia Senate approved a bill decreasing the sales and use tax rate on food and food ingredients from the current 5% to 4%, effective June 30, 2007, and then to 3% after June 30, 2008. The bill also taxes candy, prepared food, soft drinks and food sold in though vending machines at 6%, the general state rate. (S.B. 2003, West Virginia Senate, passed November 10, 2006)


West Virginia reduced the sales tax on food and food ingredients intended for food consumption to 5% beginning on January 1, 2006. The reduction does not apply to prepared food (excluding pasteurized food and baked goods), dietary supplements, soft drinks, or candy. (2005 WV H. 401d, Enacted)



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