Archive for the ‘Michigan’ category

Update on Supreme Court Retroactivity Litigation

April 6, 2017

By Adam Koelsch

As previously reported on the SALT Blawg, Chamberlain Hrdlicka attorneys Stewart M. Weintraub and Adam M. Koelsch, together with Peter L. Faber of McDermott, of Will & Emery LLP, filed in the U.S. Supreme Court an amicus brief on behalf of the American College of Tax Counsel in support of the petitioners challenging a retroactive repeal of tax legislation by the state of Michigan.  Although the petitioners and the amici had asserted various reasons for granting certiorari, the most prominent of those assertions was that the repeal, stretching seven years into the past, violates the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Subsequent to those submissions, the Supreme Court removed from its conference calendar the petition submitted in another pending retroactive tax legislation case from Washington state (Dot Foods, Inc. v. State of Washington), presumably to consider it jointly with the Michigan cases at a later date, and also ordered Michigan to submit a response to the petitions filed — moves widely seen as signaling that the Court is interested in addressing Due Process issue.

Michigan has since submitted its response, setting forth a novel basis for denying cert.:  that the 2014 legislation challenged by the petitioners — which repealed retroactive to 2008 a statute authorizing a three-factor apportionment election that had existed since 1970 — was a “legislative clarification” of a 2008 Business Tax statute that had supposedly mandated single-factor apportionment for all prospective years, and was therefore not retroactive at all.  Thus, according to Michigan, application of that principle of state statutory-construction law constitutes an adequate and independent state law ground to uphold the decision of the Michigan state court, thereby depriving the Supreme Court of jurisdiction to review the issue.

Not so, replied the petitioners.  IBM and Skadden Arps submitted reply briefs on March 24 and 27, respectively.  IBM’s brief challenged the assertion that the doctrine of “legislative clarification” in fact exists, and asserted that the any new law that applies to activities (or tax years) in the past is, by definition, retroactive.  Skadden Arps, in its brief, added that the Michigan Court of Appeals had never mentioned the doctrine in its decision, while explicitly acknowledging the statute’s retroactive effect, and that, in any event, “the Supremacy Clause does not allow federal retroactivity doctrine to be supplanted by the invocation of a contrary approach to retroactivity under state law.”  On March 28, a brief filed on behalf of Goodyear Tire, Deluxe Financial Services, and Monster Beverage reiterated the arguments of IBM and Skadden Arps.

The briefs for the Michigan petitioners and for the petitioners in Dot Foods will all be considered during the Court’s conference on April 13, and the Court’s decisions could be announced as early as April 17.

Here, you can find copies of:  the Michigan response briefthe IBM reply briefthe Skadden Arps reply brief, and the Goodyear et al. reply brief.

Weekly Blog Update for Week of 4/20: Alabama Rules in Favor of Online Travel Companies; Georgia Enacts “Amazon” Legislation; STEB Announces Revised Ratio for Philadelphia County; New Mexico Finds Barnes & Noble Trademarks Establish Nexus…and more.

April 23, 2012

 by Jennifer Weidler

ALABAMA

Alabama House Approves Legislation to Update Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights

The Alabama House approved a substitute version of a Bill, HB 105, which would update the Alabama Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights with regard to the protocols for handling taxpayer appeals.

Alabama Supreme Court Finds for Online Travel Companies in Tax Suit

The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s summary judgment decision, which held that online travel companies are not engaged in the business of renting rooms or lodgings or furnished accommodations for the purposes of imposing the municipal lodgings tax upon them. For more detailed coverage of this case, click here. We previously discussed a similar holding in the case of Expedia in Philadelphia.

 

ARIZONA

Arizona House Votes to Delete Use Tax Declaration from Income Tax Forms

The Arizona House has voted to delete the use tax declaration line from its state income tax forms.SeeSB 1214.  Pursuant to SB 1214, the use line would be deleted for tax year 2012 forward.  While the specific use tax declaration line would be deleted from the income tax forms, Arizona residents would still owe use tax on their purchases of goods from out-of-state.

 

GEORGIA

Georgia Governor Signs “Amazon” Legislation

The Georgia Governor signed “Amazon” legislation, HB 386, which establishes click-through nexus in the state.

