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Sales and Use Tax Desk Book, 1992-93 ed.

Sales and Use Tax Desk Book, 1992-93 Edition. By American Bar Association Section of Taxation (D. Michael Young and John T. Piper, eds.). Washington, D.C. American Bar Association Section of Taxation, 1993. $240.00 ($195.00 for members of the American Bar Association Section of Taxation).

If state taxation is a growth industry, sales and use taxation is its leading product. In recent years, sales and use taxes have become the single most important revenue source for the states, amounting to roughly one-third of all state tax collections.(1) Moreover, the scope of state sales taxes seems to expand every day, with state after state adding previously untaxed transactions, especially in the service sector, to the sales tax base. Indeed, the task of describing the sales tax consequences of particular transactions for clients is like trying to hit a moving target.

In this environment, the American Bar Association Section of Taxation's Sales and Use Tax Desk Book, 1992-93 Edition is a godsend. In one volume, the ABA Tax Section has compiled a description of the sales and use tax regimes in 45 states and the District of Columbia.(2) The Sales and Use Tax Desk Book is much more than a mere recitation of the pertinent statutes. The descriptions ably summarize the import of particular provisions and frequently include references or discussions of interpretative materials such as cases or regulations. Any one who has attempted to decipher the morass of statutory, regulatory, and adjudicatory materials that constitute the "law" of sales and use taxation in any state will immediately appreciate the enormous amount of work that has gone into preparing the Sales and Use Tax Desk Book as well as the valuable service it provides to practitioners in the area.

One of the most useful features of the Sales and Tax Desk Book is its consistent organizational format for each state. Someone faced, for example, with the question of how the states treat warranties can look to the pertinent subsection of each state's analysis to find the answer for that state. The descriptions and analyses are generously annotated allowing the state tax adviser to find the original sources quickly, if he or she feels that further study is warranted.

Another commendable feature of the Sales and Use Tax Desk Book is its identification and treatment of special and problem situations, such as data processing, equipment leases, and construction contracts. (Particularly with respect to a service like data processing, which has been the subject of much legislative and judicial attention, one cannot overestimate the benefit of having available an up-to-date summary of the situation in each state by local lawyers well versed in the law and practice of such state.)

As good as the Sales and Use Tax Desk Book is, it is important to recognize what it is not. It is not a substitute for the statutes, regulations, and case law that it summarizes. Tax practitioners would be well advised to consult the actual source material before opining on the law in any jurisdiction. Nor does the Sales and Use Tax Desk Book provide an in-depth analysis of the many issues that it canvasses. Such analysis is simply beyond the scope of a single-volume work that considers the laws of 46 different jurisdictions. Nevertheless, as a quick reference to the sales and use tax laws in the United States - and as a starting point for analysis of virtually every issue arising under sales and use taxes - the Sales and Use Tax Desk Book performs a unique and invaluable service. For the state tax professional who deals with sales and use taxes in more than one state, it is difficult to imagine an investment that would repay itself more quickly than the Sales and Use Tax Desk Book. In short, no desk of any state tax professional should be without it.

(1) U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Quarterly Summary of Federal, State and Local Revenue, January-March 1992, Table 5 GT/92-Q1 (1993). For the year ending March 1992, general sales and gross receipts taxes were $105 billion; total state tax collections were $322 billion. Id.

(2) Only Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon lack general state-wide sales taxes. Alaska has local sales taxes, which are described in the Sales and Use Tax Desk Book.
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Author:Hellerstein, Walter
Publication:Tax Executive
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 1993
Words:719
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