Huntington Publishing Co. v. Caryl

In Huntington Publishing Co. v. Caryl, 180 W.Va. 486, 377 S.E.2d 479 (1988), the issue before the Court was whether a taxable "retail sale" occurred between a newspaper and its subscribers within the meaning of a business and occupation tax, notwithstanding the newspaper's assertion that the carriers were "independent contractors" who bought their papers at wholesale and sold them at retail to subscribers. Syllabus Point 2 of Huntington Publishing states: "When route carriers for a newspaper publishing company are required to deliver their papers to all points on a route at a time designated by the publishing company; and, when district sales managers, who are employees of the publishing company, act as liaisons between the carriers and the subscribers by supervising the daily activities of the carriers and by responding to complaints from subscribers; and, when the publishing company receives payments for prepaid subscriptions, route carriers are agents of the publishing company for the purpose of making retail sales to customers, and such retail sales are taxable to the publishing company under our former Business and Occupation Tax, W.Va. Code, 11-13-1 et seq." In Huntington Publishing, the Court stated that the newspaper company's "ability to release a carrier [without a stated reason] effectively controls the carrier's method of operation.