Code of the District of Columbia

§ 47–2201. Definitions.

(a)(1) “Retail sale”, “sale at retail”, and “sold at retail” mean all sales in any quantity or quantities of tangible personal property, whether made within or without the District, and services, to any person for the purpose of use, storage, or consumption, within the District, taxable under the terms of this chapter. These terms shall mean all sales of tangible personal property to any person for any purpose other than those in which the purpose of the purchaser is to resell the property so transferred in the form in which the same is, or is to be, received by him, or to use or incorporate the property so transferred as a material or part of other tangible personal property to be produced for sale by manufacturing, assembling, processing, or refining. For the purpose of the tax imposed by this chapter, these terms shall include, but shall not be limited to, the following:

(A) Any production, fabrication, or printing of tangible personal property on special order for a consideration;

(B) The sale of natural or artificial gas, oil, electricity, solid fuel or steam;

(C) The sale of material used in the construction, and of materials used in the repair or alteration, of real property, which materials, upon completion of such construction, alterations, or repairs, become real property, regardless of whether or not such real property is to be sold or resold;

(D) The sale or charges for possession or use of any article of tangible personal property granted under a lease or contract, regardless of the length of time of such lease or contract or whether such lease or contract is oral or written; in such event for the purposes of this chapter, such lease or contract shall be considered the sale of such article and the tax shall be computed and paid by the vendor upon the rental paid; provided, however, that the gross proceeds from the rental of films, records, or any type of sound transcribing to theaters and radio and television broadcasting stations shall not be considered a retail sale;

(E) The sale of any meals, food or drink, or other like tangible personal property for a consideration as described in § 47-2001(n)(1)(A);

(F) The sale of or charge for admission to public events except live performances of ballet, dance or choral performances, concerts (instrumental and vocal), plays (with and without music), operas and readings and exhibitions of paintings, sculpture, photography, graphic and craft arts, but including movies, circuses, burlesque shows, sporting events and performances or exhibitions of any other type or nature; provided, that any casual or isolated sale of or charge for admission made by a semi-public institution not regularly engaged in making such sales or charges shall not be considered a retail sale or sale at retail;

(G) The sale of or charges for the service of repairing, altering, mending, or fitting tangible personal property, or applying or installing tangible personal property as a repair or replacement part of other tangible personal property, whether or not such service is performed by means of coin-operated equipment or by any other means, and whether or not any tangible personal property is transferred in conjunction with such service;

(H) The sale of or charges for copying, photocopying, reproducing, duplicating, addressing, and mailing services and for public stenographic services;

(I) The rental of textiles to commercial users, the essential part of which rental includes recurring service of laundering or cleaning thereof;

(J) The sale of or charges for the service of real property maintenance and landscaping;

(i) For the purposes of this subparagraph, the term “real property maintenance” means any activity that keeps the land or the premises of a building clean, orderly, and functional, including the performance of minor adjustments, maintenance, or repairs, which include: floor, wall, and ceiling cleaning; pest control; window cleaning; servicing inground and in building swimming pools; exterior building cleaning; parking lot, garage, and recreation area maintenance; exterior and interior trash removal; restroom cleaning and stocking; lighting maintenance; chimney and duct cleaning; or ground maintenance; but does not include; painting; wallpapering, or other services performed as part of construction or major repairs; or services performed under an employee-employer relationship; and

(ii) For the purposes of this subparagraph, the term “landscaping” means the activity of arranging or modifying areas of land and natural scenery for an improved or aesthetic effect; the addition, removal, or arrangement of natural forms, features, and plantings; the addition, removal, or modification of retaining walls, ponds, sprinkler systems, or other landscape construction services; and other services provided by landscape designers or landscape architects such as consultation, research; preparation of general or specific design or detail plans, studies; specifications or supervision, or any other professional services or functions associated with landscaping;

(K) The sale of or charges for data processing service and information service;

