Wine bar’s programmable cards not subject to tax exemption

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An Indianapolis wine bar’s programmable cards that customers purchase to dispense samples are not subject to resale tax exemption, the Indiana Tax Court ruled Monday.

Judge Mary Blood Wentworth affirmed the final determination of the Indiana Department of Revenue in Tannins of Indianapolis, LLC v. Indiana Department of State Revenue, 49T10-1303-SC-45. The business operates the Tastings wine bar in downtown Indianapolis. Visitors use prepaid programmable cards allowing them to choose and pay for wine by the glass, including 9 percent sales tax.

Tannins appealed proposed assessments for 2009, 2010 and 2011. The wine bar claimed its purchases of the cards were exempt from sales and use tax because it resold them to customers.

“This Court has consistently explained that for a resale to exist, the buyer and seller must separately bargain for the property in exchange for the payment of consideration,” Wentworth wrote. Tannins could not prevail on its argument that the cards should be exempt because they were a secondary object delivered prior to the main object of the transaction, the wine samples.

“This distinction lacks legal significance," Wentworth wrote. "Tannins did not present any legal authority or any rationale to persuade the Court that the timing of delivery changes this standard’s usefulness.

“Tannins’ purchases of tasting cards are not exempt from use tax under Indiana Code § 6-2.5-5-8(b), the purchase for resale exemption. The Court therefore affirms the Department’s final determination.”


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