Mailing Catalogs From Out-of-State Not Taxable Use in Missouri

A taxpayer was entitled to a refund of Missouri use tax it paid on catalogs that it printed and mailed from outside the state to customers in Missouri because the taxpayer did not use the catalogs in Missouri. In Missouri, use tax is imposed on the storage, use or consumption of tangible personal property in the state. Mailing catalogs from another state into Missouri is not the exercise of any right or power over the catalogs incident to the taxpayer’s ownership or control over them. The taxpayer exercised that power outside of Missouri when it caused the catalogs to be printed and mailed to particular customers in Missouri. Once the catalogs entered Missouri, the taxpayer did not take any action in regard to its ownership or control of the catalogs. As a result, the taxpayer was entitled to a refund of the use tax it paid on the catalogs.This case follows a prior decision – May Dep’t. Stores Co. v. Dir. of Revenue, 748 S.W.2d 174, 175 (Mo. banc 1988). This finding may also apply to complimentary samples or other items shipped into Missouri from outside of Missouri at no charge to the customer. A key point in the decision was that Office Depot never had control or possession over the property. Use of an in-state independent agent would have resulted in tax being due. (Office Depot, Inc. v. Director of Revenue, Missouri Supreme Court, No. SC95029, April 5, 2016)

Posted on April 25, 2016