Labor – Installation, Construction, and Fabrication: Minnesota Sales Tax

NOTICE: The sales and use tax on repair and maintenance of certain equipment and machinery for businesses has been repealed effective April 1, 2014

This article explains how Minnesota sales and use tax applies to different types of labor.

What’s New in 2013

Taxable business repair services

Starting July 1, 2013, the repair and maintenance of certain equipment and machinery for businesses will be subject to Minnesota sales and use tax. This includes electronic and precision equipment, and commercial
and industrial machinery and equipment.

Repair and Maintenance Services

Taxable repair and maintenance labor for businesses includes:

  • Repair labor – To restore an item so it can be used for its original purpose.
  • Maintenance labor – To keep an item in good working order or ensure it keeps operating safely and efficiently.

This applies to:

  • Electronic and precision equipment
  • Commercial and industrial machinery and equipment

Maintenance and Warranty Contracts

Optional maintenance contracts to repair and maintain equipment and machinery are taxable. This applies to any new contracts, extensions, or renewals paid for after July 1, 2013.

Extended warranty contracts that cover future, unexpected repair costs are exempt from sales and use tax. If a warranty contract for equipment and machinery covers the entire cost of repair parts, the service provider must pay sales or use tax on their cost of the parts.

How Labor is Sourced

For tax purposes, the sale of repair and maintenance services is “sourced” to the location where the purchaser could potentially first use the item. In other words, the sale occurs where the purchaser receives the repaired machinery or equipment.

Examples of how labor is sourced:
  1. A manufacturer in Iowa uses gauges at its factory to ensure its product meets specifications. It ships the gauges to a test laboratory in Minnesota to verify their accuracy. The lab tests and adjusts the gauges, then ships them back to the manufacturer’s location in Iowa. The sale is sourced to Iowa. The lab does not charge sales tax on the repair or maintenance service.
  2. A Wisconsin contractor brings a forklift to a repair shop in Minnesota for service. The Minnesota shop repairs the forklift. The Wisconsin contractor returns to pick up its forklift at the Minnesota repair shop. The sale is sourced to Minnesota. The shop charges sales tax on the repair service.
  3. A cleaning business located in Minnesota brings some of its vacuums to a repair shop in Wisconsin for service. When the repairs are complete, the cleaning company picks up the vacuums at the repair shop and brings them back to Minnesota. If the cleaning company did not pay Wisconsin sales tax on the service, it owes use tax to Minnesota. (If the company did pay Wisconsin tax, the amount is subtracted from the use tax it owes Minnesota.)

Capital Equipment

Minnesota’s sales tax exemption for capital equipment extends to repair parts and replacement parts. However, the labor to repair or maintain capital equipment is taxable.

These labor charges are not “refundable” – that is, they are not eligible for the capital equipment refund. Charges for repair parts and labor must be separately stated on
the invoice. (If they are not, the repair parts will not be eligible for the capital equipment refund.)

Optional maintenance and warranty contracts for machinery and equipment are considered a bundled transaction with the labor being de minimis. Equipment being serviced under these contracts does qualify for capital equipment. The full amount can be refunded.

Replacement Parts

If a part is being replaced in order to restore the machinery or equipment to working order, you are doing a repair. The labor is subject to sales tax.

Other Charges


If cleaning is necessary as part of a repair or need to
maintain machinery or equipment, the charge for cleaning is subject to sales tax. (For example, the
cleaning of a clogged gear is subject to sales tax.)


Charges for an inspection that results in the repair or
maintenance of a piece of machinery or equipment are also taxable.


Charges for testing are taxable when the test results in the repair or maintenance.

For example, if a test results in the calibration of a gauge; the charges for the test and calibration are both taxable.

Travel or Trip Charges

Mileage and delivery charges that are billed to your customer with repair charges are taxable.

Local Taxes

Local sales taxes might also apply. For more information, see Fact Sheet 164, Local Sales and Use

Record Keeping

Sellers must keep business records that identify whether the customer is an individual or business.

Electronic and Precision Equipment

Sales and use tax applies to labor to repair or maintain electronic and precision equipment if the purchaser can deduct the service as a business expense. This includes:

  • Electronic devices, computers and computer peripherals, monitors, computer terminals, storage devices, and CD-ROM drives
  • Other office equipment such as photocopying machines, printers, and facsimile machines
  • Televisions, stereos, sound systems, video or digital recorders and players
  • Two-way radios and other communications equipment
  • Radar and sonar equipment, medical equipment scientific instruments, and microscopes
Examples of nontaxable electronic and precision equipment repair and maintenance:
  • HVAC systems that are part of an office building
  • Irrigation system at an office building
  • Light fixtures in a warehouse
  • Fire suppression system

Computer software is not electronic and precision equipment. For more information, see Fact Sheet 134, Computer Software.

Motor vehicles are not electronic and precision equipment. For more information, see Fact Sheet 131, Automotive Repairs and Service.

Labor to repair electronic and precision equipment that is attached to real property is construction labor (which is not taxable). For more information, see Fact Sheet 152A, Labor – Installation, Fabrication, and Construction, and Fact Sheet 128, Contractors.

Commercial and Industrial Machinery and Equipment

Labor to repair or maintain commercial and industrial machinery and equipment is taxable, even when the equipment is installed into real property. This includes:

  • Baggage movers
  • Commercial refrigerators and freezers
  • Farm equipment and machinery used in agricultural production (including escalators used for assembly lines)
  • Mechanical cleaning equipment (floor sweepers, washers/scrubbers, etc.)
  • Mining equipment
  • Other heavy machinery (front end loaders. cranes, bulldozers, back hoes, skid steers, forklifts, etc.)
  • Restaurant equipment
  • Truck scales

Repair or maintenance of commercial and industrial machinery and equipment does not include:

  • Motor vehicles (see below)
  • Furniture and fixtures (see below)
  • Ships, railroad stock, and aircraft.

Motor vehicles

Motor vehicles are self-propelled vehicles or trailers that:

  • must be registered for use on public roads; or
  • are designed and manufactured primarily for highway use.

This generally includes passenger cars, trucks, semi- trucks, trailers that must be registered, police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, buses, limousines, motor homes, and motor cycles.

This does not include snowmobiles, boats, off-road vehicles, most farm machinery, and heavy operating machinery.


Furniture is movable articles used in a commercial or industrial building; such as chairs, desks, tables, benches, stools, lamps, bookcases, cubicle partitions, cabinets, or similar items.


Fixtures are items that are permanently attached to a building or structure and cannot be removed without substantial damage.

This includes plumbing, vents, ducts, power outlets and switches with their electrical wiring, security systems, or similar items that are installed into a building.

This does not include production equipment regardless of size, weight, or method of attachment. It also does not include mine shafts, tunnels, and other underground openings to extract ores and minerals (or other materials used to support such openings).


This fact sheet is intended to help you become more familiar with Minnesota tax laws and your rights and responsibilities under the laws. Nothing in this fact sheet supersedes, alters, or otherwise changes any provisions of the tax law, administrative rules, court decisions, or revenue notices.

The content of this and any related posts has been copied or adopted from the Minnesota Department of Revenue Sales Tax Fact Sheet #152B