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Tax Regulations

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The following regulations are provided for the purpose of promoting a better understanding of the taxes administered and collected by Aurora. Any new or updated regulations will be posted to this site when finalized. We encourage you to visit this site periodically to see what has been updated.

Note: These regulations are a summary of the layperson’s terms of the relevant Aurora City Code and are not all inclusive and are not intended for legal purposes to be substituted for the full text of the Aurora Code of Ordinances. Please contact the Tax & Licensing Division with any questions or concerns about the information provided.

Food, Candy and Soft Drinks Financial Institutions
Advertising Agencies Freight, Delivery and Transportation
Animal Life Gift Certificates
Agricultural Producers Hospitals and Medical Associations
Auto Dealers Janitorial Services
Automotive Repairs Leased Departments
Auctioneers Linen Services
Barbershops, Beauty Parlors and Hair Stylists Leases and Rentals
Burglar Alarm, Fire Alarm Systems Initial Use of Property
Caterers - Truck Vending of Prepared Foods Morticians and Funeral Home
Coins and Bullion Optical Sales and Service
Computer Software Photographers and Photofinishers
Containers Printers and Printing
Contractors Repairs and Maintenance
Coupons Shoe Repair
Dentists and Dental Laboratories Sand, Gravel and Bulk Landscaping Material
Eating and Drinking Establishments Ready-Mix Concrete
Fabricating, Producing and Processing Upholsterers
Florists Vending Machine Operators

Food, Candy and Soft Drinks

The Aurora City Council approved an ordinance which allows the city to begin collecting Aurora city sales tax of 3.75% on candy and soft drinks similar to what the state began to do in May 2010. The city has chosen to define and tax food similar to the state which will ease the burden on local retailers. The approved ordinance exempts pre-packaged food items, no matter the serving size or place of sale, but excludes candy and soft drinks. Prepared food remains taxable. This structure is similar to the state’s treatment of these items and should provide more consistency for businesses in Aurora.

This ordinance was effective June 1, 2012. However, a one month grace period was extended to allow businesses time to change their point of sales systems to reflect the change in taxation and any other preparations they need. Businesses started taxing candy and soft drinks on July 1, 2012. The first monthly tax return filed with candy and soft drink tax included was due Aug. 20, 2012. The first quarterly tax return filed was due Oct. 20, 2012.

Ordinance regarding the taxation of candy and soft drinks

Regulation concerning the taxation of food

Food Guidelines

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Advertising Agencies

Pulled for review.

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Animal Life

Sales tax does not apply to the sale of animals of a type which may ultimately constitute or provide food for retail consumption, such as cattle, swine, sheep, chickens, fish or bees. Tax does apply to the sale of horses (except for breeding purposes), cats, dogs, birds, and all other animals commonly known as “household pets”.

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Agricultural Producers

Sales of insecticides, fungicides, germicides, herbicides, veterinary supplies, machinery, equipment and general supplies used by agricultural producers are taxable. Containers, labels and furnished shipping cases purchased by an agricultural producer to deliver his/her product to his/her customers are not subject to tax.

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Auto Dealers

  1. A vehicle actually sold to a salesperson, partner or other official of the dealer’s company is subject to the sales tax on the net selling price.

  2. Any motor vehicle dealer having demonstrator, company and executive vehicles where the proprietor, salesperson or employees use such vehicles for personal or business purposes or demonstration in addition to display are liable for payment of use tax upon the fair market price of the vehicle if it is used in such a way for a period of six months or more.

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Automotive Repairs

Parts and accessories installed in automotive vehicles are of the same nature as other sales of tangible personal property and therefore, are taxable. The taxable amount is the total charge made to the customer, with deductions allowed for service or labor charges if separately stated on the customer’s invoice. If the automotive repair business pays tax to its suppliers on parts it purchases for resale it still must collect and remit tax from its customers when these parts are sold at retail.

Automobile dealers, garages, repair persons, etc. may purchase tax free only tangible personal property for resale. This exemption does not apply to service vehicles, machinery, equipment, supplies, tools, etc. which they purchase for their own use or consumption and not for resale. Supplies consumed in the performance of a job such as sandpaper, masking tape, etc. are taxable to the repair person.

