Laws, Regulations & Annotations

Business Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2018

Sales and Use Tax Annotations

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Annotation 330.2314.920


330.2314.920 Lessor Required to File Returns. Lessor rents small pick-up trucks and cargo vans to customers of a retailer of other property (retailer) for short terms, generally three hours or less. The lessor has no rental locations other than the retailer's location. The vehicles are not mobile transportation equipment. The vehicles are rented by the customers at the retailer's service counters. The retailer's employees handle all facets of the rental arrangements, processing all paperwork and checking the vehicle in and out. The vehicle rental agreement between the lessor and the individual customer explicitly provides that the retailer is not a party to contract and accepts no responsibility or liability under the contract. The retailer collects the rental amounts on behalf of the lessor, and also adds and collects California use tax from the customers on the rental receipts. The transactions are recorded on the retailer's point of sales computer system, which tracks revenue and use tax collected. The contract between the retailer and the lessor requires the retailer to remit to the lessor the net proceeds from the rental agreements, less the use taxes collected and an agreed fee payable by the lessor to the retailer. The contract also states that the retailer assumes responsibility for the remittance of collected use tax to the governmental authorities.

A review of the actual contracts might indicate that the lessor will actually be leasing the vehicles to the retailer for sublease to its customers. Assuming such is not the case and the lessor is leasing the vehicles to the retailer's customer, the lessor is required to report and remit to the Board the tax due on the rentals payable by the lessees. That is, the retailer may not report the tax on its returns. Instead, the tax must be reported on separate returns filed by the lessor. Of course, the lessor may authorize the retailer to act as its agent to prepare, sign, and file the returns on the lessor's behalf. Even if it does so, the retailer may not combine that return with its own return, but must file a separate return under the lessor's name. 1/29/97.