Michigan Court Holds that Online Research Service is Not Subject to Sales Tax

The Michigan Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court’s decision and found that Thomson Reuters is not liable for use tax on sales of its Checkpoint online research service to Michigan customers. The transaction at issue is primarily the provision of a service and not the transfer of tangible personal property. The Court noted that customers were not seeking computer software but rather the “expert knowledge of Checkpoint’s content creators in synthesizing, compiling, and organizing the materials…” The Court disagreed with the lower court’s reasoning that the service was taxable because prior versions of the product provided in print and on computer disks were taxable. The Court held that any transfer of tangible personal property was “incidental to service” under the test established by the Michigan Supreme Court in 1994 in Catalina Marketing. (Thomson Reuters (Tax & Accounting) Inc. v. Department of Treasury, No. 313825 (Mich. Ct. App. May 13, 2014))

Posted on June 24, 2014