 

MICHIGAN

Michigan Tax Tribunal Finds Corporate Officer Personally Liable for Tax Deficiency of Company

The Michigan Tax Tribunal held that an individual corporate officer was liable for a company’s sales tax deficiency because the individual was a corporate officer during the relevant time period and failed to prove that he resigned, relinquished or otherwise absolved himself of responsibility for filing and paying the taxes.  As such, the court held that there was subject to corporate officer liability for the taxes at issue.

 

NEW MEXICO

New Mexico Court Holds Barnes & Noble Trademarks Sufficient to Establish Nexus

A New Mexico appellate court has held that a taxpayer who was an online bookseller had substantial nexus through the in-state use of Barnes & Noble trademarks.  Barnes & Noble did not own or lease property in the state, nor did it have any temporary or permanent employees therein. Although the taxpayer was a separate limited liability company, the court found that the in-state activities that were performed under Barnes & Noble trademarks were sufficient to establish nexus since Barnes & Noble’s in-state retail stores created goodwill behind the trademarks where the trademarks were used on and in its in-state stores.  Moreover, the online retailer created goodwill by further advertising for Barnes & Noble and selling gift cards which could be used at the online store or at the physical Barnes & Noble locations.

 

PENNSYLVANIA

Commonwealth Court Holds Company Eligible to Compute Franchise Tax Using Holding Company Apportionment Method

The Commonwealth Court held that a company whose activities consisted of providing corporate oversight to twenty-two (22) wholly owned subsidiaries fell within the definition of a “holding company” where the goodwill that it recorded on the corporation’s balance sheets as an asset was included in its subsidiaries’ actual stock value.  As such, the court held that the company was eligible to compute the franchise tax utilizing the 10% holding company apportionment method.

STEB Announces Revised Common Level Ratio for Philadelphia County for 2010

The State Tax Equalization Board (“STEB”) issued an announcement revising its certified Common Level Ratio (“CLR”) for tax year 2010 in relation to Philadelphia County.  STEB revised the CLR to 25.2% from 18.1%.  In order to arrive at the revised figure, STEB used revised data that was submitted by Philadelphia County.

Weekly Update for 3/16

March 19, 2012

 by Jennifer Weidler

ARIZONA

Arizona Court Holds that Cooperative Direct Mail Advertising is Not Subject to Use Tax

The Arizona Appeals Court held that cooperative direct mail advertising was not subject to the state’s use tax, since the dominant purpose of the taxpayer’s business was to obtain nontaxable design, mailing and printing services, and not tangible personal property.

INDIANA

Indiana Legislature Passes Bill to Phase Out Inheritance Tax

The Indiana General Assembly has passed legislation, SB 293, which will phase out the state’s inheritance tax, gradually reducing the rate until it hits zero during 2022.   The phase out would be retroactive to January 1st.

KANSAS

Kansas House Approves Bill to Alter State Income Tax Structure

The Kansas House approved legislation, SB 177, which would make several modifications to the state’s income tax structure.  The legislation includes changes to the state’s sales tax exemption and business income exemption provisions, formulaic individual income tax rate reductions, Rural Opportunity Zone expansions, tax credits and more.

MARYLAND

Maryland Senate Approves “Amazon” Law

The Maryland Senate has approved legislation, SB 523, which includes an “Amazon” law and an income tax increase.  The bill would add three additional tax brackets and rates and would impose a flat tax on those filers making more than $500,000.  The bill also contains affiliate nexus/”Amazon” language.

MICHIGAN

Michigan Court of Appeals Finds Taxpayer Could Not Collaterally Attack Underlying Assessment

The Michigan Court of Appeals held that a taxpayer could not appeal a use tax assessment, as the sole shareholder and responsible corporate officer of a retailer, where the taxpayer’s appeal was untimely and where he was statutorily precluded from collaterally attacking the underlying assessment.

NEW JERSEY

New Jersey Legislature Passes “Amazon” Law

The New Jersey Assembly has passed legislation, A 2608, which would give Amazon.com a temporary sales tax collection exemption in exchange for job creation.  Pursuant to the bill, those retailers that make capital investments of at least $130 million and create at least 1,500 full-time jobs in the state would not have nexus until July 1, 2013.

New Jersey Legislature Passes Bill Expanding State’s Nexus Rules

The New Jersey Assembly passed legislation, A 2608, which would expand the state’s nexus rules by creating nexus for sellers that use in-state affiliates to perform activities to aid in business development or to maintain a New Jersey business market.  Moreover, the bill would create nexus for out-of-state businesses with distribution centers or subsidiaries in the state.

