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Letter Ruling

Letter Ruling Letter Ruling 81-76: Newsletters

Date: 08/13/1981
Organization: Massachusetts Department of Revenue
Referenced Sources: Massachusetts General Laws

Sales and Use Tax


August 13, 1981

********* ("Company") is engaged in the business of publishing and selling newsletters by subscription. The newsletters contain timely information of special interest to particular segments of the business community. (One such newsletter, for example, is devoted entirely to information relating to the recruitment of certain professionals.)

You inquire whether the Massachusetts sales tax applies to amounts charged the Company by ********** ("Printer") for the reproduction of such newsletters.

The Company provides the Printer with a "camera-copy original" of each newsletter. The Printer produces copies in Massachusetts from the original, and delivers them directly to a Massachusetts mailing house for mailing to subscribers, most of whom are located outside Massachusetts.

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 64H, Section 2 imposes an excise on sales at retail of tangible personal property in Massachusetts. "Sale" is defined in Section 1(12) of Chapter 64H as including:

"(a) Any transfer of title or possession, or both,...of tangible personal property for a consideration, in any manner or by any means whatsoever.




(e) A transfer for a consideration of the title or possession of tangible personal property which has been produced, fabricated or printed to the special order of the customer, or of any publication.


(f) The furnishing of information by printed, mimeographed or multigraphed matter or by duplicating written or printed matter in any other manner, including the services of collecting compiling or analyzing information of any kind or nature and furnishing reports thereof to other persons, but excluding the furnishing of information which is personal or individual in nature and which is not or may not be substantially incorporated in reports furnished to other persons…"

"Sale at retail" means a sale of tangible personal property for any purpose other than resale in the regular course of business (G.L. c. 64H, s. 1(13)). The Department of Revenue's Sales and Use Tax Regulation on Printing provides that

"[s]ale for resale occurs when a printer sells printed matter such as cards, books or invitations to his customer, who will resell that printed matter in the normal course of business. The printer shall not be obligated to collect the sales tax on printed matter sold if the printer accepts a resale certificate in good faith from his customer." (830 CMR 64H.04(3)(a)).

All gross receipts of a vendor from sales of tangible personal property are presumed to be from sales subject to tax unless the vendor takes a resale certificate (Form ST-4) in good faith from a purchaser who is himself a registered Massachusetts vendor (G.L. c. 64H, s. 8).

The sales tax does not apply to sales of newspapers or magazines (G.L. c. 64H, s. 6(m)), nor does it apply to sales of printed material manufactured in the Commonwealth to the special order of a purchaser, to the extent such material is delivered to an interstate carrier, a mailing house, or a United States Post Office for delivery or mailing to a purchaser located outside the Commonwealth or to a purchaser's designee located outside the Commonwealth (G.L. c. 64H, s. 6(ff)).

Based on the foregoing, it is ruled that the Printer is selling the newsletters to the Company for resale to the Company's subscribers in the regular course of business; therefore, the sales tax does not apply to the Printer's charges for the newsletters if the Company presents a resale certificate in connection with the sales. The Company's sales of the newsletters to Massachusetts subscribers are subject to tax.

Very truly yours,

/s/L. Joyce Hampers

L. Joyce Hampers
Commissioner of Revenue


LR 81-76

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