If the users accessing the SaaS are in the City of Chicago, there’s a tax that many are not aware of exists, the Chicago Personal Property Lease Transaction Tax.
In most cases, Illinois doesn’t tax SaaS or other Cloud products; they consider SaaS a service and not subject to the state sales tax. However, Chicago has a different approach to these services and products and considers SaaS a lease of personal property. The tax imposed by the City is not a sales tax, which is why many companies overlook it.
The upside, a taxpayer should only be required to pay one tax, either the State or the City. Unlike the treatment of SaaS, if the software is electronically delivered and/or housed on the user’s computer, it can be subject tax by the State (unless an exemption is available) but not the City (Chicago does not consider this a lease).
How Does the Chicago Lease Tax Apply to SaaS or Cloud-Based Products?
The tax rate for most lease transactions is 9%; however, as of January 1, 2016, the City imposed a lower rate of 5.25% for a nonpossessory computer lease (SaaS or Cloud-Based Products). This was increased on January 1, 2020, to 7.25%. The lower rate applies when a customer uses the provider’s computer and software to input, modify, or retrieve information supplied by the customer. If the lease allows the customer to input, modify, or retrieve data supplied by the provider, these are considered Database products and taxed at the 9% rate. This reduced rate and definition clarification was done with the issuance of Ruling #12 of Chapter 3-32.
One key aspect to the tax, and why user location is so important, it is only imposed on the users physically located in Chicago. Ruling #12 allows a taxpayer to apportion its users located outside of the City so tax will not apply to these users. This can be done by utilizing the: City of Chicago Department of Finance Affidavit for Apportionment of Use of Nonpossessory Computer Leases.
In addition, the City provides several exemptions. Some examples are, de minimis use of the SaaS, if you are a small new business and re-leases.
When it comes to software in Illinois, you must be sure to be aware of how Illinois and the City of Chicago define the product or service being sold. The City and State both treat them differently and have tax implications associated.
If you would like to know more regarding the City of Chicago Personal Property Lease Tax and Illinois sales tax please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org