This archived Information Release has been superseded by a
later release. It is archived here for historical/reference
purposes ONLY. For the most current Information Releases,
please refer to the main "Information Releases - Current
ST 2003-02 - Landscaping, Lawn Care Services, and Snow
Removal - January, 2004 - Revised
This release deals with the application of Ohio sales and use
tax to landscaping, lawn care, and snow removal services. It
revises and replaces the revised release issued in January
2003 so as to incorporate changes made to the law relating to
snow removal in Am. Sub. H.B. 95 (effective 7/1/2003). R.C.
5739.01 (B)(3)(g) includes landscaping and lawn care service
in the definition of "sale" or "selling," which makes the
provision of these services subject to the Ohio sales and use
R.C. 5739.01 (B)(5) states that "the provision of landscaping
and lawn care service and the transfer of property as part of
that service is never a construction contract."
R.C. 5739.01 (DD) defines "landscaping and lawn care service"
". . . the services of planting, seeding, sodding,
removing, cutting, trimming, pruning, mulching, aerating,
applying chemicals, watering, fertilizing and providing
similar services to establish, promote, or control the
growth of trees, shrubs, flowers, grass, ground cover,
and other flora, or otherwise maintaining a lawn or
landscape grown or maintained by the owner for
ornamentation or other nonagricultural purpose."
R.C. 5739.01(B)(3)(u) includes snow removal in the definition
of "sale" or "selling," which makes the provision of that
service subject to the Ohio sales and use tax on and after
August 1, 2003. That section of the law also defines "snow
removal service" as "... the removal of snow by any
mechanized means …".
Further, the law stipulates that landscaping, lawn care, and
snow removal service does not include the providing of such
services by a person who has less than five thousand dollars
in sales of such services during the calendar year.
R.C. 5739.01(D)(5). This section provides, "A person who
makes sales of any of the services listed in division (B)(3),
of this section is the consumer of any tangible personal
property used in performing the service. The purchase of that
property is not subject to the resale exception under
division (E)(1) of this section."
R.C. 5739.02(B)(43)(m). This section provides an exception
from the sales tax when the purpose of the purchaser is, "To
use tangible personal property to perform a service listed in
division (B)(3) of section 5739.01 of the Ohio Revised Code,
if the property is or is to be permanently transferred to the
consumer of the services as an integral part of the
performance of the service."
The following is a summary of typical questions being asked
along with the Department's responses based on the provisions
of the Ohio Revised Code. The responses should be used as a
guide to understanding the application of the law.
A) IF I AM PROVIDING A LANDSCAPING, LAWNCARE OR SNOW REMOVAL
SERVICE, WHAT TYPE OF LICENSE DO I NEED AND HOW DO I OBTAIN
A person in the business of providing landscaping, lawn care
or snow removal service must obtain a Service Vendor’s
License by contacting the Department of Taxation, not the
County Auditor’s office. There is a $25 application fee.
Application for a Service Vendor’s License is to be made on
the form ST1-S which can be obtained from the Department’s
website ("Forms"-"Sales & Use") or by telephoning
B) IF I MAKE OVER-THE-COUNTER SALES AND PROVIDE LANDSCAPING,
LAWN CARE OR SNOW REMOVAL SERVICE, CAN I REPORT BOTH TYPES OF
SALES UNDER THE SAME LICENSE?
You must report your over-the-counter sales under a regular
county vendor’s license (covers sales made at your business
location) and your sales of landscaping, lawn care, and snow
removal services under the service vendor’s license.
The reason for this separation is that your over-the-counter
sales will be taxed at the rate in effect in the county where
your business is physically located while your service sales
will be taxed at various rates based on the county where the
service is received by the consumer. The state must allocate
local taxes back to the counties where you perform taxable
C) IS REGISTRATION BASED ON THE AMOUNT OF SALES GENERATED BY
If you were in the business last year and your gross sales
from these services were $5,000 or more, you must register as
a service provider, collect and remit sales tax.
If you were in the business last calendar year with total
sales of these services being less than $5,000 and you are
not sure if your sales will be $5,000 or more this year, you
must register and begin collecting the tax when your sales
equal or exceed $5,000.
If it is reasonable to expect that your total sales will be
$5,000 or more, you must register as a service provider.
