The Department makes a distinction between activities that take place within the manufacturing operation and activities that either precede or follow the manufacturing operation. For example, creation and design of information, such as writing text for a newspaper, is an activity that takes place before the manufacturing operation begins. However, the preparation of this information for use in a manufactured product, is an activity that generally occurs in the manufacturing operation. Composition of a book or the writing of a newspaper article are activities that are considered product development and outside of the manufacturing operation, and thus are not considered to be within the scope of the M&E exemption.
Similarly, design of an automobile, or engineering of a piston are considered product development and outside of the manufacturing operation. However, taking a completed manuscript and preparing it for printing could be part of the manufacturing operation, as could be the layout and pagination of a newspaper. Other products that have information content, such as compact discs and music are subject to the same tax application. Essentially, the creation of the information is not manufacturing and is not part of the manufacturing operation. Property that is used both in product development and in manufacturing of tangible personal property may be eligible for the M&E exemption, if all other requirements of the exemption are met.
The Department will presume that design activity is not part of the manufacturing operation and machinery and equipment used in design is not eligible for the M&E exemption. Equipment used in redesign or refinement of a product after manufacturing has begun is not eligible for the M&E exemption. This presumption can be overcome by showing that the design decisions and the application of labor and skills to the raw materials are the same activity. ETA 3122