Support Components for Building Signs Taxable as Tangible Personal Property in Virginia

A taxpayer that designs, manufactures, and installs signs was subject to Virginia sales and use tax on support components for building signs since the components are taxable as tangible personal property (TPP). Due to specific language added in 2005 to Virginia statute (see Virginia Code §58.1-602), sales and installation of manufactured signs are taxable as TPP, regardless of whether the sign is attached to or becomes part of real property. The taxpayer argued that the sign support components (“blue boxes”) were permanently installed onto the roof and structural components of the building and therefore constitute an architectural addition that created depth and improved the appearance of the building. The taxpayer argued that the blue boxes are separate and distinct from the sign. The taxpayer contended that the blue boxes should be classified as real property since they are installed and attached to the building. The taxpayer also stated that the blue boxes are permanent but allow the replacement of the sign without additional structural changes to the building. Virginia’s 2005 revision of the TPP definition specifically resolved questions of whether sign manufacturers and installers should be considered dealers in TPP or real property contractors. Virginia’s applicable tax statute requires both the sign and the blue boxes, or any structural addition constructed to support the sign, to be taxed as TPP. As such, the blue boxes are taxable as TPP. (Ruling of Commissioner, P.D. 20-21, Virginia Department of Taxation, February 4, 2020, released April 2020)

Posted on May 26, 2020