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Persons engaged in the business of making retail sales at auction of tangible personal property owned by such person or others are retailers, and are, therefore, required to collect and remit city sales tax, if they collect the tax from all sales made. If the auctioneer does not collect the tax and sales receipts then the person who owns the property must collect and remit the tax.

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Barbershops, Beauty Parlors and Hair Stylists

Barbershops, beauty parlors and hair stylists are primarily engaged in rendering services and their sales of services are usually not considered subject to sales tax. Sales of tonics, skin preparations, shampoos and other cosmetics when made by the bottle, jar or package are sales of tangible personal property and subject to the tax. All supply items that are not resold at retail by the package, jar or other containers are subject to use tax if the beauty shop did not pay sales tax to the vendor at the time of purchase.

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Burglar Alarm, Fire Alarm Systems

Burglar or fire alarm systems rented, leased or otherwise used by an Aurora business or resident are taxable on the full amount charged for such rental, lease or use. Burglar and fire alarm systems sold outright and installed by the vendor are a retail sale and taxable on the full amount of such total charged to the customer.

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Caterers - Truck Vending of Prepared Foods

All sales of foods for immediate consumption from trucks or other vehicles are taxable.

In the event that adequate accounting records are not kept by the vendor, or in the absence of an agreement to report the Aurora tax liability on a percentage basis (reflecting the out of city sales as a percent of gross sales), there is a rebuttable presumption that all sales made by the vendor’s trucks are subject to Aurora sales tax.

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Coins and Bullion

Pulled for review.

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Computer Software

Another word for software is “program”.


“Pre-written” software includes but is not limited to, “canned", “shrink-wrapped", “off-the-shelf” or any other data processing software developed for sale or license to multiple users. Pre-written software also includes data processing program modules of components that are designed to be integrated into larger software packages. “Pre-written” software can be either system software or application software.

System software is defined as a set of statements or instructions in a machine readable format that is capable of causing a machine or device having information processing capabilities to indicate, perform, or achieve a particular function, task or result. In other words, system software is software that controls the hardware itself. These programs are not normally accessible or modifiable by the user.

Application software is defined as software created to perform business functions, or control, or monitor processes

Sales and purchases of pre-written software are considered tangible personal property and are subject to city sales and use taxes, regardless of how the software is acquired by the purchaser or downloaded to the purchaser’s computer.

Charges for implementation or installation are not subject to tax if separately stated on the customer’s invoice. Other charges associated with the purchase of pre-written software that are not implementation or installation charges are subject to tax.

A software retailer or supplier that sells prepackaged software for use with computer equipment, when such programs are fully usable by the customers, is considered to be a vendor of tangible personal property and subject to sales tax on the purchase price of such property.


“Custom” software includes data processing programs designed and/or created to meet the needs of a specific user or set of users is not subject to tax. Modifications to “custom” software are not subject to tax. The software is created specifically for the user. They are frequently created for the user to own, in other cases they are provided to the user under an agreement specifying an exclusive license to the user. The buyer is obtaining the programming labor and the software is created as a result of the labor and services performed.

“Custom” software is tangible personal property, and subsequent sales by the original buyer or software developer are subject to sales tax. The “true object” of a customer for custom software programming is the programming service; the program software is the means of transferring the ideas that the customer desires to develop. Therefore, custom software contracts are contracts where the “true object” is a service of creating new, original intellectual property that is owned by the buyer/user. Software that does not meet the criteria of being created as a service is subject to tax as acquisition of tangible personal property.

A company that leases a computer with exempt custom software and does not segregate in its billing the charge for the software lease is subject to tax on the entire charge.


Maintenance agreements include additional periodic fees. A software maintenance agreement in which updates/upgrades are applied to pre-written software is taxable. A maintenance agreement for mere technical support services is not subject to tax. If the maintenance agreement contains provisions for both technical support and updates/upgrades then the entire amount of the maintenance agreement is taxable unless the amount for technical support is separately stated on the customer’s invoice. Any mandatory fees to maintain the right to use the software is subject to tax.


Software provided through an application service provider or as software as a service model is a common alternative delivery model for software. Users of the software typically access the software via the Internet. The software providers may charge the user a license fee for the software and/or a fee for maintaining the software/hardware used by its customer.

The license fee for the software and/or fee for maintaining the software/hardware is subject to Aurora tax regardless of whether billed as "subscription fee", "license fee", "service", or otherwise, if the user is located in the city of Aurora.


