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Wisconsin to tax electronic access to construction plans

BY Brae Canlen

Beginning July 1, 2012, contractors, pro dealers and others who want to electronically access or obtain construction plans and construction project information in Wisconsin will be subject to state sales tax and use tax. The Wisconsin Department of Revenue has determined that electronic access to construction plans and project information is taxable as the sale of digital goods.

According to an explanation provide by Ryan, a Dallas-based tax services firm, construction-project information or construction plans are considered digital information products and are subject to tax when transferred electronically, whether sold by subscription or a project-by-project basis. Other examples of "news or other information products" that are taxable digital goods include real-time information of commodity or stock prices, current job opportunities, information alerts sent via email, newsletters transferred electronically and online news services.

Although the state revenue department will consider the construction plans and construction project information accessed electronically taxable digital goods, only sales sourced to a location in Wisconsin will be subject to sales and use tax. If the purchaser does not provide information regarding where the digital goods will first be used, the sale should be sourced to the purchaser’s address. 

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Retail container imports expected to rise 4.8% in June

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to increase 4.8% in June compared with the same month last year, and year-over-year increases are expected to continue into the holiday season shipping cycle, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.


“Retail sales have seen 22 straight months of year-over-year sales increases, and these import projections suggest retailers should see growth into the two-year mark and beyond,” NRF VP for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said. “Cargo numbers don’t correlate directly into sales numbers, but they are an indicator of how much retailers think they can sell.”


U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.23 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in April, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was 3.9% from March and 1.5% from April 2011. (One TEU is one 20-ft. cargo container or its equivalent.)

May was estimated at 1.29 million TEU, up 0.5% from a year ago, and June is forecast at 1.31 million TEU, up 4.8% from the same time last year. July is forecast at 1.36 million TEU, up 2.5%; August at 1.42 million TEU, up 7.3%; September at 1.45 million TEU, up 9%, and October at 1.53 million TEU, up 19.9% over unusually low numbers last year.

The first half of 2012 should total 7.3 million TEU, up 2% from the same period last year. The total for 2011 was 14.8 million TEU, up 0.4% from 2010’s 14.75 million TEU.

Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers the U.S. ports of Long Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston and Savannah on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast.

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Rate of housing starts declines in May

BY Ken Clark

The pace of residential construction slowed in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 708,000, but single-family starts picked up the pace.

The mixed message from the Commerce Department’s residential construction report, released Tuesday morning, also includes this nugget of good news: The previous month of April was revised up — way up — from 711,000 to 744,000. This revision makes April 2012 the strongest month for total housing starts since October 2008.

Also, single-family housing starts in May increased to 516,000, up from 500,000 in April.

The rate of both the total housing starts and single-family starts increased on a year-over-year basis, up 28.5% and 26.1%.

However, the 708,000-pace offers the industry little to celebrate, as 700,000 is at the low end of most full-year forecasts for 2012.

Building permits in May were at a pace of 780,000 — up 7.9% from April, and up 25.0% from May 2011. 

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