Temporary Help Services Not Taxable in Wisconsin

The State of Wisconsin Tax Appeals Commission found that the temporary help services provided by a taxpayer were not subject to Wisconsin sales tax. The taxpayer provides its clients workers with a wide range of skills who work under the direction and control of those clients. The taxpayer pays the wages of the workers it places and also pays for withholding taxes, other payroll expenses and, in some circumstances, certain fringe benefits. In addition, the taxpayer does not contract to provide certain outcomes or results, supply tools or equipment for its workers, or train its employees to provide a particular outcome. The Department of Revenue argued the “look through” position which states that when a worker placed by the taxpayer performs a task which would be taxable if provided as part of a taxable service, then the taxpayers’ gross receipts related to that task are subject to the sales tax. On the other hand, the taxpayer contended that temporary help services are not one of the services enumerated under Wisconsin law and provided several claims in support of this. Additionally, the taxpayer was audited three previous times and was not issued a similar assessment. The Commission found that Department’s approach goes against the rule of construction that taxes may only be imposed by clear and express language, with all doubts and ambiguities resolved in favor of the taxpayer. It was also mentioned that “temporary help services” are not listed as a taxable service, and that such services are distinguishable from the services enumerated in the Wisconsin statutes. (Manpower Inc. v. Wisconsin Department of Revenue, Wisconsin Tax Appeals Commission, No. 05-S-046, August 12, 2009

Posted on September 24, 2009