August 17, 1981
********** ("Store") is a department store where customers may have photographs taken of their children for a charge. The Store collects the sales tax from its customers on sales of such photographs. You inquire whether the sales tax applies to the Store's purchases of Polaroid SX-70 film cartridges for exclusive use in taking such photographs.
The SX-70 cartridge contains all the components of the finished photos it produces, as well as a battery that supplies power for the camera. When a picture is taken, a motor in the camera ejects exposed photographic paper from the cartridge, and, within seconds, the image is automatically developed directly on the paper.
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 64H, Section 2 imposes an excise on sales at retail of tangible personal property in Massachusetts. "Sale at retail" does not include sales for resale in the regular course of business. Chapter 64H, Section 1(13).
Based on the foregoing, it is ruled that sales of Polaroid SX-70 film cartridges for exclusive use in taking photographs to be sold in the regular course of business are not subject to tax. Sales of other film or film cartridges that do not constitute or contain the components of finished photographs are subject to tax when sold to photographers, even if purchased for use in producing photographs to be sold.
Very truly yours,
/s/L. Joyce Hampers
L. Joyce Hampers
Commissioner of Revenue