Sale of Advertising Materials by Advertising Company Taxable in Indiana

An advertising company’s sale of advertising materials to customers was subject to sales tax in Indiana since the sale constituted a “unitary transaction.” The company prepared and distributed direct mailers to recipients on behalf of its customers and billed one amount for the combined cost of the materials and any services performed in preparing the materials. The company argued that it did not owe sales tax on the sales since the “true object” of the transaction is the provision of exempt advertising services. It was determined that the sale constituted a “unitary transaction.” A “unitary transaction” is one in which one price is charged for the sale of property and services together and is taxable. As a result, the company was liable for Indiana sales tax on the sales. The company filed income tax returns but not sales tax returns. The statute of limitations applicable to the income tax return did not apply to the company’s sales tax liability. (Letter of Findings No. 04-20150410, Indiana Department of Revenue, May 25, 2016)

Posted on August 22, 2016