Tuesday, April 22, 2014

In which I sweep up more than just janitorial services in a discussion about online resources

See what I did there....

This inquiry was received recently.  It's a pretty frequently asked question so I thought I'd take a stab at it again. 

"Do you have any articles that deal with the taxability of janitorial services for all states?"

Nope, I don't have anything like that and wouldn't publish it anyway.  I don't typically write articles with that level of minute detail.  That's what online databases are for.  I use Thomson Reuters* as my research tool (although CCH has the information as well), and I can research janitorial services for any state in a matter of moments.  Well....maybe not "moments" if there are some interesting complications.

Even if you could find such an article somewhere on a free web site, you probably can't count on it unless you're paying for it.  Let's say you find a page where someone has put together a table about the taxation of janitorial services for every state.  

My questions would be: 
  1. How often is it updated?
  2. Are there citations to specific statutes, regulations and court cases?
  3. Is the information in the list detailed enough to cover the possible exceptions and gotchas...like the interesting complications I mentioned above?
You're probably going to have to pay for that kind of reliability.

When we do a state-specific seminar, we re-research the state every time.  We don't just rely on the material we have from the last event.  We review our grid on what is taxable or not, change things where necessary, and review any updates to the sales and use tax laws since the last time we did a seminar for that state.  So when we do the seminar, we can feel comfortable that we're using the latest information.  That's one of the reasons why we don't provide recordings of these seminars.  We don't want people relying on information that can so easily go out of date.

On the other hand, I frequently find articles written by attorneys and accountants to be useful.  They are usually handy for covering a topic that isn't covered as well as I'd like on either the state's web page, or in the databases.  But they are detailed, dated and usually well-cited.  But I still have my salt-shaker nearby.

*By the way, I'm not endorsing Thomson Reuters.  Inertia keeps me using their service.  Although sometimes I wistfully think it might be more fun with CCH.   

The Sales Tax Guy

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