(i) For the purposes of this subparagraph, the term “data processing service” means the processing of information for the compilation and production of records of transactions; the maintenance, input, and retrieval of information; the provision of direct access to computer equipment to process, examine, or acquire information stored in or accessible to the computer equipment; the specification of computer hardware configurations; the evaluation of technical processing characteristics, computer programming or software, provided in conjunction with and to support the sale, lease; operation, or application of computer equipment or systems; work processing; payroll and business accounting, computerized data and information storage and manipulation; the input of inventory control data for a company; the maintenance of records of employee work time; filing payroll tax returns; the preparation of W-2 forms; the computation and preparation of payroll checks; and any system or application programming or software. The term “data processing services” does not include a service provided by a member of an affiliated group of corporations to other corporate members of the group. Data processing services shall be exempt from use tax if the service is rendered by a member of the affiliated group of corporations, has not been purchased with a certificate of resale or exemption to the corporation providing the service, is rendered for the purpose of expense allocation; and is not for the profit of the corporation providing the service. For the purposes of this sub-subparagraph, the term “affiliated group” shall have the same meaning as defined in 26 U.S.C. § 1504(a); and

(ii) For the purposes of this subparagraph, the term “information service” means the furnishing of general or specialized news or current information, including financial information, by printed, mimeographed, electronic, or electrical transmission, or by wire, cable, radio waves, microwaves, satellite, fiber optics, or any other method in existence or which may be devised; electronic data retrieval or research, including newsletters, real estate listings, or financial, investment, circulation, credit, stock market, or bond rating reports; mailing lists; abstracts of title; news clipping services; wire services; scouting reports; surveys; bad check lists; and broadcast rating services; but does not include: information sold to a newspaper or a radio or television station licensed by the Federal Communication Commission, if the information is gathered or purchased for direct use in newspapers or radio or television broadcasts; charges to a person by a financial institution for account balance information; or information gathered or compiled on behalf of a particular client, if the information is of a proprietary nature to that client and may not be sold to others by the person who compiled the information, except for a subsequent sale of the information by the client for whom the information was gathered or compiled;

(L) The sale or charge for any newspaper or publication;

(M)(i) The sale of or charges for stationary two-way radio services, telegraph services, teletypewriter services, and teleconferencing services. The sale or charges described in this sub-subparagraph shall not be considered sales of private communication services as defined in § 47-2001(n)(1)(G)(iv);

(ii) The sale of or charges for “900”, “976”, “915”, and other “900”-type telecommunication services;

(iii) The sale of or charges for telephone answering services, including automated services and services provided by human operators; and

(iv) The sale of or charges for services enumerated in sub-subparagraphs (i) through (iii) of this subparagraph shall not include sales of or charges for services that are subject to tax under § 47-2501 or Chapter 39 of this title;

(N) The sale of or charges for the service of laundering, dry cleaning, or pressing of any kind of tangible personal property, except when the service is performed by means of self-service, coin-operated equipment, and the rental of textiles to commercial users when the essential part of the rental includes the recurring service of laundering or cleaning thereof;

(O) The sale of or charge for any delivery in the District for which a separate charge is made, except merchandise delivered for resale for which a District of Columbia certificate of resale has been issued or the delivery of any newspapers;

(P) The sale of or charge for the service of procuring, offering, or attempting to procure in the District job seekers for employers or employment for job seekers, including employment advice, counseling, testing, resume preparation and any other related service; or

(Q) The sale of or charge for the service of placing a job seeker with an employer in the District.

(2) The terms “retail sale,” “sale at retail,” and “sold at retail” shall not include the following:

(A) Sales of data processing, information, or transportation and communication services other than sales of data processing services, information services, or any service enumerated in paragraph (1)(M) of this subsection, or the sale of or charge for any delivery in the District for which a separate charge is made;

(B) Professional, insurance, or personal service transactions which involve sales as inconsequential elements for which no separate charges are made, except as otherwise provided in subsection (a)(1) of this section;

(C) Sales of tangible personal property which property was purchased or acquired by a nonresident prior to coming into the District and establishing or maintaining a temporary or permanent residence in the District. As used in this subsection, the word “residence” means a place in which to reside and does not mean “domicile”;

(D) Sales of tangible personal property which property was purchased or acquired by a nonresident person prior to coming into the District and establishing or maintaining a business in the District;

(E) The use or storage within the District of tangible personal property owned and held by a common carrier or sleeping car company for use principally without the District in the course of interstate commerce, or commerce between the District and a state, in or upon, or as part of, any train, aircraft, or boat; or

(F) Sales of Internet access service.

