By Suzanne Palms and Timothy Gustafson

The Vermont Commissioner of Taxes determined that conference bridging and meeting collaboration software services provided to Vermont customers were not subject to sales and use tax. The service provider’s conference bridging service allowed customers to call into a number with an access code to participate in a conference call for both an annual and a monthly subscription fee. The meeting collaboration software service allowed audio and video conferencing along with the use of shared computer screens and files during the conference. Customers were charged based on a per-minute access fee. The Commissioner ruled that the conference bridging service was not a taxable telecommunications service, but was instead specifically exempt as an ancillary “vertical service” under Code of Vt. Rules § 1.9771(5)-2.B.1, which is defined to include “conference bridging services.” Additionally, the Commissioner determined that the meeting collaboration software service was not a taxable telecommunications service because customers were only purchasing the ability to share and access information from the service provider, and they paid other third parties for Internet access and voice transmission services. Furthermore, the customers did not receive a disk containing the service provider’s software nor did they download, host, or directly access the software. Finally, since the conference bridging and meeting collaboration software services were separately exempt, the Commissioner found that bundled transactions including both services were also exempt. Vermont Formal Ruling No. 2015-01, Vermont Department of Taxes, May 1, 2015.