Qwest Dex, Inc. v. Arizona Department of Revenue

In Qwest Dex, Inc. v. Arizona Department of Revenue, 210 Ariz. 223, 109 P.3d 118 (App. 2005), the Court held the use tax was inapplicable to out-of-state printing services obtained by an Arizona taxpayer in the business of publishing telephone directories; in Service Merchandise, we held the use tax was applicable to advertising materials prepared at the taxpayer's direction and distributed by out-of-state printers for the taxpayer's use in Arizona. In Qwest, the Arizona taxpayer was in the business of publishing telephone directories. It contracted with out-of-state printing companies to print the directories; it separately contracted with out-of-state paper mills, however, for the paper which the mills then furnished to the printing companies. The taxpayer allowed the printing companies to accept and pay for the paper on its behalf. The printing companies printed the directories and shipped them to the taxpayer in Arizona. The printing companies billed the taxpayer for their printing services and separately requested reimbursement from the taxpayer for the cost of the paper. The taxpayer argued it was only subject to the use tax on the paper while the Department asserted the taxpayer owed the use tax on all components of the directories -- paper and printing. Qwest, 210 Ariz. at 224-25,2-6, 109 P.3d at 119-20. The Court rejected the Department's argument and held the printing services were not subject to the use tax: We find that the act of printing the directories and the finished product (the physical directories) are distinct and easily separated. The cost is easily separated as Taxpayer (or the printers on behalf of Taxpayer) purchased the paper from another source and paid the paper source for the cost of the paper. The printers charged a fee for the printing of the directories, which was separate and distinct from the cost of the paper. Also, the transaction itself is easily separated into two transactions since one company provided the paper and a wholly different company provided the printing service. Moreover, the cost of the paper in this case was inconsequential to the cost of printing the directories. Id. at 227-28,20, 109 P.3d at 122-23.