APSRC has received several inquiries as to whether or not Act 914 of 2021 expands the tax-free exemption historically provided to public schools on purchases of instructional materials to now include the purchase of equipment required to make use of technology-based educational materials and software. It is my opinion that Act 914 does allow for the tax-free purchase of a Chromebook®, iPad® or other electronic devices required to make use of technology-based educational materials and electronic software. Act 914 went into effect on July 1, 2021.
Arkansas Code Annotated Section 26-52-437(a)(1)(D) in defining “Instructional materials” contained a specific exclusion for the equipment required to use the technology-based educational materials and electronic software, meaning sales tax was applied to the purchase of that equipment. Act 914 removed the “except for” and replaced it with an “and” to include, in the tax exclusion, the equipment needed to use the technology-based educational materials and electronic software already exempt.
Further, in looking at the Emergency Clause of Act 914, the legislature provided the following language to justify the emergency enactment of Act 914. “[D]ue to the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, schools in Arkansas have devoted an extraordinary amount of time, effort, and expense to purchasing electronic devices for use as instructional materials in blended and virtual learning efforts for students; and that this act is immediately necessary because its passage will prompt and enable schools across Arkansas to purchase electronic devices for the immediate need and benefit of their students.” Act 914.
Finally, in reviewing the State of Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration’s “What’s New in Sales Tax for 2021” DF&A describes Act 914 as follows: “Act 914 [E]xpands the existing sales and use tax exemption within Ark. Code § 26-52-437(a)(1)(D) regarding “instructional materials” purchased by public schools and public school districts to include equipment required to make use of technology-based educational materials and electronic software.
Because the sales tax exemption for the purchase of electronic equipment is new, school districts and charter schools may need to complete the SST Certificate of Exemption F0003. The certificate and the instructions on how to fill it out are provided on DF&A’s website.
A special thank you should be given to Senator Kim Hammer and Representative Brian Evans for sponsoring and passing this legislation.
For questions or concerns, please contact Michael Helms, Director of Legal Services, at 501-492-4300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.