PENNSYLVANIA

Philadelphia DOR Releases 2012 KOZ Booklet

The Philadelphia Department of Revenue has released its 2012 Philadelphia Keystone Opportunity Zone Programs Booklet, which provides guidance on calculations, credits, two-factor apportionment formula, and more.

TENNESSEE

Tennessee General Assembly Approves Bill to Exempt Amazon from Tax

The Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation, HB 2370, which would temporarily exempt Amazon.com from collecting state sales tax.  Pursuant to the legislation, Amazon.com will build new facilities in the state and create thousands of jobs, in exchange for sales tax exemption through January 1, 2014.  The bill is now awaiting the Governor’s signature.

TEXAS

Texas Announces Amnesty Program Slated for June 2012

Texas has announced that it will offer a tax amnesty program for businesses, during which it will waive all interest and penalties for taxpayers that file or amend delinquent tax reports and pay all taxes due.  Reports originally due prior to April 1, 2012 are eligible, and the amnesty program will run from June 12 through August 17, 2012.

Weekly SALT Update – Jan. 30, 2012: Virginia’s “Amazon” Legislation, Amazon’s Jobs Offer in Florida, Cert Denials in General Motors and Texas Entertainment Association… and more

January 31, 2012

 by Jennifer Weidler

CALIFORNIA

California Shifts Burden of Proof in Vacation or Secondary Home Assessment Appeals from County to Taxpayer

The California Legislature adopted Bill 711, effective January 1, 2012, which clarifies that an owner-occupied single-family dwelling means one that is the owner’s principal place of residence.  Thus, only single-family dwellings that are the principal place of residence of the taxpayer qualify for a homeowner’s property tax exemption.  With regard to such properties, the assessor has the burden of proof in any assessment appeals hearing.  Conversely, when the property involves a taxpayer’s vacation or secondary home in California, the Bill shifts the burden of proof from the assessor to the taxpayer. (more…)

2011 Year-End SALT Update

January 6, 2012

 by Jennifer Weidler

ARIZONA

Arizona DOR Finds Nexus for Sales Representatives Providing Customer Support and Training

Of course it had nexus: Arizona DOR rules that corporation has substantial nexus due to presence of sales representatives who provide customer support and training.

(more…)

Weekly SALT Update Nov. 7, 2011

November 7, 2011

 By Paul Masters with contributions by Jennifer Weidler in Chamberlain’s Philadelphia office.

State Regulations and Public Notices

California Board of Equalization issues a proposal to amend the definition of “retailers engaged in business in this state,” in conformance with AB 155. It will take effect either September 15, 2012 or January 2013. The effect of this change would be to expand the requirement for retailers to register with the Board and remit California use taxes, or to be subject to payment of these use taxes on such failure to remit.

Utah State Tax Commission notifies public of proposed rule change implementing three-factor formula for apportionment It also requires services to be “inUtah” if the benefit inUtah exceeds that received in any other state, and sets forth rules for the apportionment of income from intangible property.

Indiana Department of Revenue issues information bulletin on application of sales tax to restaurants, and a dealer must pay sales tax on the value of cars not used by sales staff, services to setup rented property are included as taxable as part of the rental receipts, cleaning agents do not qualify for manufacturing exemption, and no public transportation exemption for company that did not document sale of trucking services for hire – listed wrong on invoice. And in an expanded discussion, the DOR rules a manufacturer must pay use tax on HVAC equipment essential for manufacturing operations.

And then there were seven: Ohio revises its requirement for Ohio car dealers to collect Ohio sales tax on non-resident purchases of cars to be taken out of state, with collection required for seven states.

Colorado DOR revises FYI detailing responsibility of taxpayer to pay sales tax on vending machine receipts. Colorado DOR revises FYI 62 regarding rules on collecting local sales tax to be remitted to the state. (more…)

Weekly SALT Update – Nov. 3, 2011

November 3, 2011

 By Paul Masters with contributions by Jennifer Weidler in Chamberlain’s Philadelphia office.

State DOR Letters and Policy Rulings

But where’s your paper … New Mexico hearings officer rules that a taxpayer does not qualify for a gross receipts tax deduction merely because the taxpayer did not possess any nontaxable transaction certificates as required by NMSA 1978, Section 7-9-43 (2001). Other states have similar requirements for certificates, but merely because they are “required” does not necessarily mean the courts agree.

