Access Charges for Online Solution Taxable as Remotely Accessed Software in Tennessee

Charges to access a company’s web-based technology solution that allows a customer to manage its own information are subject to Tennessee sales and use tax as remotely accessed softwareas of July 1, 2015. With respect to the taxable use of computer software in Tennessee that remains in the possession of the dealer or a third party on behalf of the dealer, Tennessee’s tax law requires the access and use of the computer software by a customer within the state. Here, the system is housed on a third party’s server and accessed remotely by customers from locations within Tennessee. As a result, charges to access the system are taxable. The company’s provision of customer access to its website is not subject to sales and use tax. Website access is offered in order to provide non taxable services. The true value of the right to access the website is for the users to view their own information. Any manipulation of the information that requires use of the website is incidental to the company’s provision of services. The true object of granting access to the website is the provision of services. The company may license the system from a third party as an exempt sale for resale if it presents the third party with a resale certificate.Regarding the company’s purchases of remotely accessed software used by persons located both within and outside Tennessee, the company can either: present the seller with a Remotely Accessed Software Direct Pay Permit at the time of purchase and remit sales tax directly to the Tennessee Department of Revenue on the portion of the sales price that corresponds to the percentage of its users located in Tennessee; or present the seller with a fully completed Streamlined Sales Tax certificate of exemption at the time of purchase to exclude the portion of the sales price that corresponds to its percentage of users located outside Tennessee, and pay sales tax based on its percentage of users located within Tennessee.(Letter Ruling No. 16-01, Tennessee Department of Revenue, January 26, 2016)

Posted on March 24, 2016