Laws, Regulations & Annotations

Business Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2018

Sales And Use Tax Court Decisions

A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H    I    J    K    L    M    N    O    P    R    S    T    U    V    W    Y


Sunshine Art Studios of California v. State Board of Equalization . . . (1974)

Distributor of Greeting Cards Held to Be the Retailer of Cards Sold Through Agents

Plaintiff, a California corporation that distributed greeting cards to independent salesmen in California and other western states, sought a refund of taxes paid by it, contending that the salesmen were the actual retailers of the cards. The salesmen, who were solicited by an out-of-state corporation associated with plaintiff, forwarded orders to that corporation who in turn forwarded them to plaintiff. Plaintiff mailed the cards, which were drawn from stocks acquired from its out-of-state parent corporation, directly to the salesmen. The Board had ordered that plaintiff, rather than the salesmen, be regarded as the retailer of the cards pursuant to Revenue and Taxation Code Section 6015 which provides that the Board may, for the efficient administration of the Sales Tax Law, regard salesmen as agents of the distributors ". . . under whom they operate or from whom they obtain the tangible personal property sold by them . . ." and the distributors as retailers.

The trial court found that plaintiff distributed the cards to the salesmen, that the salesmen obtained the cards from plaintiff, and that the salesmen were so numerous that the Board could not effectively collect the tax directly from the salesmen. In affirming, the court of appeal held that plaintiff was not required to have an ownership interest in the cards to be a distributor. The fact that it was a subsidiary of the parent corporation and that the cards sent to the salesmen by plaintiff bore its identification in the form of a return address, and at times even contained sales literature inserted by it, was sufficient. The court noted that it was plaintiff which actually delivered the erecting cards to the salesmen, and that this act constituted the final service accorded to the salesmen by any of the entities. The court further held that plaintiff was not entitled to a refund with respect to sales which might have been made outside the state since it failed to offer any evidence as to which of its sales were made outside of California. Sunshine Art Studios of California v. State Board of Equalization (1974) 39 Cal.App.3d 223.