Software Purchased in Wisconsin Ruled Exempt as Custom Software

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that an application software system purchased by a taxpayer fit the requirements to qualify as custom software and, therefore, was exempt from sales and use tax. The basic modules purchased contained a business and accounting system that had to be customized to fit their specific operations. Under audit, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue declared that the software sold by SAP was noncustom and subject to Wisconsin’s sales tax. The taxpayer petitioned and the Commission ruled in their favor. The Commission concluded that the system was a custom program because of the significant investment in presale consultation and analysis, testing, training, enhancement, and maintenance support, and because it was not a prewritten program. The distinction between the custom and prewritten programs hinges on the amount of effort necessary to get the software operational for the particular customer’s needs. The Wisconsin Supreme Court found that the Commission’s overall conclusions regarding the several circumstances that determine whether a program is a custom program were reasonable. (Wisconsin Department of Revenue v. Menasha Corp., Wisconsin Supreme Court, No. 2004AP3239, July 11, 2008)

Posted on October 9, 2008