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Sales Tax Regulations

State of Rhode Island - Division of Taxation

Sales and Use Tax

Regulation SU 07-87


Direct Mail, Printing and Related Industries

I. Generally - Tax applies to charges for printing, lithography, photolithography, rotogravure, gravure, silk screen printing, imprinting multilithing, multigraphing, mimeographing, photocopying, photostats, steel die engraving, and similar operations for consumers regardless of whether or not the paper and other materials are furnished by the consumer.

II. Services and Direct Mail (a) Services - Tax applies to charges for services that are part of the sale of tangible personal property to consumers such as overtime and set-up charges and charges for die cutting, embossing, folding and other operations except as noted in (b) below. Tax applies regardless of whether or not the materials or any part thereof are furnished by the customer.

(b) Direct Mail

“Direct mail” means printed material delivered or distributed by United States mail or other delivery service to a mass audience or to addressees on a mailing list provided by the purchaser or at the direction of the purchaser when the cost of the items are not billed directly to the recipients. “Direct mail” includes tangible personal property supplied directly or indirectly by the purchaser to the direct mail seller for inclusion in the package containing the printed material. “Direct mail” does not include multiple items of printed material delivered to a single address.

Tax does not apply to the following direct mail charges provided such charges are stated separately on invoices and in the accounting records:

  • Postage
  • Addressing for the purpose of mailing (by hand or by mechanical means)
  • Folding for the purpose of mailing
  • Enclosing
  • Sealing
  • Preparing for mailing
  • Mailing letters or other printed matters

Tax applies, however, to charges for envelopes.

III. Printers are consumers of special printing aids such as electrotypes, stereotypes, photo engravings, silk screens, steel dies, cutting dies, lithographic plates, artwork, single color or multicolor separation negatives, flats or any other properties purchased for use in the preparation of printed matter to be sold.

Special printing aids purchased, or fabricated from raw materials purchased, that have a limited and sole intended function in the process of completing a specific printing order to be sold are exempt from the tax. All other printing aides are subject to the tax.