State of Rhode Island - Division of Taxation
Ruling Request No. 94-05
Re: Request for Ruling Regarding the Taxation of Bibles and Other Canonized Scriptures
Request for Ruling
Taxpayer requests a declaratory ruling concerning the taxation of bibles and other canonized scriptures under the sales and use tax law. This request is made pursuant to R.I.G.L. 42-35-8 and the Rhode Island Superior Court Order in Ahlburn, et al v. R. Gary Clark, Tax Administrator, R.I. Superior Court, Providence County, No. P.C. 93-4595 (November 3, 1993).
1. The petitioner purchased a "secular book" and the purchase was taxed.
The petitioner requests the Tax Administrator to declare R.I.G.L. 44-18-30 (EE) unconstitutional
R.I.G.L. 44-18-30 provides in its pertinent part:
44-18-30. Gross receipts exempt from sales and use taxes. -- There are exempted from the taxes imposed by this chapter the following gross receipts:
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(EE) Bibles. From the sale and from the storage, use, or other consumption in this state of any canonized scriptures of any tax exempt nonprofit religious organization including but not limited to the old testament and new testament versions.
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The petitioner alleges that the taxation of secular books while exempting bibles and other canonized scriptures is an unconstitutional violation of the separation of church and state citing Texas Monthly, Inc. v. Bullock, 489 U.S. 1 (1989).
Questions regarding the constitutionality of laws are reserved to the judiciary. Accordingly this office cannot issue an opinion as to the constitutionality of the challenged statute.
R. Gary Clark
December 7, 1994