(i) For the purposes of this subparagraph, the term “Internet access service” means a service that enables users to access content, information, electronic mail, or other services offered over the Internet and may also include access to proprietary content, information, and other services as part of a package of Internet access services offered to consumers.

(ii) “Internet access service” shall not include the sale of or charges for data processing and information services as defined in paragraph (1)(K)(i) and (ii) of this subsection that do not enable users to access content, information, electronic mail, or other services offered over the Internet.

(iii) “Internet access service” shall not include telecommunication services as defined in paragraph (1)(M) of this subsection or Chapter 39 of this title.

(b) “Purchase” and “purchased” mean and include:

(1) Any transfer, either conditionally or absolutely, of title or possession or both of the tangible personal property sold at retail;

(2) Any acquisition of a license or other authority to use, store, or consume, the tangible personal property sold at retail; and

(3) Any sale of services sold at retail.

(c) “Purchaser” means any person who shall have purchased tangible personal property or services sold at retail.

(d) “In the District” and “within the District” mean within the exterior limits of the District of Columbia and include all territory within such limits owned by the United States of America.

(e) “Store” and “storage” mean any keeping or the retention of possession in the District for any purpose, other than for the purpose of subsequently transporting the property outside the District for use solely outside the District, of tangible personal property purchased at retail sale.

(f) “Use” means the exercise by any person within the District of any right or power over tangible personal property and services sold at retail, whether purchased within or without the District by a purchaser from a vendor.

(g) “Vendor” includes every person or retailer engaging in business in the District and making sales at retail as defined herein, whether for immediate or future delivery of the tangible personal property or performance of the services. When in the opinion of the Mayor it is necessary for the efficient administration of this chapter to regard any salesman, representative, peddler, or canvasser, as the agent of the dealer, distributor, supervisor, or employer, under whom he operates or from whom he obtains the tangible personal property sold or furnishes services, the Mayor may, in his discretion, treat and regard such agent as the vendor jointly responsible with his principal, employer, or supervisor, for the assessment and payment or collection of the tax imposed by this chapter.

(h) “Engaging in business in the District” includes the selling, delivering, or furnishing in the District, or any activity in the District in connection with the selling, delivering, or furnishing in the District, of tangible personal property or services sold at retail as defined herein. This term shall include, but shall not be limited to, the following acts or methods of transacting business:

(1) The maintaining, occupying or using, permanently or temporarily, directly or indirectly, or through a subsidiary or agent, by whatever name called, of any office, place of distribution, sales or sample room or place, warehouse or storage place, or other place of business; and

(2) The having of any representative, agent, salesman, canvasser, or solicitor operating in the District for the purpose of making sales at retail as defined herein, or the taking of orders for such sales.

(i) “Retailer” includes every person engaged in the business of making sales at retail.

(j) The definitions of “additional charges,” “business,” “District,” “food or drink,” “gross receipts,” “Mayor,” “net charges,” “person,” “purchaser’s certificate,” “retail establishment,” “return,” “room remarketer,” “sale” and “selling,” “sales price,” “semipublic institution,” “tangible personal property,” “tax,” “tax year,” “taxpayer,” and “transient” as defined in Chapter 20 of this title, are incorporated in and made applicable to this chapter.

(k) The foregoing definitions shall be applicable whenever the words defined are used in this chapter unless otherwise required by the context.


