Alabama considers the sale of prepaid telephone calling cards and the sale of prepaid authorization numbers not evidenced by a physical card, to be the sale of tangible personal property subject to sales tax. Specifically, Alabama statute considers the “sale of prepaid wireless service that is not evidenced by a physical card” to constitute the sale of a prepaid authorization number. The taxpayer was an authorized dealer for a wireless provider and was required to accept customer payments for the monthly cellular service plans offered by the provider. The taxpayer accepted payments from customers, and within a day or two of the deposit into the Taxpayer’s account, the wireless provider would withdraw the payment and later pay the taxpayer a 5% commission. The taxpayer argued that while it accepted payments from customers that replenished the customers’ monthly cellular service plans through the provider, it did not provide a card to its customers, did not provide an authorization number, and was merely facilitating customer payments to the provider. However, the Tax Tribunal disagreed that the taxpayer was merely processing payments and determined that because the taxpayer sold wireless service, and because that the service was prepaid, the transaction was subject to sales tax under Alabama statute even if a physical card or authorization number was not provided.

Cellular Express, Inc. v. Department, Ala. Tax. Trib. No. S. 14-320-JP, (2021)