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The Complexity of Headstone Taxation in Wisconsin

1 min readBy: Joseph Bishop-Henchman

Do you need to pay sales taxA sales tax is levied on retail sales of goods and services and, ideally, should apply to all final consumption with few exemptions. Many governments exempt goods like groceries; base broadening, such as including groceries, could keep rates lower. A sales tax should exempt business-to-business transactions which, when taxed, cause tax pyramiding. on the purchase of a cemetery headstone in Wisconsin? The answer is apparently complex enough that the state has issued an eight-column pamphlet on the subject (PDF).

The state publication gives a number of different scenarios. Purchasing a pre-installed headstone? Not taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. able:

A monument dealer sells a monument for $1,500 to a customer. This $1,500 includes installing the monument to the cement foundation at the cemetery. Is this $1,500 sale taxable?

Answer: No. The sale of real property is not taxable.

Purchasing a headstone and then installing it? The purchase is taxable and the installation is not:

A customer buys a monument for $1,500 from Company A (no installation involved). Company B is then hired by the customer to install the monument at the cemetery for $300.

Is the $1,500 sale of the monument by Company A to the customer taxable?

Answer: Yes. This transaction is a sale of tangible personal property.

Is the installation charge of $300 by Company B taxable?

Answer: No. The installation of the monument is a real property improvement, the sale of which is not taxable.

And so on.

And don’t forget local sales taxes and “stadium taxes,” the publication helpfully reminds the reader.