In the event a vendor sells software to an Aurora purchaser that is taxable under this regulation, and the Aurora purchaser pays the vendor for a quantity of software licenses with the intent to distribute the software to any of the purchaser’s locations outside of Aurora, the measure of Aurora tax due is the total of the license fees associated only with the licenses that are actually used in Aurora. The Aurora purchaser shall provide a written statement regarding intended usage locations of the software licenses.

Published 5/28/14

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Pulled for review.

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Contractors defined: Any individual, partnership, firm, association, corporation, trust, estate, or joint venture who performs work on real property for another party under the terms of an agreement, is contractor within the meaning of this regulation. For the purpose of this regulation, "Subcontractor" has the same meaning as "Contractor".

All materials used by contractors that lose their identity to become an integral and inseparable part of a completed structure are covered by building permits and an estimated amount of tax is paid on these materials when the permit is taken out.

The tax on items listed below is not paid by the contractor when a permit is taken out and must be paid as sales tax to the vendor or as use tax directly to the city:

  • Telephone Switchboards and Instruments

  • Awnings, Drapes and Venetian Blinds

  • Burglar and Fire Alarm Systems

  • Light Bulbs

  • Stoves, Refrigerators, Freezers, Washers, Dryers, Microwave Ovens

  • Furniture, Paintings and Mirrors

Supplies and tools – Contractors are the consumers of supplies such as oxygen, acetylene, gasoline, propane, acid, thread cutting oil, and tools and parts for tools, which they use in their business, and the tax applies to the sale of such supplies and tools to contractors.

Construction machinery and equipment rentals and leases – The total price charged to any contractor for the rental, lease or use of any construction machinery and equipment together with the charge for the operator services are taxable in full.

Additional Building Use Tax Information and Forms

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Retailers accept coupons from their customers for a reduction in the regular selling price of an article. These coupons are classified as either manufacturer’s coupons or store coupons.

A manufacturer’s coupon is issued by the manufacturer of an article and allows the customer a reduction in the sales price of the product upon presentation of the coupon to the retailer. Because the retailer is reimbursed by the manufacturer for the amount of the reduction, sales tax applies to the full selling price before the deduction for the manufacturer’s coupon.

A store coupon is issued by the retailer for a reduction in the sales price of an article when the coupon is presented to the retailer by the customer. Because there is no reimbursement to the retailer for such reduction, the sales tax applies to the reduced selling price of the article.

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Dentists and Dental Laboratories

Dentists are consumers of the materials, supplies, and other tangible personal property which they use in performing their services. Tax, accordingly, applies to the sale of the tangible personal property to them. Dentists are exempt from tax on prosthetic devices and on prescription drugs which they may administer to their patients in the regular course of the patient’s treatment.

Dental laboratories must obtain a sales tax license and must collect and remit sales tax on taxable sales.

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Eating and Drinking Establishments

The vendor of meals and drinks must pay the tax on purchases of products used or consumed in the operation of his/her business, including fixtures, linens, silverware, glassware and such paper products as tablecloths, towels and toilet tissue.

Any person who makes retail sales of meals and beverages and who provides his employees with food and beverages, whether free of charge or at a reduced charge, is deemed to be the user or consumer of the meals and must pay a use tax based upon the inventory value of such food and beverages or the price charged, whichever is greater. The fact that the transactions do not appear in the taxpayer’s gross receipts does not exempt the transactions from being taxed.

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Fabricating, Producing and Processing

"Fabricating, producing and processing" includes any operation which results in the creation or production of an article of tangible personal property, or which is a step in a process of series of operations resulting in the creation or production of such an article; the terms exclude operations not so related for the creation or production of such an article.

The operating which changes the form or state of tangible personal property is one of fabrication. Persons regularly engaged in the fabrication or production of articles for sale at retail shall collect and remit the tax on the sales price. If the fabricator converts such property to his own use, he/she shall remit the tax based on his acquisition cost.

The tax applies to the total charges for the fabrication or production of an article of tangible personal property made to order. For example, if a manufacturer orders a machine part from a machine shop, the tax shall be paid on the total charge for the part, including labor, although charges for labor may be segregated from the cost of the materials. Similarly, the total charges for making drapes are subject to tax.

