Avalara Taxrates > Blog > Sales Tax News > Wisconsin: Exempt and Taxable Funeral Services - Avalara

Wisconsin: Exempt and Taxable Funeral Services


 Taxing death is complicated.

Many of the costs associated with funerals are exempt from Wisconsin sales tax. But not all are. And sometimes, taxability depends on the situation.

Exempt

Charges for the following are exempt from Wisconsin sales tax:

  • Appliqués or medallions sold as part of caskets
  • Biodegradable scattering urns
  • Burial vaults
  • Caskets and casket rentals (even if not used for burials)
  • Cremation boxes and caskets
  • Cremation urns and urn vaults
  • Funeral services
  • Memento chests (for cremated remains)
  • Outdoor memorials

Also exempt are charges for engraving services performed on any of the above.

Taxable

Charges for the following subject to Wisconsin sales tax:

  • Casket inserts (used with rental caskets and later cremated)
  • Scattering memorials that are used only to transport remains
  • Miniature urns, jewelry, or other keepsake pieces that hold a small amount of cremated remains

Also taxable are charges for engraving services performed on any of the above. However, funeral homes may purchase these services from the vendor without tax with a valid exemption certificate.

Sometimes taxable

Sometimes taxability depends on the nature of the transaction. For example:

  • Charges for containers (other than caskets or burial vaults) and related engraving services are taxable unless “the container is transferred by the funeral home incidentally with funeral services.”
  • Charges for diamonds made from human remains are taxable unless the diamonds are transferred incidentally with funeral services.
  • Charges for funeral services and property used in providing funeral services are exempt unless the products and services are optional from the sale of the funeral services and charges are separately stated.
  • Charges for videos and photographs are taxable unless transferred incidentally with funeral services.
  • Cremation containers that are not caskets are taxable unless used for burial in place of a casket.
  • Urn bases are taxable unless used to hold cremated remains.

Use tax

Funeral homes may owe use tax on exempt purchases of taxable goods and services used in Wisconsin “in a taxable manner.” Additional information information about how sales and use tax applies to funeral homes is available in Wisconsin Department of Revenue Publication 246.

It goes without saying that both death and taxes are inevitable, but exactly how sales and use tax applies to the death-care industry varies from state to state. As thousands of funeral homes are now owned and operated by chains, knowing how to apply tax in different states has become critical to sales and use tax compliance. Sales tax software helps. Learn more.


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.