September 15, 2010 | By Keith Martin in Washington, DC

Florida told a gas utility that offers rebates to customers as an incentive to buy energy efficient appliances that it only needs to collect sales taxes on the net price it charges for the appliances, after the rebate.

The state collects a 6% sales tax. The tax is collected on the “sales price.”

The gas utility runs several programs to encourage homeowners to switch to gas or save energy. In one of the programs, it gives customers from $100 to $625 back if they will switch to gas for heating, cooking or drying clothes or replace existing gas appliances with more efficient appliances. The customer buys the new appliances from the utility directly.

The utility has other programs where it makes payments to home builders for installing gas appliances or to homeowners who buy appliances from other suppliers.

The Florida Department of Revenue said in a ruling in July that sales taxes only need to be collected on the net price in cases where the customer buys appliances from the utility directly, but in the other cases, where the utility is merely helping the builder or homeowner buy the appliance from someone else, the sales tax is collected on the gross price.

The ruling is a technical assistance advisement. The record ID is 84206.

Keith Martin