It's July, which means it's time for small businesses in California to file their sales and use taxes with the State of California Board Of Equalization (BOE) Sales tax regulations can be complicated (like everything else with the State) due to the different situations that under which photography can occur and the different forms in which it can be transferred to the customer. The simple version goes like this: If you buy a printed photograph from me, it's taxable. If you hire me to photograph something for you as a commercial photographer and I deliver an image to you electronically, it's not taxable. Sounds simple, right? Well, it isn't quite that simple and until recently the BOE was arguing that commercial photography constituted a taxable sale, even if there was no tangible item transferred.
Jeff Sednick, on behalf of the Advertising Photographers of America, has a nice update on his site here, which points to the relevant regulation from the BOE, Regulation 1540. Note that this is different from Regulation 1528 which covers situations like if you come to me for a passport photo or you buy a piece of art and hang it on your wall.