DEPARTMENT OF STATE REVENUE
Letter of Findings: 04-20120179
For the 2009 Tax Year
NOTICE: Under IC § 4-22-7-7, this document is required to be published in the Indiana Register and is effective on its date of publication. It shall remain in effect until the date it is superseded or deleted by the publication of a new document in the Indiana Register. The publication of the document will provide the general public with information about the Department's official position concerning a specific issue.
Taxpayer protests the imposition of use tax and interest on the purchase of horses.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
The Indiana Department of Revenue ("Department") determined that Taxpayer had not paid sales tax on horses that he acquired in transactions that occurred in Indiana. Given that Taxpayer had not paid sales tax, the Department issued a proposed assessment for use tax (and interest). Taxpayer filed a protest regarding the proposed assessment, and an administrative hearing was held. This Letter of Finding results from that hearing. More facts will be provided as needed below.
At the outset, it should be noted that the Department's tax assessments are prima facie evidence that the Department's claim for the tax is valid; the taxpayer bears the burden of proving that any assessment is incorrect. IC § 6-8.1-5-1(c).
The Department found that Taxpayer purchased horses in Indiana by means of "claiming transactions." Regarding "claiming" and horse racing, 71 IAC 6.5-1-1
, states in part:
(a) A person entering a horse in a claiming race warrants that the title to the horse is free and clear of any existing claim or lien, either as security interest mortgage, bill of sale, or lien of any kind; unless before entering the horse, the written consent of the holder of the claim or lien has been filed with the stewards and the racing secretary and its entry approved by the stewards. A transfer of ownership arising from a recognized claiming race will terminate any existing prior lease for the horse.
(b) Title to a claimed horse shall be vested in the successful claimant at the time the horse leaves the starting gate and is declared an official starter. The successful claimant shall then become the owner of the horse whether it be alive or dead, sound or unsound, or injured at any time, during the race or after. However, the successful claimant may request on the claim blank at the time the successful claimant makes the claim that the horse be tested for the presence of equine infectious anemia via a Coggins test, or other test as approved by the official veterinarian. Should this test prove positive, it shall be cause for voiding the claim. The expense of the test and the maintenance of the horse during the period requested for the test shall be the responsibility of the successful claimant, unless the test proves positive, wherein the owner or owners of the horse at the time of entry shall be responsible.
(a) Any horse starting in a claiming race is subject to be claimed for its entered price by any:
(1) licensed owner; or
(2) holder of a valid claim certificate; or
(3) licensed authorized agent acting on behalf of an eligible claimant.
(b) Every horse claimed shall race for the account of the original owner, but title to the horse shall be transferred to the claimant at the time the horse leaves the starting gate. The successful claimant shall become the owner of the horse, regardless of whether it is alive or dead, sound or unsound, or injured prior to, during, or after the race.
For a period of thirty (30) days after a claim, a horse shall not start in a race in which the determining eligibility price is less than the price at which it was claimed. The day claimed shall not count for purposes of counting the applicable thirty (30) day period, and for this purpose the immediate following calendar day after the day claimed shall be the first day. The horse shall be entitled to enter whenever necessary so that the horse may start on the thirty-first calendar day following the claim for any claiming price.
Claiming races are a method of determining the price of a horse, with the successful claimant taking title to the horse "at the time the horse leaves the starting gate and is declared an official starter." Taxpayer was the claimant of horses that were raced in claiming races. The Department assessed tax based upon the claiming amount paid by Taxpayer for the horses.
Turning to Indiana sales and use tax law, Indiana imposes a sales tax on retail transactions and a complementary use tax on tangible personal property that is stored, used, or consumed in the state. IC § 6-2.5-2-1 states:
(a) An excise tax, known as the state gross retail tax, is imposed on retail transactions made in Indiana.
(b) The person who acquires property in a retail transaction is liable for the tax on the transaction and, except as otherwise provided in this chapter, shall pay the tax to the retail merchant as a separate added amount to the consideration in the transaction. The retail merchant shall collect the tax as agent for the state.
Use tax is imposed by IC § 6-2.5-3-2(a), which states:
An excise tax, known as the use tax, is imposed on the storage, use, or consumption of tangible personal property in Indiana if the property was acquired in a retail transaction, regardless of the location of that transaction or of the retail merchant making that transaction.
Tangible personal property, purchased in Indiana, or elsewhere in a retail transaction, and stored, used, or otherwise consumed in Indiana is subject to Indiana use tax for such property, unless the Indiana state gross retail tax has been collected at the point of purchase.
The purchase of a horse is subject to Indiana's sales/use tax, since horses are tangible personal property. IC § 6-2.5-1-27, which defines tangible personal property, states:
"Tangible personal property" means personal property that:
(1) can be seen, weighed, measured, felt, or touched; or
(2) is in any other manner perceptible to the senses.
The term includes electricity, water, gas, steam, and prewritten computer software.
The next issue is whether or not the purchase of the horses was exempt in Indiana. IC § 6-2.5-5-1, an exemption statute, states:
Transactions involving animals, feed, seed, plants, fertilizer, insecticides, fungicides, and other tangible personal property are exempt from the state gross retail tax if:
(1) the person acquiring the property acquires it for his direct use in the direct production of food and food ingredients or commodities for sale or for further use in the production of food and food ingredients or commodities for sale; and
(2) the person acquiring the property is occupationally engaged in the production of food and food ingredients or commodities which he sells for human or animal consumption or uses for further food and food ingredient or commodity production.
(a) The raising of saddle horses, harness horses, ponies, donkeys, or any other similar animals not used directly in direct agricultural production does not qualify as agricultural production for "human consumption" under the gross retail sales and use tax act. Consequently, the purchase of supplies, food, materials, and equipment used in raising or maintaining such animals are subject to the sales tax unless the items are directly used or consumed in the production of such animals for resale in the regular course of the purchaser's business.
(b) The purchase of any of the above animals is subject to the sales tax unless the purchaser is a registered retail merchant and is buying such animal for resale in the regular course of his business.
In Taxpayer's case, the horses at issue were race horses. Thus the race horses do not come within the scope of sales tax exemption found at IC § 6-2.5-5-1 (as noted above, for the exemption to apply the animal has to be for the "direct use in the direct production of food....").
Taxpayer argues that the ownership of the horses can change frequently. The resale exemption is stated in IC § 6-2.5-5-8(b) and states:
Transactions involving tangible personal property other than a new motor vehicle are exempt from the state gross retail tax if the person acquiring the property acquires it for resale, rental, or leasing in the ordinary course of the person's business without changing the form of the property.
To meet the requirements of this statute, Taxpayer must acquire the horses for resale in his ordinary course of business. However, Taxpayer does not purchase horses to simply resell the horse. The horses are bought for racing purposes, not for resale in the ordinary course of Taxpayer's business. Also, an owner that purchases a race horse by means of a claiming race could decide not to race the horse again (in that potential scenario, the horse would not be resold).
The Department also notes that the purchase of the horses by means of a claiming race at an Indiana horse racing track does not meet the requirements of a casual sale outlined in Sales Tax Information Bulletin 20, (October 2009), 20091125 Ind. Reg. 045090898NRA. The horses are bought at the horse track, not at the residence of a prior horse owner.
In conclusion, Taxpayer purchased race horses at claiming races; Taxpayer failed to pay sales tax at the time of purchase. Thus use tax was properly assessed by the Department. Taxpayer has not met the burden imposed by IC 6-8.1-5-1
Taxpayer's protest is respectfully denied.
Posted: 09/26/2012 by Legislative Services Agency
Composed: Oct 21,2014 1:13:15PM EDT
version of this document.