Purchases Made Prior to Eligibility Date Did Not Qualify for Oklahoma Sales Tax Exemption

An individual’s purchases of furniture were not exempt from Oklahoma sales and use tax since the purchases were made prior to the effective date of the taxpayer’s eligibility for the exemption. The taxpayer claimed a refund of sales tax paid pursuant to Oklahoma’s 100% Disabled Veteran Sales Tax Exemption. The taxpayer applied to the Veterans Administration (VA) for a determination of his status as a 100% service-connected disabled veteran. While his status determination was pending, the taxpayer made the furniture purchases. Several months after the furniture was delivered to the taxpayer, the VA notified him that he was awarded a 100% service-connected disability rating. Shortly thereafter, the taxpayer submitted a refund claim for sales tax paid on the furniture purchases. The Oklahoma Tax Commission (OTC) denied the refund claim, finding that the taxpayer did not meet the burden of establishing the validity of the refund claim and that the sales occurred prior to the exemption date stamped on the taxpayer’s Disabled Veterans Exemption Card. The taxpayer appealed the OTC’s finding. The taxpayer argued that the final delivery date – which was after the eligibility date for the exemption – is the operative date for determining entitlement to the refund. The taxpayer claimed that the invoice dates do not reflect actual sales of “tangible personal property” on those dates but simply orders for custom-made furniture “which was not in existence.” The taxpayer also pointed out that the invoices have an “ETA date box,” and therefore the taxable event occurred when the finished furniture was delivered. According to the taxpayer, there was no transfer of title and no transfer of possession of custom furniture on the invoice dates, and the transfer did not occur until delivery. The Appeals court found that the OTC was correct in concluding that the purchases did not qualify for the 100% Disabled Veteran Sales Tax Exemption. The purchases occurred before the date on which the VA declared that the taxpayer has a 100% service-connected disability. As such, the taxpayer did not qualify for the exemption on the purchases and the refund claim was properly denied. This case illustrates the importance for exempt businesses/individuals of having valid exemption documentation and providing it at the time of purchase. Acquiring the exemption documentation at a later point – such as between the invoice date and delivery date – can lead to the exemption being denied. (Moates v. Oklahoma Tax Commission, Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals, No. 2020 OK CIV APP 44, August 26, 2020)

Posted on October 29, 2020