By Stephen Burroughs and Prentiss Willson

Indiana’s Department Revenue determined that the sale of prepaid phone cards and prepaid cell phones are “telecommunication services” subject to Indiana’s Utility Receipts Tax (URT). The URT is an income tax imposed upon the receipts a taxpayer receives from the sale of utility services. Included within utility services are telecommunications services, defined in part as “the transmission of messages or information.” Without analysis, the Department concluded that because the taxpayer is in the business of selling prepaid phone cards and prepaid wireless phones, the taxpayer is in the business of selling telecommunications services consisting of the transmission of messages or information. The Department did not address whether prepaid texting and internet access are telecommunication services subject to the URT because the taxpayer did not separately state such charges in its records or returns. Indiana will tax otherwise nontaxable receipts unless a taxpayer segregates the two in its books and records. As a result, the Department did not distinguish between the prepaid ordinary phone service and the perhaps nontaxable texting and internet access components in applying the URT to the taxpayer’s gross receipts from the bundled transactions. Ind. Dep’t of Revenue, Letter of Findings No. 40-20140076 (July 30, 2014).