The word "advance" as used herein, means money or credits received by a taxpayer from a customer or client with which the taxpayer is to pay costs or fees for the customer or client.
The word "reimbursement" as used herein, means money or credits received from a customer or client to repay the taxpayer for money or credits expended by the taxpayer in payment of costs or fees for the client.
The words "advance" and "reimbursement" apply only when the customer or client alone is liable for the payment of the fees or costs and when the taxpayer making the payment has no personal liability therefor, either primarily or secondarily, other than as agent for the customer or client.
There may be excluded from the measure of tax amounts representing money or credit received by a taxpayer as reimbursement of an advance in accordance with the regular and usual custom of his business or profession.
The foregoing is limited to cases wherein the taxpayer, as an incident to the business, undertakes, on behalf of the customer, guest or client, the payment of money, either upon an obligation owing by the customer, guest or client to a third person, or in procuring a service for the customer, guest or client which the taxpayer does not or cannot render and for which no liability attaches to the taxpayer. It does not apply to cases where the customer, guest or client makes advances to the taxpayer upon services to be rendered by the taxpayer or upon goods to be purchased by the taxpayer in carrying on the business in which the taxpayer engages.
For example, where a taxpayer engaging in the business of selling automobiles at retail collects from a customer, in addition to the purchase price, an amount sufficient to pay the fees for automobile license, tax and registration of title, the amount so collected is not properly a part of the gross sales of the taxpayer but is merely an advance and should be excluded from gross proceeds of sales. Likewise, where an attorney pays filing fees or court costs in any litigation, such fees and costs are paid as agent for the client and should be excluded from the gross income of the attorney.
On the other hand, no charge which represents an advance payment on the purchase price of an article or a cost of doing or obtaining business, even though such charge is made as a separate item, will be construed as an advance or reimbursement. Money so received constitutes a part of gross sales or gross income of the business, as the case may be. For example, no exclusion is allowed with respect to amounts received by (1) a doctor for furnishing medicine or drugs as a part of his treatment; (2) a dentist for furnishing gold, silver or other property in conjunction with his services; (3) a garage for furnishing parts in connection with repairs; (4) a manufacturer or contractor for materials purchased in his own name or in the name of his customer if the manufacturer or contractor is obligated to the vendor for the payment of the purchase price, regardless of whether the customer may also be so obligated; (5) any person engaging in a service business or in the business of installing or repairing tangible personal property for charges made separately for transportation or traveling expense.
Revised May 1, 1947.
[Order ET 70-3, § 458-20-111 (Rule 111), filed 5/29/70, effective 7/1/70.]