I’m having this most surrealistic dialog with a very agreeable iTunes support person, about invoicing. The thing is I bought a few apps from the iTunes app store, among which Omni Focus for the iPhone, but the invoice (or “receipt”) I got from Apple doesn’t mention sales tax at all. Just the net amount in Swedish crowns. It is, however, correctly addressed to my company.
As practically anyone realizes, this is super weird and means I can’t recover the sales tax when I enter this document into my accounting. So I wrote to iTunes support and asked for a correct invoice. The ensuing conversation follows (I took out the name of the iTunes representative).
I got this invoice through email but there is no mention of VAT.
Since the invoice is Swedish, there ought to be VAT (MOMS) and IT
MUST BE SPECIFIED! I can’t use this invoice in my accounting like
this. I’m buying on a company account, which is clear from my
What do I do now?
I understand you are concerned as to why your email receipt for an
iTunes Store purchase does not summarize the amount of tax you paid
on the purchase. You require this information due to purchasing
this music on a company account.
I am sorry that the receipt is not completely to your requirements,
however The iTunes Store sells only to customers as end-users for
personal, noncommercial use in their respective countries of
residence. The amount you see on your receipt is a total
(including tax) with this purpose in mind.
For more information, you can review the iTunes Store Terms and
I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you Martin.
iTunes Store Customer Support
Ok, so you officially claim that iTunes Store products are NOT for
commercial use??! THAT is an interesting observation, if I’ve ever
seen one. Especially since I’m developing commercial applications for
the iTunes store! Oh, boy, is this going to be an interesting article…
But may I also point you to the Swedish law, if that is of any
consequence to you?
The above is a page on the Swedish tax department page that says in
detail what MUST be part of a receipt, and VAT/MOMS is one of those
So, please, D….., don’t brush me off. Take this higher, pronto. I
want a better answer than what you just provided me with. I’m
certainly not going to settle for that.
D….., here again from iTunes. Thank you for writing back to me. Although I do understand your concern here, I want you to know that before I responded to you I spoke to my supervisors and again this morning with regards to your issue.
Again the response is the same. Purchases from the iTunes Store are for non commercial purposes only (as referenced in the usage section of the terms of sale). Although I do realize you may be working on projects for Apple, this does not change the fact that the items sold on the iTunes Store can only be used for personal reasons.
I wish that I could help you further here Martin, but keep in mind that Apple does not own the content that we distribute. We are selling on behalf of our content providers, and the specific terms of your agreement with Apple when purchasing from the iTunes Store is that the content may not be used for commercial purposes (even if you are working on projects for us). Thus, any attempts to claim your purchases for tax reasons would be in violation of the terms of sale.
Again Martin, please accept my apologies.
iTunes Store Customer Support
My response today:
Yes, but you’re avoiding my two main arguments. One is that I’m developing business applications, while you’re telling me that you don’t sell applications for business use. So I can’t sell my applications on the app store. Right? It’s only for games, right? How come you seem to approve applications that are clearly intended to help with accounting, time management, or even professional health care apps, like what your own VP Forrestal bragged about during a keynote? These applications are clearly against your own policy and should never be approved for distribution.
So, tell me again, why should I bother developing professional applications? Just to have them refused on policy grounds, because they’re not games?
Secondly, Swedish law requires you to specify sales tax, REGARDLESS of if you sell to a business or a private person. You didn’t answer this one either.
Yes, I did check the Apple iTunes store policy on the Swedish site, and sure enough, it says they only sell for “end-user” consumption and not for business purposes. This seems to preclude most of the things one would use the iPhone application platform for. Very, very strange. It seems as if D…. is thinking I’m buying music on a company account, which would be weird, I admit, but that’s not what I’m doing. I’m buying business apps on a company account, but the iTunes policy makes no allowance for anything but music and games, it seems.
Update: I very quickly got this response from D…:
D….., here again from iTunes. You make some good arguments here Martin, but I really am sorry that as a 1st level representative there is little myself, or my supervisors can to to alter the way the receipts are sent out, or make any adjustments to our terms of sale to suit individual needs.
Please know that I do understand how this may feel frustrating to you. I have felt the same way before in similar circumstances. I have found in situations like this that voicing your opinion is a good way to get the “ball rolling”.
Please note that Apple does take the feedback from our customers very seriously. This is the reason for our feedback page – to create a forum where our users can vent, praise or share whatever feelings they have to allow us to meet your needs, and grow as a company.
I would encourage you to share this link with all of your friends and family who wish to see the changes you require, and have them all submit the same request.
Here is that link for you.
I know it can seem like a straight feedback link will yield no results so I will also invite you to check out the following link. This is a letter from Apple’s CEO addressing customers who purchased an iPhone very early on at $599, then the price was reduced to $399 shortly after. Mr. Jobs heard our customers and Apple responded accordingly.
I hope that you will consider sharing your thoughts on the feedback page.
iTunes Store Customer Support
Now, that’s a great idea! I’ll do that. I hope others will as well. This is what I sent in through the feedback page:
After purchasing a professional app from the app store (OmniFocus) I received a receipt without Swedish VAT specified. When I complained to the iTunes support, I was told that the iTunes store, by policy, only sells non-business applications for non-business purposes to private persons, and does not allow any professional use. Which explains why receipts don’t specify VAT so they can’t easily be used for accounting purposes. I checked you policies and sure enough, you don’t allow business apps.
Now, this is clearly absurd. Many people like me buy apps for business purposes from the iTunes app store and many organizations like mine do or plan to develop business applications for the iPhone.
In other words, your policy and sales both effectively stop us from both buying and selling business related software for the iPhone. This can’t possibly be your intention, or is it? Especially since Scott Forrestal demoed a number of clearly business oriented apps in his keynotes. This makes no sense!
You’ll find the details on my blog, with a copy of the email exchange I had with your support:
PS: this feedback form requires me to check all the things I use iTunes for, but nowhere do you mention anything related to the app store. Don’t you even know it exists?