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Tax Law

Pay to watch play: Florida DOR concludes that video game streaming site subscriptions are subject to Florida communications services tax

The Florida Department of Revenue issued a Technical Assistance Advisement concluding that an internet-based streaming video subscription service is subject to Florida’s communication services tax. The Taxpayer maintains a website where viewers can watch live or on-demand video of individuals (or, “Broadcasters”) playing video games, music or e-sports events. Among other things, the website provides a chat function, whereby viewers may interact with the Broadcasters. Viewers may access this content free of charge or purchase a variety of site-wide or Broadcaster-specific subscriptions to receive additional benefits.

The Taxpayer argued that their services are distinguishable from other streaming subscription services because subscribers purchase subscriptions primarily to support Broadcasters, rather than to receive access to streaming video content (the vast majority of which is available for free to non-subscribers).

The Department nevertheless concluded that the Taxpayer provides a video service subject to the communications services tax. However, because the communications services tax applies only when consideration is paid, the provision of free access to the website is not subject to the tax. Separately, the Department concluded that the Taxpayer’s services did not constitute a sale of tangible personal property or a sale of a taxable service for Florida sales tax purposes.

Florida Technical Assistance Advisement No. 19A19-001, 8/7/2019