D) WHAT IS THE "PRICE" USED IN CALCULATING THE SALES TAX?
The total amount billed to your customer for the taxable
services is the "price" and would include the cost of
miscellaneous supplies consumed by the service provider.
If, however, you are providing a nontaxable service (e.g.,
excavation work, consulting, soil testing, etc.) in the same
transaction, you must separately charge for this service or
else it will be considered part of the landscaping or lawn
care service and become part of the "price" for calculating
E) WHAT TAX RATE DO I CHARGE?
If you are providing a service, you must charge tax at the
rate in effect in the county where the consumer receives
benefit of that service, i.e. the location of the job.
If you provide landscaping or lawn care service to a single
consumer at different locations in more than one county, you
must separate the charges for each location and collect the
tax based on the rate in effect in each county.
F) HOW WILL I REPORT THE TAX COLLECTED ON THESE SERVICES?
As a service vendor, you will file a sales tax return each
month (Form UST-1) which will break down your sales and tax
on a county-by-county basis.
Returns must be filed even if no sales are made or no tax is
due. If you temporarily discontinue your business because of
the seasonal nature of the work, you must continue filing
returns when due. If you "go south for the winter," we would
suggest that you file these "no sales, no tax due" returns
early or have a responsible individual file the returns when
due to avoid any delinquency.
You are entitled to a vendor discount when returns are
received (not postmarked) by the Department and payable to
the Treasurer of State on or before the due date with full
payment of the amount due.
Failure to file returns on time and/or remit the amount due
with filed returns subjects you to an additional charge of
10% of the tax due or $50, whichever is greater, interest,
and/or a 50% penalty.
G) ARE THE FOLLOWING ACTIVITIES CONSIDERED LANDSCAPING OR
SNOW REMOVAL SERVICES?
Those activities indicated as NOT being landscape or snow
removal services are instead sales and/or installation of
tangible personal property, construction contracts, or
personal/professional services. As such, they may be subject
to the sales and use tax under other provisions of the
Installing, watering, fertilizing, trimming, and
otherwise maintaining indoor plants (interiorscape).
Installing an underground sprinkling system.
Digging a hole for planting a tree.
Digging a pond or ditch.
Installing a stone or wooden wall around a flowerbed.
Installing a fountain on a foundation.
Installing fountains (no foundations) that re-circulate
water as part of larger projects.
Providing drawings, recommendations, blueprints or
Installing a rock garden.
Installing driveways, sidewalks, patios, gazebos or
Installing a trellis.
Removing a tree. (See question K below.)
Installing swimming pools.
Delivering and spreading of top soil.
Installing retaining walls for erosion purposes.
Providing finish grading.
Installing planter boxes.
Delivering and spreading of fill dirt.
Removing stumps. (See Question K below.)
Excavating and rough grading.
Trimming and shredding tree limbs.
Installing drain pipe/tubing.
Installing stone instead of mulch.
Applying chemicals to lakes or ponds to control insects?
(See Question W below.)
Applying chemicals to lakes or ponds to control the
growth of algae or other plant life.
Removing trash (paper, cans, bottles, abandoned vehicles,
discarded appliances and furniture, etc.) from a lot.
Tilling or otherwise preparing the soil for
"nonagricultural" purposes? (See Question L below.)
Installing railroad ties or landscape timbers as a
retaining wall for a gravel or stone driveway.
Maintaining golf courses.
Planting shrubs, flowers, grass or ground cover for an
extra fee by a cemetery association.
Using no mechanized means to remove snow (e.g. only using
a snow shovel).
Maintaining a cemetery plot for an extra fee by a
Removing snow using a snow blower or a snowplow on a
H) I AM RECLAIMING LAND. AM I PROVIDING A LANDSCAPING AND
LAWN CARE SERVICE?
Charges for land reclamation would be landscaping and lawn
care services. Sales or use tax should be charged on these
services unless the customer has a valid claim of exemption.
As with all other sales, you must separate your taxable
charges from your non-taxable charges when you are engaged in
both a taxable and non-taxable activity
I) MUST I CHARGE TAX WHEN I AM APPLYING CHEMICALS TO LAWNS OR
If chemicals are being applied to stimulate plant growth,
protect plants from vermin or disease, retard plant growth,
or otherwise promote and control plant life, you are
providing a lawn care service and this service would be
subject to tax.
