California Court Rules on Computer Service Contracts

The California Court of Appeals concluded that optional computer service contracts sold with computers for a single lump-sum price were not subject to California sales and use taxes. These mixed transactions were bundled in which goods and services are inextricably intertwined in a single sale. While the computers and service contracts are sold together for an aggregate price, they are distinct consumer items and each is a significant object of the transaction. The service contracts have readily ascertainable values, even without itemized invoices. In addition, there is no state statute or regulation that requires service contract charges to be separately stated on an invoice in order to avoid taxation. The appellate court held that it was proper to tax the computer (i.e., the tangible personal property) but not the service contract (i.e., the service or intangible property). (Dell, Inc. v The Superior Court of the City and County of San Francisco, California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, No A118657)

Posted on April 1, 2008