By Zack Atkins & Open Weaver Banks

The Utah State Tax Commission ruled that machinery and equipment purchased by the owner of a social networking community qualified for the state’s exemption for purchases and leases of certain property used in the operation of a web search portal.  In connection with its proposed construction and operation of a data center campus in Utah, the taxpayer anticipated buying, among other things, computer servers, fiber infrastructure and network equipment, power equipment and infrastructure, backup generators, fire suppression equipment, security equipment, electrical substations, and cooling equipment.  Utah exempts from sales and use tax purchases and leases by an in-state establishment described in NAICS Code 518112, Web Search Portals, of machinery, equipment, and parts used in the operation of a web search portal and with an economic life of at least three years.  The Commission concluded that the taxpayer was described in the requisite NAICS Code and the proposed data center qualified as an in-state establishment.  It also determined that the taxpayer’s anticipated machinery and equipment purchases would qualify for the exemption, with three exceptions.  Fire suppression, security and cooling equipment, the Commission said, would not be used in the operation of the web search portal; rather, that equipment would be used to provide a proper environment for other categories of machinery and equipment to operate the web search portal. Utah State Tax Comm’n, Private Letter Rul. No. 16-001.