If the chemicals are being applied to a lawn to control
vermin (e.g., fleas, ticks, moles, etc.), that may infest a
building or structure or the area surrounding a building or
structure, and be harmful to pets or humans, you are not
providing a lawn care service. You are, however, providing an
exterminating service and you would be required to collect
See questions "M" through "P" regarding the taxability of
J) IF I AM TRIMMING TREES OR CONTROLLING VEGETATION ON
RIGHTS-OF-WAY, AM I PROVIDING A LANDSCAPING AND LAWN CARE
K) IF I AM CLEARING LAND OF TREES AND OTHER FORMS OF PLANT
LIFE, MUST I CHARGE SALES TAX?
If you are clearing land (e.g., removing trees, bushes or
other plants) prior to housing or commercial development, you
are not providing a landscaping service. You would not be
performing this work to establish or maintain a landscape.
Therefore, you would not charge sales tax.
If you are removing trees, bushes or other plants in order to
make room for expansion of a driveway, a room addition,
construction of a deck or patio, changes to existing
landscape, etc., you are not providing landscaping service.
(It is to be noted that this determination is contrary to the
earlier Information Releases and results from a
reconsideration of the matter.) If, however, the work entails
enhancement or change (e.g., removing dead trees) after the
site-preparation is complete, this constitutes a landscaping
L) WHAT IS A "NONAGRICULTURAL" PURPOSE?
We consider the raising of plants for purposes other than
sale to be a nonagricultural purpose. An example would be
having a vegetable garden or flower garden in which an
individual raises vegetables or flowers for personal use or
to give away to family and friends. In addition, any
landscaping and lawncare service performed for a golf course
is a taxable service.
M) AM I ENTITLED TO CLAIM EXEMPTION ON THE PURCHASE OF
EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES USED IN PROVIDING THESE SERVICES?
You can claim exemption on the purchase of items such as
trees, shrubs, mulch, fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides,
insecticides, salt, etc. that are permanently transferred to
the consumer as an integral part of providing taxable
landscaping and lawn care services.
You can also claim exemption on the purchase of chemicals
that are applied to the area surrounding a building or
structure in an effort to eradicate vermin (e.g., fleas,
ticks, chiggers, etc.) that are harmful to pets or humans. In
such a case, you are providing an exterminating service and
may claim exception on the materials permanently transferred
to the consumer as an integral part of the performance of
You cannot claim exemption on equipment and tools that are
used in providing landscaping, lawn care or snow removal
service nor can you claim exemption on other consumable items
used in providing the service. Examples are shovels, rakes,
shears, saws, and other hand tools; spreaders, sprayers,
hoes, mowers, de-thatchers, tillers, tractors, backhoes,
cherry pickers, box graders and similar equipment and
attachments. Fuel used to operate any of the equipment would
be subject to the sales tax if a motor fuel tax refund were
Other types of equipment that are taxable include, but are
not limited to, over-the road motor vehicles (e.g., cars,
trucks, and trailers), warehouse equipment, uniforms,
N) CAN I CLAIM EXEMPTION ON LICENSED MOTOR VEHICLES?
O) CAN I CLAIM EXEMPTION ON EQUIPMENT REPAIRS?
Since the equipment is being used in a taxable manner, all
repairs would be subject to the tax, irrespective of when the
equipment was purchased.
P) HOW DO I CLAIM EXEMPTION ON MY PURCHASES?
If you are licensed as a service vendor, you are entitled to
claim exemption on your purchases of items transferred
permanently to the consumer as an integral part of the
performance of your service. You must provide your suppliers
with properly completed exemption certificates indicating the
proper statutory claim for exception.
Blank exemption certificates can be purchased from any
printer or office supply store or can be downloaded from our
website at tax.ohio.gov. There are two types - unit and
blanket. A unit certificate is issued for a single purchase.
A blanket certificate is issued for multiple purchases from
the same supplier. The statutory reference for claiming
exception from the tax for items permanently transferred in
the performance of this service is found in
R.C.5739.02(B)(43)(m) and reads:
To use tangible personal property to perform a service
listed in division (B)(3) of section 5739.01 of the
Revised Code, if the property is or is to be permanently
transferred to the consumer of the service as an integral
part of the performance the service.
