Paint purchased for fishing vessel subject to Rhode Island use tax.

A taxpayer in the business of repairing fishing vessels was denied a refund for sales tax paid on marine paint after the issue was raised as a result of a 1999 audit. The taxpayer asserted that he was entitled to a refund because the paint was for certain jobs being used on vessels with a 50-ton carrying capacity, and those jobs could be identified, and those fishing vessels were being used for interstate commerce. However, the Hearing Officer agreed with the Division of Taxation, stating that, though the vessels were carrying cargo through interstate or international waters, they were leaving from and returning to the same port, and the fish caught were only being sold for the benefit of the owners. In addition, the paint had been held in inventory before being used, and storage is a taxable use of tangible personal property. As of June, 2002 paint was included in the list exempt supplies used on fishing vessels, but the change in law was not retroactive and the refund request period was from November 1, 1999 through June 30, 2002. (Administrative Hearing No. 2004-05, March 16, 2004)

Posted on September 3, 2004