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All sales at retail by a florist are taxable and all orders taken by florists within the city of Aurora and telegraphed to florists outside the city are taxable. When a florist within the city of Aurora receives a telegraphic order from a florist outside the city, the sale is exempt. When a florist has more than one location in the Denver-Metro area, interoffice transactions and deliveries are deemed not to be telegraph orders.

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Use tax will apply to all tangible personal property supplied under a franchise agreement. When both tangible and intangible personal property are furnished and the charges are not segregated, the use tax will apply on the entire franchise payment.

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Financial Institutions

Banks, savings and loan associations, and similar financial organizations who offer gifts or premiums of tangible personal property as an inducement for opening an account, making a deposit or adding to an account are, for purposes of the ordinance, making sales of tangible personal property (see (1) below), or are making taxable purchases (see (2) below).

These gifts and premiums are purchased by the financial institution and given to the customer or offered to the customer at a reduced price when a deposit is made to the customer’s account. The purchases of these gifts and premiums or sales thereof, are to be reported in the following manner:

  1. The sales of these premiums and gifts at their reduced price are treated as retail sales and the financial institutions must collect the sales tax from the depositor.

  2. The difference between the bank’s purchase price and the cash price paid by the depositor will be taxable to the financial institutions. If an item is given to the depositor, the item’s purchase price (cost) will be reported on the appropriate line of the sales tax return.

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Freight, Delivery and Transportation

  1. When tangible personal property is sold “F.O.B. shipping point” and the purchaser at that point assumes the risks of ownership, and transportation costs do not appear on the seller’s invoice, the cost of transportation paid by the purchaser to the carrier is not subject to tax.

  2. When tangible personal property is sold on a delivered or “F.O.B destination” basis, the tax shall be computed on the total charges, even though the seller bills the purchaser separately for the freight charges.

  3. When the seller delivers on the shipment and makes a charge which appears separately on the invoice, and in fact the seller assumes responsibility for loss and damage in transit, the tax shall be computed on the total invoice charge.

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Gift Certificates

The sale of gift certificates is not taxable, but when the owner of the gift certificate receives tangible personal property, by using the certificate, the transaction occurring then is a sale and taxable as such.

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Hospitals and Medical Associations

Hospitals and medical associations which are self-sustaining to the extent that the only contributions to them are made by those who are direct recipients of the benefits are not considered charitable organizations. Purchases such as supplies and equipment by these types of hospitals and medical associations are taxable.

Hospitals or medical associations which are maintained by regular contributions from sources other than those who receive the benefit are considered charitable organizations. Purchases such as supplies and equipment by these types of hospitals and medical associations are exempt from tax. Hospitals and medical associations must collect the sales tax on all items sold to patients unless the item is specifically exempt.

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Janitorial Services

Any tangible personal property items that are furnished under a service contract and are billed separately as a distinct item to the customer are considered retail sales and sales tax must be collected from the customer and remitted by the janitorial service.

If such consumable items are not separately stated but are included in the service contract, the janitorial service shall be deemed to be the user or consumer of the products and shall pay sales tax at the time of purchase.

No sales tax is applicable to the charge for services rendered.

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Leased Departments

Where a store has leased certain of its departments to other persons for the sale of tangible personal property at retail, each such leased department shall make a sales tax return and remit the tax to the Sales Tax Section. If the store leasing the department keeps the books for the leased department and makes collections on account of the sales, the store shall make separate returns for each department. The lease is not relieved of the liability for the sales tax in case the store fails to make the proper return or fails to remit the taxes due to the Sales Tax Section.

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Linen Services

The same rules apply as those outlined for Janitorial Services.

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Leases and Rentals

The lessee/renter is required to pay sales tax on all leases and rentals of tangible personal property. The full amount of the lease/rental payments, including any interest charged, is subject to sales tax.

When tangible personal property is sold by way of a "lease with the option to buy" or "rent-to-own" type of transaction, tax is due both on the lease/rental payments, including interest, and on the total purchase price of the tangible personal property.

Coin-operated devices which do not vend articles of tangible personal property shall be considered short-term rentals of tangible personal property.

Sales tax should be assessed on lease payments for the entire term of the lease where the taxable event occurred (delivered or picked up). For example, if leased equipment is picked up in Aurora by the lessee, Aurora sales tax is collected for subsequent lease payments for the duration of the lease regardless of whether the lessee takes the equipment to other locations. If the lessor shall cause the leased item to be delivered into another jurisdiction, that jurisdiction’s sales tax would be assessed for the entire term of the lease.

