March 20, 1981
********** ("Company") provides a "private mailbox service." Individuals pay five dollars per month and businesses ten dollars per month for the Company to pick up and sort their mail and place it in mailboxes on the Company's business premises. Each individual or business has exclusive access to its own mailbox.
The cost to the Company of each mailbox is less than five per cent of the total charges to customers who will use the box over its useful life.
You inquire whether charges for the "personal mailbox service" are subject to the sales tax.
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 64H, Section 2 imposes an excise on sales at retail of tangible personal property in Massachusetts. "Sale" is defined in Chapter 64H, Section 1(12) as including
"[a]ny transfer of title or possession, or both, exchange, barter, lease, rental, conditional or otherwise, of tangible personal property for a consideration, in any manner or by any means whatsoever."
Section 1(13) of Chapter 64H provides that "sale at retail" does not include "personal service transactions which involve no sale or which involve sales as inconsequential elements for which no separate charges are made;" but under Section 1(14)(b) any amount paid for any services that are a part of a sale must be included in the "sales price" on which the tax is based.
Based on the foregoing, it is ruled that the Company's charges for the "private mailbox service" are not subject to tax.
Very truly yours,
/s/L. Joyce Hampers
L. Joyce Hampers
Commissioner of Revenue
LJH:JXD:mf
LR 81-27