Online Shopping Membership Fees Taxable in South Carolina

Annual membership fees that allow members to receive benefits associated with online shopping are subject to South Carolina sales and use tax since they allow members to receive tangible personal property (streaming video and audio) that are subject to sales tax as a benefit of membership. Additionally, the fees are subject to sales and use tax because they entitle members to receive discounts on the purchase price and the cost of delivery of items that are subject to sales and use tax, and these benefits are not available to nonmembers. South Carolina imposes sales tax on the total proceeds of sale, without any deduction for the cost of goods sold, cost of materials, labor, service, transportation costs, or other expenses. The fees remain taxable regardless of the fact that they also entitle members to receive benefits that may not be subject to sales and use tax. The one-month trial membership offered by the taxpayer is not subject to tax since there is no consideration for the membership and therefore, no retail sale.(Private Letter Ruling #16-1, South Carolina Department of Revenue, July 6, 2016)

Posted on May 24, 2017