See §§130-166(a), §130-156(7) 

Published 5/8/15

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Initial Use of Property

Any item purchased for use or consumption by the purchaser is subject to sales or use tax at the time of the purchase, even though the item will be resold later in the normal course of business. A tax-free purchase is taxable in full the first time it is used by the purchaser for a non-exempt purpose.

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Morticians and Funeral Homes

Morticians and funeral homes are considered to be rendering services and making sales of tangible personal property, and shall collect sales tax in accordance with the following rules:

  1. If a funeral service is contracted for in one lump sum, with no itemization, sales tax shall be imposed on the entire amount.

  2. If a funeral service is contracted for in such a manner that the charges for such articles as caskets, urns, vaults, shipping boxes, clothing, etc., are separately stated from the charges for such services as music, a police escort, clergy’s honorarium, etc., sales tax shall be imposed only upon the selling price of the articles.

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Optical Sales and Service

All sales of eyeglasses, contact lenses, frames and replacement parts for such are considered to be prosthetic devices and exempt from tax when prescribed by a licensed doctor or a legally qualified member of the healing arts. Sunglasses not dispensed under a qualified prescription are subject to sales tax.

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Photographers and Photofinishers

Photographers and photo finishers are primarily engaged in the business of selling tangible personal property to their customers and such sales are taxable. Purchases of materials which become ingredients or component parts of the finished pictures, such as mounts, frames, and sensitized paper are not taxable because these items are purchased by the photographer or photo finisher for resale. Conversely, purchases of materials that do not become a part of the product are taxable to the photographer or photo finisher.

Development of films – coloring and tinting. The charge made by photographers and photo finishers for only the development of film is a service charge and is not subject to sales tax. Where individuals deliver their own pictures to photographers for tinting or coloring, the transaction is a service and not subject to sales tax. If prints made from developed negatives are sold to a customer, tangible personal property has been sold and the selling price is subject to tax.

The full amount paid to a photographer for a picture is taxable. No deduction is allowable on account of such expenses of the photographer as travel time, rental of equipment, or salaries or wages paid to assistants or models, whether or not such expenses are itemized in billings to customers.

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Printers and Printing

Sales of catalogues, books, letterheads, envelopes, folders, advertising circulars and other printed matter are taxable retail sales if the purchaser does not resell the articles but uses or consumes them by distributing them for free. A printer may not deduct from the selling price any charge for labor or service in performing the printing, even though the labor or service charges may be billed separately from the charge for stock. The labor or service is expanded in the production of the articles sold; consequently, it is manufacturing labor incorporated in the product.

The typesetting service performed by a printer for a customer or another printer is not taxable where the title of the metal does not pass to the customer.

On commercial printing of postal cards or stamped envelopes purchased from the United States Postal Service, the amount subject to tax does not include the amount of postage involved.

Printed matter which is partially printed, invoiced to the customer, held in stock for further imprinting, and finally invoiced for the subsequent imprinting is taxable on the full price charged by the printer for the item. Sales tax must be collected on the selling of each part of the job. The subsequent imprinting before delivery is deemed to be completion of the initial sale: not a separate transaction.

Exempt purchases of tangible personal property for resale include:

  1. Paper: Newsprint; stock on which the finished product is printed and delivered to the customer; wrapping materials for finished products sold to customers.

  2. Ink: Printers ink, ink additives, and overprint varnishes.

  3. Chemicals: Anti-offset sprays, fountain etch solutions, gum solutions, and all component chemicals when used with the above materials.

  4. Materials: Padding compound, stitching wire and staples and bookbinders type.

A printer shall be deemed to have separately invoiced such items as photoengraving, photostat, electrotypes, stereotypes and matrices to the extent such items are utilized for the production of specific product for a specific customer and there is a statement on the invoice for the particular job which reads “the above invoice price includes the cost of pre-press preparation materials used in the production of the above product”, and such invoices give the specific job number, and the cost of the pre-press preparation materials used in the job is specifically listed on the copy of the invoice retained by the printer. In addition, if the final product is tax exempt because it is being shipped out of state by common carrier or otherwise, it will be necessary for the printer to include on the invoice the amount of sales tax due on the pre-press preparation materials and remit the amount of such tax to the city. The basis for this requirement is that possession was taken in Aurora by the printer as agent for the customer of the pre-press preparation materials in order to produce the final product which itself is exempt from tax because it is shipped in interstate commerce. If separately invoiced as herein provided, pre-press preparation materials used in the production of a product sold and delivered to a tax exempt entity will not be deemed subject to the payment of use tax by the printer.

