Thursday, May 01, 2008

Short Cuts

I've been hearing a lot about shortcuts this week in my seminars. People are being told to use "shortcuts" or "rules of thumb" to deal with difficult and complex issues. Here are a few that come to mind as I write this:

- If it's below ground, it's an improvement to real property...if it's above ground, it's not.

- The tax applies based on where the property "lands" - where it will eventually be used.

- If it's used in the plant, it's exempt.

These aren't terribly accurate. But people swear by them.

Rules of thumb or shortcuts may or may not be useful. But the thing to remember is that they are, at best, approximations of a difficult and complex issue. If you use them, recognize them for what they are: shortcuts. It's best to look at what the law actually says. That means bulletins, statutes, regulations, etc. Not shortcuts.

And remember, shortcuts can be muddy and slippery.

How's that for a cool metaphor?

Sales Tax Guy

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