By Charles C. Capouet and Madison J. Barnett

The Indiana Department of Revenue determined that a taxpayer’s sales of merchandise return-related services to retailers are not subject to Indiana sales and use tax. The Department addressed the taxability of three services: (1) the Merchandise Authorization Service (MAS), which utilizes the taxpayer’s proprietary database and risk-scoring computer model to determine whether a retailer-client should accept its customers’ merchandise returns; (2) the Discount Coupon Service, which generates coupons for its retailer-clients’ customers when they make returns; and (3) the product integration services. The Department ruled that the taxpayer’s MAS and Discount Coupon Service were non-taxable services and did not constitute taxable tangible personal property, specified digital products, prewritten computer software or telecommunication services. Also, the MAS was not subject to Indiana sales tax because it was a customized information service. Further, the Discount Coupon Service was a non-taxable service because the coupons were customized to each of the retailer’s customers, the customers did not pay fees for individual coupons, and the fee was based on a percentage of sales generated by transactions in which the coupon is redeemed. Finally, the product integration services were non-taxable because they were professional or personal services not transferred in conjunction with tangible personal property. Ind. Revenue Ruling No. 2013-05ST (May 27, 2015).