(May 27, 1949, 63 Stat. 124, ch. 146, title II, §§ 201-211; May 18, 1954, 68 Stat. 118, ch. 218, title XIII, § 1306; Mar. 31, 1956, 70 Stat. 81, ch. 154, § 205; Aug. 2, 1968, 82 Stat. 615, Pub. L. 90-450, title III, § 306; Oct. 31, 1969, 83 Stat. 171, Pub. L. 91-106, title I, §§ 108, 109; Jan. 5, 1971, 84 Stat. 1932, Pub. L. 91-650, title II, § 201(c)(1); Oct. 21, 1975, D.C. Law 1-23, title III, § 302(1), (3)-(5), 22 DCR 2101-2103; June 15, 1976, D.C. Law 1-70, title IV, §§ 404, 405, 23 DCR 540; July 24, 1982, D.C. Law 4-131, §§ 217, 218, 223, 29 DCR 2418; July 25, 1989, D.C. Law 8-17, § 5(a), 36 DCR 4160; May 4, 1990, D.C. Law 8-119, § 4, 37 DCR 1738; Sept. 30, 1993, D.C. Law 10-25, § 112(a)-(c), 40 DCR 5489; Feb. 5, 1994, D.C. Law 10-68, §§ 47, 50, 40 DCR 6311; Apr. 30, 1994, D.C. Law 10-115, § 204(a), 41 DCR 1216; June 14, 1994, D.C. Law 10-128, § 105(a), 41 DCR 2096; Mar. 21, 1995, D.C. Law 10-242, § 14(b), 42 DCR 86; enacted, Apr. 9, 1997, D.C. Law 11-254,§ 2, 44 DCR 1575; Apr. 30, 1998, D.C. Law 12-100, § 2(d), 45 DCR 1533; Oct. 20, 1999, D.C. Law 13-38, § 2702(l), 46 DCR 6373; May 23, 2000, D.C. Law 13-118, § 2(a), 47 DCR 2002; Sept. 23, 2009, D.C. Law 18-48, § 2(b), 56 DCR 5482; Sept. 20, 2012, D.C. Law 19-168, § 7114, 59 DCR 8025.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 47-2201.

1973 Ed., § 47-2701.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 13-38 added subsec. (a)(2)(F).

D.C. Law 13-118 in subsec. (e) substituted “, any purpose other than for the purpose of subsequently transporting the property outside the District for use solely outside the District,” for “any purpose”.

D.C. Law 18-48, in subsec. (a)(1)(B), deleted “, when made to any purchaser for purposes other than resale or for use in manufacturing, assembling, processing, or refining” following “steam”.

The 2012 amendment by D.C. Law 19-168, in (j), added “additional charges,” added “District,” added “Mayor,” added “net charges,” added “room remarketer,” deleted “Mayor” following “taxpayer,” substituted “transient” for “District,” and deleted “hereby” preceding “incorporated.”

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(c) of Internet Sales Tax Emergency Amendment Act of 2018 (D.C. Act 22-556, Dec. 31, 2018, 66 DCR 262).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 3 of Simplified Sales and Use Tax District of Columbia Participation Emergency Act of 2001 (D.C. Act 14-168, November 19, 2001, 48 DCR 11026).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 10 of Revised Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Support Technical Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2011 (D.C. Act 19-157, October 4, 2011, 58 DCR 8688).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 7114 of Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-383, June 19, 2012, 59 DCR 7764).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 7114 of Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-413, July 25, 2012, 59 DCR 9290).

Temporary Legislation

Section 10 of D.C. Law 19-53 amended subsec. (j) to read as follows:

“(j) The definitions of ‘additional charges,’ ‘business,’ ‘District,’ ‘food or drink,’ ‘gross receipts,’ ‘Mayor,’ ‘net charges,’ ‘person,’ ‘purchaser’s certificate,’ ‘retail establishment,’ ‘return,’ ‘room remarketer,’ ‘sale’ and ‘selling,’ ‘sales price,’ ‘semipublic institution,’ ‘tangible personal property,’ ‘tax,’ ‘tax year,’ ‘taxpayer,’ and ‘transient’ as defined in Chapter 20 of this title, are hereby incorporated in and made applicable to this chapter.”.

Section 15(b) of D.C. Law 19-53 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Editor's Notes

Section 4(b) of D.C. Law 12-100 provided that returns or payments due from wireless telecommunication companies for the period beginning May 1, 1997, through April 30, 1998, not previously filed or paid shall be due by the 45th day after April 30, 1998.

Section 4(c) of D.C. Law 12-100 provided that beginning in FY 1999, the amount of tax imposed by the act shall not be calculated as gross revenue to which the tax is then applied.

Repeal of D.C. Law 10-242 inapplicable to this section: Section 11702(b) of title XI of Pub. L. 105-33, 111 Stat. 781, the National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Improvement Act of 1997, provided that § 11702(a), which repealed the Clean Air Compliance Fee Act of 1994, D.C. Law 10-242, shall not apply to § 14 of Law 10-242.

Section 3 of D.C. Law 18-48 provided that this act shall apply as of January 1, 2009.