If you are purchasing a taxable item after you have issued a
blanket certificate of exemption, you must advise the
supplier that the item is taxable. Otherwise, you will be
responsible for payment of the tax to the Treasurer of State
through a consumer's use tax account or you may be assessed
the tax plus penalty and interest.
Tangible personal property purchased for the purpose of being
resold "over-the-counter" to customers may be purchased under
a "resale" claim of exemption.
Q) IF THE PURCHASER IS CLAIMING EXCEPTION OR EXEMPTION FROM
THE TAX, WHAT EVIDENCE MUST I OBTAIN?
If the purchaser is never subject to the tax (e.g., the
service is provided to and billed to a state agency, XXX
County, City of YYYY, etc.), you must clearly indicate the
identity of the purchaser on the sales invoice.
If the purchaser is claiming that the use of the service is
not subject to the sales or use tax (e.g., purchased for
resale, a sale to an exempt organization, reclamation of
strip mined land, etc.), you must have a properly completed
exemption certificate on file.
R) WHAT IS MY TAX OBLIGATION IF I DONATE MATERIAL TO A
CHARITY OR GIVE MATERIAL AWAY?
If you donate items to charity or give items to customers as
a courtesy or through a promotion, you are the consumer of
the items and you must pay use tax on your cost of the
S) IF I REPLACE AN ITEM COVERED UNDER WARRANTY, MUST I CHARGE
TAX OR DO I OWE TAX?
If you charge your customer for replacing an item under
warranty, you would collect sales tax on the amount charged
(this would most likely be the deductible amount). If,
however, you replace an item under warranty without
additional charge, you would not be collecting sales tax nor
would you owe tax on your purchase of the replacement
T) CAN A LANDSCAPER CLAIM "RESALE" WHEN PURCHASING A
LAND-SCAPING SERVICE FROM ANOTHER LANDSCAPER?
If a landscaper (Party A) is subcontracting part of a
landscape project out to another landscaper (Party B), Party
A's purchase from Party B will be exempt based on the
"resale" exception. Party A must provide a properly completed
exemption certificate to Party B. If more than one
subcontractor is used, Party A must provide exemption
certificates to the other subcontractors.
U) CAN A DEVELOPER, LANDLORD, BUILDING MANAGER, CONDOMINIUM
ASSOCIATION OR CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTOR CLAIM EXEMPTION BASED
ON "RESALE" ON THE PURCHASE OF LANDSCAPING SERVICE OR SNOW
The developer, landlord, building manager, condominium
association, or construction contractor is considered the
consumer of the landscaping service or snow removal purchased
in the development of land or maintenance of the
V) WHAT ARE MY RESPONSIBILITIES IF THE CONSUMER REFUSES TO
PAY THE TAX?
As a vendor or seller, you are responsible for charging,
collecting and remitting the sales or use tax. The sales or
use tax charged by you is a legal charge against the consumer
which can be collected by you through all legal means.
W) IF I AM APPLYING CHEMICALS TO A POND FOR INSECT CONTROL,
MUST I CHARGE SALES TAX?
If the pond is next to a building or structure and the
chemicals are being applied to keep insects from infesting
the building or structure or impeding the enjoyment of the
area surrounding the building or structure, you are providing
an exterminating service, which is subject to the sales
If the pond is not next to the building or structure or is at
such a distance that insects from the pond will not cause
infestation of the building or structure, you are considered
a construction contractor. This means that you will not
charge sales tax to your customers but that you will owe
sales or use tax on the purchase of the chemicals.
X) IF I AM APPLYING SALT TO REMOVE SNOW, MUST I CHARGE SALES
In general, the application of salt in conjunction with
mechanized snow removal is taxable as snow removal. However,
if you are only being paid to apply salt by hand
(non-mechanized means), such service would not be subject to
sales tax. Please note that you must pay sales tax on your
purchase of the salt in that situation.
If you have any questions regarding this information release,
please contact our Taxpayer Service Center at 1-888-405-4039,
or e-mail us through our web site: tax.ohio.gov.
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