Capital Improvements Performed by Landscapers and Similar Businesses
Charges for certain defined landscaping services are subject to sales tax in the state of New Jersey through N.J.S.A. 54:32B-3(b)(2), as amended, and P.L. 2006, c. 44. The tax is applicable to sales by a landscaper to a property owner or to a general contractor. See examples from the New Jersey Department of Taxation below.
The labor to install the following types of capital improvements to real property, which was previously exempt prior to October 1, 2006, is subject to tax.
- Grass plugging of new lawns
- Planting trees, shrubs, hedges, plants, etc.
- Clearing and filling land associated with seeding, sodding, grass plugging of new lawns, or planting trees, shrubs, hedges, plants, etc. This also includes tree/stump removal. Any clearing and filling of land that is not associated with the installation of the above property is not subject to tax, for example, clearing land for a new development. Since the installation of structures remains exempt (see below), clearing and filling land performed in connection with the installation of structures remains exempt from tax.
Other services which may be performed by a landscaper such as the installation of a new fence, low-voltage lighting, a pond, underground sprinkler system, hardscaping (i.e., installation of deck, paver patio, walkway, driveway, swimming pool deck, retaining walls, etc.), and similar structures, remain capital improvements to real property and remain exempt from sales tax.
ABC Landscaper has a contract with a homeowner for the installation of planting materials, such as trees and shrubs. ABC Landscaper hires a subcontractor to perform the taxable planting service. Since ABC is charging the homeowner for a taxable service, ABC must collect tax from the homeowner. The amount charged to ABC by the subcontractor is not subject to tax.
XYZ home builder is constructing a home to sell to the public. XYZ hires ABC Landscaper to perform taxable landscaping services. Since XYZ is selling a home (not a landscaping service), XYZ is the end-consumer of the landscaping services and must pay tax on the amount charged by ABC Landscaper.
Repair and Maintenance Services
The Sales and Use Tax Act currently imposes tax on charges for maintaining, servicing, and repairing real property. (N.J.S.A. 54:32B-3(b)(4). Repair and maintenance services performed by landscapers are subject to tax under this provision. The following are examples of taxable repair and maintenance services performed by landscapers:
- Lawn mowing
- Lawn reseeding
- Lawn fertilizing
- Tree maintenance (trimming, pruning, spraying, bracing, cabling, grafting, coppicing, suckering and feeding)
- Weed/Insect control
Soil aerating, sterilizing and mulching
The law has not changed in this regard and these services remain subject to tax.
Businesses which provide landscaping services are still considered contractors under the law.
Thus, the landscaper is responsible for paying sales or use tax on the materials that are installed onto real property.
Collecting Tax from Customers
A contractor performing “landscaping services” for an end-user must collect 6.625% percent sales tax on the gross sales receipt. However, at the option of the landscaper, the actual cost of materials used and upon which the landscaper paid tax may be separately stated on an invoice. The separate statement of the actual cost of materials would not be subject to the collection of tax. Whenever a contractor performs a taxable service, if the customer is billed a lump sum amount, the entire receipt is taxable. If the contractor separately states the actual cost of materials from the taxable labor, the customer would only be charged tax on the labor portion.
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Updated: March 3, 2022
This information should not be construed as constituting specific legal advice. It is intended to provide general information about this subject and general compliance strategies. For specific legal advice, NJBIA strongly recommends members consult with their attorney.