Virginia Tax Commissioner rules that an egg tray washer was not “processing” as defined by Virginia Code § 58.1-609.3(2)(iii) as it was used between the processing to maintain cleanliness. Even though the equipment was necessary to operate the actual processing, the equipment itself was not involved in the processing of the eggs for sale. Similarly, a “honey wagon” that was used to collect the bird droppings and then spray the droppings as fertilizer on fields was not part of the processing, even though the droppings came from the waste resulting from the cleaning of the eggs. Finally, the Commissioner rules that pit fans used to dry bird droppings that are then sold to farmers as fertilizer are not processing, but do qualify for the agricultural exemption at Virginia Code § 58.1-609.2(1). Different result should apply in Texas, as drying an item is a physical change, thus processing.

State Regulations and Public Notices

North Carolina updates its taxability matrix for the SSUTA.

The New Jersey Division of Taxation has published answers to frequently asked questions relating to the NJ-1040 e-filing mandate. For the 2011 taxable year forward, tax preparers expecting to prepare eleven (11) or more New Jersey individual income tax returns must electronically file those returns for which an electronic filing option is available.  Those returns not included in the e-filing mandate are New Jersey nonresident, part-year resident, amended and prior year returns.

The Connecticut Department of Revenue issued an Informational Publication (IP 2011(15)) answering frequently asked questions regarding the Connecticut individual use tax.  The Informational Publication addresses changes in legislation affecting Connecticut use tax filing and payment obligations, which occurred during 2011.

Starting January 1, 2011, those tax preparers filing more than five (5) returns per year with New York are now required to e-file.  The New York Department of Taxation may impose a penalty on both the preparer and the taxpayer for a failure to electronically file returns.  Additionally, beginning with the return due on March 20, 2012, sales tax returns for annual filers must be filed electronically.

State Legislative Affairs

Economic nexus comes into play again. Michigan signs into law SB 650 which defines nexus for a financial institution as any of the following: (i) physical presence, (ii) Michigan source receipts of at least $350,000 or (iii) has an ownership interest in a flow through entity.

Judicial and Administrative Decisions and Pleadings

A coalition of public school districts in Texas files suit against the State of Texas on constitutional grounds, arguing that the state tax system funding public schools is unfair, and does not provide the schools with sufficient funding to provide a free education to students.

In another school funding case, a federal district court rules against Lynch, who argued that Alabama’s property tax rates, among the lowest in the country, violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. How? The tax scheme limits the ability of rural counties to tax wealthy white landowners. The opinion is looooong – really long. In the end, the court focused on its view that the tax structure was based on economics, not race, and therefore passed muster under the rational basis standard.

On further thought … Washington Court of Appeals reverses its decision on remand and finds that a hospital was not entitled to an exemption for amounts collected and paid to a third-party service provider. In its initial decision, the Court of Appeals determined that the payments did not qualify as gross income subject to business and occupation (B&O) tax. But the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ ruling in Washington Imaging Services, LLC v. Wash. Dept. of Rev., 252 P3d 885 (Wash. 2011). Because there was no independent obligation for its patients to pay the third-party service provider for services rendered, the hospital did not make payments on behalf of its patients as their agent, the payments made constituted gross income. The exemption under Wash. Admin. Code § 458-20-111 did not apply as they payments were not customary reimbursements or advances made in the ordinary course of business.

NY Division of Tax Appeals rules against the estimated assessment made by an auditor for sales tax. While the taxpayer lacked the records necessary to avoid an estimated audit, the auditor made assumptions not based on reality, used information limited to only one quarter and extrapolated over a multi-year period. Thus the assessment was arbitrary.

Illinois Court of Appeals affirms decision to use income valuation approach because the sales comparison method provided unreliable. The government had used comparisons that included sales resulting from Department of Justice divestiture orders. Such sales necessarily are not defined as arm’s length transactions.

The Texas Court of Appeals for the 14th District (Houston) rules that Hotels.com and other similar online companies need not remit occupancy tax on the full amount received by online customers for the purchase of hotel space through the web site. Rather, the hotel occupancy tax is levied solely on the amount received by the hotel.

Other Documents

None noted.