August 20, 1982

You inquire whether charges for the following transactions undertaken by your sign business, **********,are subject to the Massachusetts sales tax:

(1) painting letters on a customer's truck or store window;

(2) painting letters on a customer's sign;

(3) repainting and lettering a customer's sign. The customer may bring the sign to your shop to have the work performed or may have the work performed on his premises;

(4) building, painting and lettering a sign at your shop using materials supplied by the customer.

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 64H, Section 2 imposes an excise on sales at retail of tangible personal property.

Section 1(13)(c) of Chapter 64H excludes from the definition of "sale at retail"

"personal service transactions which involve no sale or which involve sales as inconsequential elements for which no separate charges are made."

"Sale" is defined in Chapter 64H, Section 1(12) as including

"[t]he producing, fabricating, processing, printing or imprinting of tangible personal property for a consideration for consumers who furnish either directly or indirectly the materials used in the producing, fabricating, processing, printing or imprinting".

General Laws Chapter 64H, Section 1(14) provides that any amount paid for any services that are a part of the sale must be included in determining the sales price, and that no deduction may be taken on account of the cost of materials used, labor or service cost, or other expenses.

Based on the foregoing, it is ruled that:

1. The sign business' charge to customers for building, painting and lettering a customer's sign at the shop is subject to the sales tax, regardless of who supplies the materials. The sales price subject to tax is the total amount charged, whether or not the charge for paint or other materials is separately stated.

2. The sign business' charge to customers for painting letters on a customer's sign or for repainting and lettering a customer's sign is subject to the sales tax, whether the customer chooses to bring the sign to the shop to have the work performed or to have the work performed on his premises. The sales price subject to tax is the total amount charged, whether or not the charge for paint or other materials is separately stated.

3. The sign business' charge to customers for painting letters on a customer's truck, door or store window is not subject to the tax. In this instance, the sign business is the consumer of the paint that it purchases for use in the lettering and must pay the sales and use tax on the paint.

Very truly yours,

/s/L. Joyce Hampers

L. Joyce Hampers
Commissioner of Revenue

LJH:JD:mf

LR 82-83