In June 2010, we announced the launch of an initiative focusing on Cloud Computing ('Transcending the Cloud' - Reed Smith Announces White Paper Series & Legal Initiative on Cloud Computing), showcased with a series of individual and topical white papers, in time being compiled into a comprehensive work entitled, “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing.” One of the first in our series was a paper on the state tax implications of cloud computing, entitled: “Pennies From Heaven”
Just as clouds have different shapes, sizes and shades of gray, different states are approaching taxation of cloud transactions differently. Well now, our State Tax practice reports that taxing storm clouds are gathering over Utah. In a marked about-face from the state's previously issued guidance, the Utah Sales Tax Commission has ruled that web services that charge a fee constitute sale of a service, subject to sales tax. The implication being that mere access of or to an application is enough to subject the provider to a tax liability.
Notable for cloud computing providers, even though the product at issue was access to remotely hosted software that allowed users to conduct webinars "in the cloud," allowing customers to download a free device application for access to that service had the state seeing "software" (sales of which are subject to sales tax in Utah). With at least one state looking at clouds from the application side now, it will be interesting to see if other states quickly follow.
For more information about the Utah ruling, or to stay on top of the developments in the taxation cloud products and platforms, visit www.taxingtech.com. To get legal assistance and guidance from someone who really knows that state of state taxation of cloud computing, contact Kelley C. Miller directly. Of course, you can always find out more about our Cloud Computing initiative or get the assistance you need by contacting me, Joseph I. ("Joe") Rosenbaum, or the Reed Smith attorney with whom you regularly work.