Companies that provide financing to customers in Texas to purchase and lease equipment may be shocked to learn that their interest expense may not be deductible as a cost of goods sold (“COGS”). In Texas, a “lending institution” that offers loans to the public is authorized to subtract an amount equal to their interest expense as COGS. Tex. Tax Code Ann. § 171.1012(k) . However, it is unclear what the phrase “loans to the public” means.
A recently released Policy Letter Ruling did little to clarify this, and only muddied the waters further regarding what “loans to the public” means when a multi-state financial services company provides loans for the purchase or lease of a related affiliate’s equipment. The ruling denied the deduction of interest expense as a COGS to a wholly-owned finance subsidiary that qualified as a “lending institution” and was engaged in the business of financing heavy construction equipment sold or leased by its parent company to unrelated third-party customers. Tex. Pol. Ltr. Rul. No. 201101133L (Jan. 6, 2011) (released July 2011). A qualifying “lending institution” includes an entity that makes loans and is regulated by a federal regulatory authority, the Texas Department of Banking, Office of Consumer Credit, Credit Union Department, Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending. Tex. Tax Code Ann. § 171.0001(10).