Campgrounds' Charges for Campsites and Electricity

A campground's charge for a campsite that includes electricity is generally subject to Wisconsin sales or use tax. In addition, the campground is required to pay Wisconsin sales or use tax on its purchase of the electricity provided with that site with certain exceptions. The following questions and answers explain the Wisconsin sales and use tax treatment of a campground's sales and purchases of electricity and what a campground should do if it has not paid the correct Wisconsin sales and use tax.

Question 1: If a campground provides electricity to its customers who pay to use a campsite on a daily, weekly, or seasonal basis, is the charge to the customer for the electricity taxable?

Answer 1: A campground's charges to use a campsite, including charges for electricity, are taxable. It does not matter whether the charge is marked up or for a daily, weekly, or seasonal campsite.

Exception: If the campsite charge is to a person who uses the site as the person's primary residence, the charge is exempt from sales tax. In addition, the following sales to such persons for use in their primary residence are also exempt:

  • Fuel oil, propane, and wood
  • Electricity during the months of November through April

Question 2: Is a campground required to pay Wisconsin sales or use tax on its purchase of electricity provided with a campsite?

Answer 2: If the charge for electricity is separate and optional from the charge for the campsite, the campground may purchase the electricity without tax for resale. If the electricity is not separate and optional (i.e., the customer cannot pay a lesser amount for the same campsite without the electricity), the campground is required to pay Wisconsin sales or use tax on its purchase of the electricity.

Example 1: Campground X offers campsites for $25 per night. All campsites have electrical hook-ups included. The customer is required to pay $25 per night regardless of whether the electrical hook-up is used. Campground X's $25 charge per night is subject to Wisconsin sales tax as an admission to an amusement, entertainment, or recreational facility.

Campground X's purchases of the electricity supplied to the campsites are also subject to Wisconsin sales or use tax. Campground X is the consumer of this electricity provided with the amusement, entertainment, or recreational facility.

Example 2: Campground Y offers campsites for $25 per night. All campsites have electrical hook-ups available. If a customer wants to use the electrical hook-up, Campground Y charges an additional $5 per night. Campground Y's $25 charge per night charge for the campsite is subject to Wisconsin sales tax as an admission to an amusement, entertainment, or recreational facility. In addition, the $5 per night charge for electricity is also subject to Wisconsin sales tax.

Campground Y may purchase the electricity sold for an additional $5 per night without tax for resale because the charge is separate and optional. Campground Y should provide its electricity supplier with a Wisconsin Sales and Use Tax Exemption Certificate (Form S-211) claiming resale, to purchase this electricity without Wisconsin sales or use tax. (Caution: Even though Campground Y may purchase the electricity used at these campsites without tax for resale, Campground Y must pay Wisconsin sales or use tax on its purchases of electricity used for purposes other than resale, such as in its offices.)

Example 3: Campground A has two campsite offerings. Type 1 does not include electricity and is $20 per night. Type 2 includes electricity and is $25 per night. Campground A does not reduce the charge for Type 2 campsites if customers do not want the electricity. Campground A's $20 and $25 per night charges are subject to Wisconsin sales tax as admissions to an amusement, entertainment, or recreational facilities.

Campground A must pay Wisconsin sales or use tax on its purchases of the electricity provided at Type 2 campsites since the electricity charges are not separate and optional.

Question 3: If I paid sales tax to the utility in error, can I take a credit on my next Wisconsin Sales and Use Tax Return for this overpayment?

Answer 3: No. You must either contact the electric utility to request a refund of the taxes you overpaid or file a Buyer's Claim for Refund (Form S–220) directly with the department. See Publication 216, Filing Claims for Refund of Sales or Use Tax for additional information.

Question 4: If I have not paid sales tax to the utility or not charged my customers sales tax in error, what should I do?

Answer 4: You should file an amended return to report the proper amount of Wisconsin sales or use tax due on your sales and/or purchases.

Page last updated August 27, 2012