Massachusetts Appeals Court Finds Advertising Materials to be Exempt Direct Mail Materials

The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently found that a taxpayer’s purchase of direct mail advertising materials was not subject to sales or use tax. The taxpayer is a national retailer engaged in the sales of apparel, accessories, and other merchandise. The taxpayer engaged an out of state printer to print the materials and sent the advertising materials to customers via United States mail without charge to the potential and current customers. The Appeals Court cited the materials as exempt from tax since the materials were purchased outside the State of Massachusetts and shipped to customers inside the State; also the materials qualified as direct and cooperative direct mail promotional advertising materials. The Appeals Court further stated that the Appellate Tax Board acted properly when it chose to rely on its own interpretations of the law instead of the directive issued by the Commissioner of Revenue in Technical Information Release 96-5. The Board was allowed by statute to disagree with the findings in the technical information release as the Commissioner’s interpretation was contrary to statutory language. (Bloomingdale’s, Inc. v. Commissioner of Revenue, Massachusetts Appeals Court, No. 03-P-1002, April 12, 2005)

Posted on April 22, 2005