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Swoosh! Wisconsin Waterslides Are Exempt, October 2015


 Taxable or exempt, waterslides are fun.

Waterslides are currently considered to be tangible personal property in Wisconsin. As a result, the sale and installation of waterslides are currently subject to Wisconsin sales and use tax. However, that will change beginning October 1, 2015.

As of the start of the new quarter, “The sale and installation of a waterslide in a water park, including the waterslide flumes and the steel support beams that hold up the flumes, is the sale of a real property improvement.” In Wisconsin, the sale of real property improvement is exempt from sales and use tax.

However, “Sellers are required to pay sales or use tax on the purchase price of materials that are physically transferred to the customer on the sale and installation of waterslides in water parks that take place on or after October 1, 2015.” There is an exception for sellers who, prior to October 1, entered into irrevocable contracts to sell and install a waterslide in a water park. In such situations, “the sale will be treated as if it took place prior to October 1, 2015.”

But …

Whenever there is a change to tax policy, some transactions are inevitably caught in the middle. In this situation, sellers who prior to October 1, 2015, charged tax on the sale of an installed waterslide have two options available to them:

  1. Do nothing and the Department of Revenue will do nothing.
  2. File a claim for refund (within the statute of limitations) for sales tax paid to the Department of Revenue:
    1. Pay use tax on the purchase price of the materials used in making the real property improvement.
    2. Refund any sales tax (and related interest) collected from buyers. “The seller may reduce the refund given to the buyer by the amount of tax and interest due and paid on the seller’s purchase of materials that are physically transferred to the buyer in the seller’s sales and installation of the waterslide.”

Buyers who were charged tax prior to October 1, 2015 also have two options:

  1. Do nothing and the Department of Revenue will do nothing.
  2. File a claim for refund (within the statute of limitations) for purchases made:
    1. Request a refund from the seller for tax paid to the seller. The refund may be reduced, as above.
    2. File a Buyer’s Claim for Refund with the Department of Revenue.

Still taxable

Wisconsin sales and use tax will continue to apply to the following services related to waterslides:

  • Alteration, fitting and maintenance
  • Cleaning, coating and painting
  • Inspection
  • Repair, service and towing

Providers of the above services may purchase for resale (exempt from tax) “any materials that are physically transferred to the customer in the repair or other service to a waterslide.”

According to the Department of Revenue, this change only applies to waterslides at water parks. The department does not reference waterslides for home use. Learn more.

Enough already

Want more time to go to water parks? Automate sales tax.


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.