Wedding photography sale tax – A big confusion

Almost everything you buy, you pay sale tax. When it comes to wedding photography, you pay sale tax… or don’t you? This matter is so complicated and usually misunderstood.

While many of our clients expect that they will pay photography sale tax, over the years, many others were surprised to know that they have to pay sale tax. They were confused and seemed unhappy to pay for their wedding photography sale tax. Many others just left and went with other photographers who they said didn’t charge sale tax.

A disclaimer: We are photographers, not lawyers. All information provided is for self-help and general informational and educational purposes only. Law is always changing. This is not legal advice. For legal advice, please consult your attorney.

 

“Why do you charge photography sale tax?”

Because we are required by Texas law. Our wedding photography business is lawfully registered and we comply with the law to protect our business as well as you. According to Comptroller.Texas.Gov:

In addition to the taxable services noted above, other types of sales that may commonly be considered “services” are taxable as the sale, processing or remodeling of tangible personal property.

For example, tax is due on charges for manufacturing, assembling, fabricating or processing products, even when the customer provides the raw materials, tools or equipment.

Examples of labor that result in the sale of a taxable item include the following:

  • photography and videography

In addition, per Sec. 151.009. “TANGIBLE PERSONAL PROPERTY”.

“Tangible personal property” means personal property that can be seen, weighed, measured, felt, or touched or that is perceptible to the senses in any other manner, and, for the purposes of this chapter, the term includes a computer program and a telephone prepaid calling card.

With that being said, digital photos are subject to sale tax and therefore, all the labor that result in this sale are also taxable.

So, if your photographer charges sale tax, don’t freak out. Indeed, it’s a good sign to know that you are working with a professional who runs a legitimate business. States & government increasingly audit small businesses like photography businesses. Does it worth the risk of never getting your photos because he/she was audited and bankrupted? No, it’s not worth it. Trust a professional and pay the tax.

 

“The other photographers say sale tax is included in their packages.”

Many photographers say they include sale tax in their packages so that you don’t have to pay extra. We believe they can do that. But if they say so, they should write down the exact amount of tax they charge on the contract. If you don’t see it, they might be lying to you. You wouldn’t know if they will file it with the government, or they won’t file at all and keep everything (which is a BIG NO for a legitimate business to do).

Let’s take an example of a package worth $3000, our contract will look like this:


Package details: [description of package]

Subtotal: $3000.00

Tax (8.25%): $247.50

Total: $3247.50


The tax line in our contract that clearly lists the amount. It’s easy for our book keeping. It’s transparent for you. Just like many receipts you have, the tax is on a separate line.

If there is only 1 total line, at the end of the year, we have to re-calculate everything to find the correct tax amount. It is too much work and will introduce so many errors. That’s why we write them down from the beginning.

Our advice is if your photographer says their package includes sale tax, ask him/her to write down the tax amount. If he/she cannot, be careful and think again!

 

Once again: “Does it worth the risk of never getting your photos because the business was audited and bankrupted? No, it’s not worth it. Trust a professional and pay the tax.” We can answer some questions about the wedding photography sale tax, but your state’s tax board is the best place to go. The folks at Comptroller.Texas.Gov are helpful and will gladly help you with any questions. Here’s their number: 800-252-5555. Better safe than sorry later.

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