Sales Tax and Automobile Repair

Automobile repair in Iowa is taxable to the final consumer.

Repair is defined as any type of restoration, renovation, or replacement of any motor, engine, working parts, accessories, body, or interior of motor vehicles.

Repair does NOT include the installation of new parts or accessories which are not replacements but are added to vehicles. These installations are exempt unless they involve a service that is ordinarily taxable. However, all sales of parts and accessories are taxable to the final consumer, even if the labor to install them is not.

Exempt Materials

Chemicals, solvents, sorbent, reagents, or other tangible personal property used in providing a vehicle repair service are exempt from sales tax if the chemicals, solvents, sorbents, reagents, or other tangible personal property:

1. Are directly and primarily used in providing the vehicle repair service;
2. Are consumed or dissipated in providing the vehicle repair service;
3. Will come into physical contact with the vehicle upon which the vehicle repair service is performed; and
4. Cannot be used to provide multiple vehicle repair services, including, but not limited to, machinery, tools, and equipment.

The following is a list of frequently used materials that are normally exempt when purchased by auto shops. Exempt materials are not limited to this list:

abrasives

body filler or putty

body lead

bolts, nuts and washers

brake fluid

cleaning compounds

degreasing compounds

lubricants

masking tape

paint

polishes

rivets and cotter pins

sand paper

sanding discs

sealer and primer

sheet metal

solder

solvents

spark plug sand

striping tape

thinner

upholstery tacks

waxes

white sidewall cleaner

 

Taxable Materials

Auto shops are considered final consumers of certain materials used in servicing and repairing motor vehicles. These materials are taxable when purchased by the auto shop because they are not normally transferred in a form or quantity capable of a fixed or definite price value, do not come into physical contact with the vehicle, or can normally be used to provide multiple vehicle repair services.

The following is a list of frequently used materials that are normally taxable when purchased by auto shops. Taxable materials are not limited to this list:

accessories

buffing pads

chamois

floor dry

hydraulic jack oil

rags

scuff pads

 

Taxable Tools and Supplies

The following are examples of shop tools and supplies which are not generally transferred to the customer during repair or they can normally be used to provide multiple vehicle repair services. They should not be purchased for resale. At the time of purchase, tax should be paid by the auto shop to the seller of the tools and supplies. Taxable tools and supplies are not limited to this list:

air compressors and parts

body frame straightening equipment

brooms and mops

buffers

chisels

drill bits

drop cords

equipment parts

floor jacks

hand soap

hand tools

office supplies

paint brushes

paint sprayers

sanders

spreaders for putty

signs

washing equipment and parts

welding equipment and parts

 

Purchases of Parts for Resale

Parts purchased for resale by auto shops are exempt. Resale purchases must meet ALL of the following conditions:

The auto shop should present the supplier with a sales tax exemption certificate at the time of the purchase. The supplier should keep the certificate with other records to show that no sales tax was required.

Examples of parts that might be purchased for resale include, but are not limited to the following:

batteries

brackets

bulbs

bumpers

cab corners

chassis parts

doors

door guards

door handles

engine parts

fenders

floor mats

grills

headlamps

hoods

hub caps

radiators

rocker panels

shock absorbers

side molding

spark plugs

tires

trim

trunk lids

wheels

window glass

windshield ribbon

windshields

 

Services Used in Processing

Similar to purchases for resale, auto services that recondition or repair motor vehicles are exempt when the motor vehicle repaired is normally sold in the regular course of the retailer’s business and is held for resale. Use tax will be collected from the sale of the motor vehicle when it is sold to a consumer.

Example: A used car dealer owns a car lot and contracts with a repair shop to repair a used car that the dealer is going to sell. The dealer can purchase the repair service and parts from the shop tax free because the dealer regularly sells cars and tax will be paid when the car is sold and registered with the county treasurer.

Itemized Bills

Auto shops may itemize bills, showing which items are services, which are parts, and which are consumed materials (materials used in repair that do not become a part of the vehicle). When itemizing occurs, shops should collect sales tax on the services and parts, but not on the consumed materials. If the bill is not itemized, the full charge is subject to tax.

Example: An auto shop replaces a muffler and paints a motor vehicle. The shop uses rags, sealer and primer, paint, solder, thinner, bolts, nuts and washers, masking tape, sandpaper, waxes, buffing pads, chamois, and polishes. In the invoice to the customer, the labor is separately listed at $300, the fender is listed at $300, and the category of "materials" is listed at a lump sum of $100 for a total billing of $700.

The shop computes the sales tax on $600, which is the amount of labor and parts. The materials should not be included in the tax amount; no sales tax is charged on the $100.

In this example, if the materials were not separately listed on the invoice, but had been included in either or both of the labor or part charges by marking up those charges, the auto shop would have to collect sales tax on the full charges for parts and labor.

Disposal Fees

A fee charged for the disposal of an item in connection with the performance of a taxable service is subject to sales tax if the disposal fee is not separately itemized on the bill. However, if the fee for the disposal is separately itemized, then the disposal fee is not subject to tax. Items that may be subject to a disposal fee in connection with vehicle repair include, but are not limited to, air filters, oil, tires, and batteries.

Truck and Trailer Repair

(Interstate Commerce)

Repairs of trucks or trailers performed in Iowa are subject to Iowa sales tax whether or not the owner has an ICC exemption number (or M.C. Docket Number). This includes both labor and parts.

Example: A delivery truck traveling from Kansas to Minnesota breaks down in Iowa. The truck needs a new fuel pump. Iowa sales tax is charged on the labor performed and the parts used in the repairs.

Household Hazardous Material Permits

Retailers who sell household hazardous material products are required to purchase a permit from the Iowa Department of Revenue. These retailers are also required to participate in a consumer information program under rules administered by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Household hazardous materials include, but are not limited to the following:

A regular household hazardous materials (HHM) permit is $25 per year. A special permit fee for manufacturers or distributors using independent agents may cost more depending on gross HHM sales. If you have questions about the permit process, contact the Iowa Department of Revenue. If you have questions about what products are considered hazardous, contact the Iowa Department of Natural Resources at 515-281-8941.

Updated 08/30/13