Construction Materials Pulled from Inventory Non-Taxable in Indiana

A retailer that also acts as a general contractor was not liable for Indiana sales tax on construction materials it incorporated into its customers’ real property because the retailer properly assessed use tax on the wholesale cost of the construction materials. Sales tax must be collected when a seller purchases tangible personal property for resale then transfers title to the property for consideration. Title does not pass where tangible personal property is put in a condition required by contract terms before the property’s sale is complete. The retailer entered intolump-sum installation contracts and used its own inventory as construction materials in the services it performed. A lump-sum contract does not lose its character even if there is a separate estimate for the materials and the labor. A key finding was that the contractor retained title to all excess materials and was also liability for any overruns unless a change order was agreed to by the customer. The materials lost their identity as tangible personal property when they were converted to real property, and the retailer did not transfer tangible personal property to its customers. (Lowe’s Home Centers, LLC v. Indiana Department of Revenue, Indiana Tax Court, No. 49T10-1201-TA-6, December 19, 2014)

Posted on May 13, 2015