In order to avoid liability for the payment of use tax on pre-press preparation materials, the printer must maintain adequate records of such materials in detail as to each specific job, so that the indication of pre-press material designation on the ultimate billing can be determined upon an audit and segregated from other-press materials, manufacturing aids or plant property. There must be an audit trail which clearly reflects the passing on to the customer of a particular item or pre-press preparation materials and shows the billing for same and the collection of sales tax on a particular invoice when such sales are subject to tax.

A printer may at times retain a customer’s property in his place of business. When tangible personal property is retained in the printer’s place of business, the department may examine the various records applicable to this property, such as who is liable for the payment of insurance and personal property tax on the property, who is allowed to deduct the depreciation expense on the property, and who benefits from the salvage of the item, in making a determination of the ownership of the property.

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Repairs and Maintenance

Parts and materials provided by a person/vendor to repair property belonging to others are taxable. The purchase price is subject to sales tax and the person/vendor must collect sales tax from the purchaser following these guidelines (to include all inter company transactions):

  1. If, at the time of sale, the person/vendor performing the repair work provides the purchaser with an invoice and does not state separately or segregate a fixed price for parts, materials, transportation fees, installation fees, labor, and any other fees or services rendered in installing, applying, remodeling, repairing and maintaining tangible personal property, then the invoice is considered bundled or a lump-sum issuance and the entire amount is taxable. The person/vendor is required to collect sales tax on the total purchase price stated on the invoice.

  2. If, at the time of sale, the person/vendor performing the repair work states separately or itemizes at a fixed price for parts and materials, and states separately an amount for labor and time consumed, the person/vendor shall be considered a retailer of such parts and materials, and is required to collect sales tax on materials including markup.

  3. The foregoing applies to all repairs and services, and it is not limited to: general repairs (excluding automobile repairs); building repairs (non-permit projects): remodeling and leasehold improvements, HVAC, electrical, tile and plumbing repairs; general and preventive maintenance repairs; landscaping and maintenance; irrigation repairs; common area maintenance (CAM); and electrical appliance repairs; repairs of radios and televisions; watches and jewelry; and other such articles.

Published 10/8/12

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Shoe Repair

Shoe repair shops must collect and remit the tax on the full sales price of articles such as custom-made shoes, shoe strings, shoe polish, etc. When no breakdown is made on repairs to customer property, shoe shops may collect and remit the tax on fifty percent of the total charges for repairs to the customer property.

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Sand, Gravel and Bulk Landscaping Material

A retailer of the above items must collect sales tax upon the delivered price of such materials, which includes minimum load and transportation charges. Stand by charges made after arrival at the destination are nontaxable if segregated on the customer’s invoice.

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Ready-Mix Concrete

Ready-mix concrete is taxable on the delivered price, which includes minimum load and transportation charges. Stand by charges charged after arrival at the destination are not taxable if segregated on the customer’s invoice.

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An upholsterer who is engaged in the repair, recovering, upholstering or similar work on a customer’s property is engaged in the sale of tangible personal property and, accordingly, will charge his customer sales tax on the tangible personal property used in the service. The upholsterer must separately state the tangible personal property and the service or labor charges on his billing to his customer.

A sale by the upholsterer of upholstery material, manufactured articles, or other tangible personal property to a retail customer, without service rendered in connection with the sale, is taxable on the full selling price of the property.

An upholsterer who purchases property which he/she upholsters and then offers it for sale is required to charge sales tax on the full selling price of such property.

Upholstery material and other items of tangible personal property that become a part of the upholstered item may be purchased tax free, but he/she must pay sales or use tax on those items used or consumed that do not become a party of the completed upholstered property.

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Vending Machine Operators

Every licensed vending machine operator shall pay sales tax on a total amount of all items sold for more than 30 cents each. Purchases, rentals or leases of machinery, equipment and supplies used or consumed by the vending machine operators are subject to the sales or use tax.

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