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Wisconsin: What’s in a Cemetery Monument?


 Delve into the taxation of cemetery monuments in Wisconsin.

The transfer of tangible personal property is subject to sales and use tax in Wisconsin. The sale, service or repair of real property in Wisconsin is not subject to sales tax. These two facts raise a question: is a cemetery monument tangible personal property or real property?

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue has posted a publication explaining the subtleties of this subject on its website. Examples provide the most helpful insight:

Example 1: A monument dealer sells a monument for $1,500 to a customer. The price includes installing the monument to a cement foundation at the cemetery.  

  • Because the monument is attached to a cement foundation, it is considered a sale of real property and is not subject to sales tax.

Example 2: The same situation as in the first example but the buyer is a church with a Certificate of Exempt Status.

  • The sale is still not subject to sales tax because it is a sale of real property.

Example 3: Company A sells a monument to a customer for $1,500. Company B installs the monument at the cemetery for $300.

  • The $1,500 for the monument is subject to sales tax because the monument is tangible personal property.
  • The $300 installation charges are not subject to sales tax because once installed, the monument is a real property improvement.

Many more examples are provided, outlining numerous situations that could arise with respect to the purchase, engraving, and installation of a cemetery monument. Sourcing is also explained (the sale is typically sourced to the location where the possession of the monument occurs). Questions about the taxation of cemetery monuments not explained in this publication should be directed to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.

The information explained above and in the publication is current as of January 1, 2014. Laws enacted after January 1, 2014, may “change the positions in this publication.”

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photo credit: CJ Schmit via photopin cc


Sales tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.