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Florida has changed its position on the taxability of a crane rental with an operator. They now take the position that providing a crane to a customer on an operated and maintained basis constituted a “lifting service” in which control of the crane was never transferred to the customer, and Florida sales tax did not apply to that service. This ruling revises a Technical Assistance Advisement issued in 1995.
According to the ruling, the operation of a crane is an inherently dangerous activity, and an operator/employee could not shift control or operation to its customer. The customer had no right or authority to even enter the crane cab, and the crane company’s operators were solely responsible for the operation and safety of the crane. An indemnity clause in the service contract stating that the equipment and operator were under the lessee’s exclusive supervision and control did not change the character of the contract from a service to a lease or transfer control of the crane to the lessee for sales and use tax purposes. Since the crane company was using the cranes to perform a nontaxable service, a use tax would be due from the crane company on its purchase or lease of the cranes. Technical Assistance Advisement, No. 95A-022-R, Florida Department of Revenue, October 25, 2007