This bulletin will serve as MITA’s annual reminder to our contractor members of the issue of tax liability on construction materials that are being incorporated in projects of tax-exempt owners. Contractors performing work for public agencies, churches and schools are often faced with this precarious issue.
Many of these owners believe that their tax-exempt status allows them to purchase the materials that will be incorporated in their construction projects tax free, thus saving money for those represented by that owner. However, unless those owners are performing the work of installing the materials on the project themselves, this belief is misguided and completely false.
As a contractor installing these “owner perceived tax free” materials, you will bear the full responsibility of the use and sales tax that is due once the project is completed. A contractor need not purchase or own the materials being incorporated in a project to incur a use tax liability. Use tax is due in situations where the contractor receives the materials from its customer when the customer has purchased the materials without the payment of sales or use tax. So beware, because this issue often doesn’t arise until after you have closed out the job and final payment has been made.
In order to avoid any confusion or financial hardship, please do not hesitate to share this bulletin with owners that seem to believe otherwise on this issue. Contractors should convey the fact that their quantity discount is likely a better buy than any single purchase price that an owner could ever hope to get.