The Louisiana Board of Tax Appeals granted summary judgment to the taxpayer, holding that its sale of video-on-demand and pay-per-view are not subject to sales tax. A group of local parishes assessed the taxpayer on the theory that video-on-demand and pay-per-view are tangible personal property because the content was “perceptible to the senses,” and the content was temporarily stored on set-top boxes. The Board of Tax Appeals rejected this argument, concluding that the services fall within the exemption for necessary fees incurred with the service of cable television.

The Board agreed with the Louisiana Court of Appeals’ decision, Normand v. Cox Communications Louisiana, LLC, which also determined that video-on-demand and pay-per-view were not software, and therefore applied for Louisiana’s sales tax exemption for cable television service fees. 167 So.3d 156 (2014). Despite some factual distinctions in the Cox case, the Board stated that video-on-demand and pay-per-view are not “tangible personal property” merely by being perceptible, since that would mean all cable services—which are also perceptible—are tangible personal property, thereby rendering the cable services exemption moot. Furthermore, the Board stated that while content can be stored on set-top boxes, “the right to view the program can be severed from the perceptible manifestation of the program’s data.” Accordingly, the Board concluded that video-on-demand and pay-per-view were not taxable sales or rentals of tangible personal property.

DirecTV LLC v. City of Baton Rouge, Docket No. L01329 (La. Bd. of Tax Appeals Mar. 14, 2024).