Archive for the ‘Pennsylvania’ category

H.R. 327 Passes – Pennsylvania Creates New Tax Modernization Subcommittee

June 21, 2017

By: Jennifer Weidler Karpchuk

On June 19, the House unanimously voted to approve H.R. 327, thereby establishing a subcommittee on tax reform and modernization.  You can see our previous discussion of H.R. 327 here.

Since H.R. 327 was a House Resolution, it does not need to be approved by the Senate.  The subcommittee will have nine Finance Committee members who will be responsible for submitting their findings and recommendations by November 30, 2018.

Resolution Proposes Establishing Pennsylvania Subcommittee on Tax Modernization and Reform

June 13, 2017

By: Jennifer Weidler Karpchuk

During May 2017, H.R. 327 was introduced and reported as committed by the House on June 13, 2017.  H.R. 327 would establish a select subcommittee on tax modernization and reform to investigate, review, and make recommendations concerning the process, rates, and methods by which revenue in Pennsylvania is collected and assessed on taxpayers.

The purpose of the Resolution is to examine and review Pennsylvania’s system of taxation to ensure an equitable and efficient means by which taxes are assessed and collected and to facilitate a fair and competitive marketplace in an ever-changing global economy.

The subcommittee would investigate, review, and make findings and recommendations regarding: (1) the rates and means by which taxes are assessed and collected; (2) whether certain taxes are outdated or could be modernized to reflect the current economy; and (3) how to maintain competitiveness and reduce the overall burden on taxpayers without jeopardizing the stability of overall revenue. The subcommittee would also review other states’ best practices and methods for levying and collecting various taxes.  Finally, the subcommittee would develop recommendations which: (1) encourage equitable and fair tax policy; (2) provide certainty and uniformity for taxpayers; (3) facilitate cost-effective and economic tax collection practices; and (4) promote transparency and simplicity to aid taxpayer understanding of Pennsylvania’s tax policies.

The subcommittee would be responsible for submitting a report of its findings by November 30, 2018.

H.R. 327 is a step in the right direction. Whenever a state is willing to reconsider its own practices and to analyze what other states are doing well and use that knowledge to reevaluate its own system, there is great potential that both taxpayers and the taxing state can benefit.

You can follow the progress of the Resolution here.

Don’t Delay – Pennsylvania’s 2017 Tax Amnesty Program Starts Today

April 21, 2017

By Jennifer Weidler Karpchuk

As of today, April 21, 2017, Pennsylvania’s 2017 Tax Amnesty Program has officially commenced.  Those individuals with potential Pennsylvania tax liabilities should consider taking advantage of the program, which is slated to run through June 19, 2017.  During those sixty (60) days, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue will waive all penalties and half of the interest for anyone who participates.  For more information, see our previous blog post hereContact us to find out if amnesty is the right choice for you.

Proposed Remote Seller Notice and Reporting Requirements in Pennsylvania Post-DMA

March 8, 2017

By Adam Koelsch

Just a few months after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the decision of the Tenth Circuit in Direct Mktg. Ass’n v. Brohl — which upheld Colorado’s sales tax notice and reporting requirements for out-of-state retailers — a Pennsylvania lawmaker has reintroduced a bill requiring online retailers to notify Pennsylvania purchasers when sales and use tax is due on their purchases.

In 2010, the Colorado legislature enacted a statute which requires a remote retailer that sells products to Colorado customers, but does not collect Colorado sales tax, to notify those customers that sales or use tax is due on certain purchases made from the retailer and that Colorado requires those customers to file sales or use tax returns.  Colo. Rev. Stat. § 39-21-112 (3.5)(c)(I).  Failure to provide that notice subjects the retailer to a penalty of five dollars ($5.00) for each such failure, unless the retailer shows reasonable cause for such failure.  Colo. Rev. Stat. § 39-21-112 (3.5)(c)(II).

In addition, the statute requires that such retailers must send a notification to each Colorado customer by January 31 of each year showing, among other information, the total amount paid by the customer for Colorado purchases made from the retailer in the previous calendar year.  Colo. Rev. Stat. § 39-21-112 (3.5)(d)(I)(A).  Failure to send that notification subjects the retailer to a penalty of ten dollars ($10.00) for each such failure, unless the retailer shows reasonable cause for such failure.  Colo. Rev. Stat. § 39-21-112 (3.5)(d)(III)(A).

The statute further requires that such retailers file an annual statement for each Colorado customer with the Department of Revenue showing the total amount paid for Colorado purchases by such customers during the preceding calendar year, to be filed on or before March 1 of each year.  Colo. Rev. Stat. § 39-21-112 (3.5)(d)(II)(A).  Failure to file that annual statement subjects the retailer to a penalty of ten dollars ($10.00) for each purchaser that should have been included in the statement, unless, again, the retailer shows reasonable cause for such failure.  Colo. Rev. Stat. § 39-21-112 (3.5)(d)(III)(B).

The Data & Marketing Association (“DMA,” formerly the Direct Marketing Association), challenged the above Colorado notice and reporting requirements in federal court, claiming that those requirements violated the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by imposing burdens on out-of-state retailers that were not imposed upon in-state retailers.  In 2011, a preliminary injunction was issued by the federal district court, which, in 2012, also concluded that the Colorado statute violated the Commerce Clause.  In 2013, the Tenth Circuit dissolved the injunction and reversed the decision of the district court — holding that the district court did not have jurisdiction pursuant to the Tax Injunction Act — only to, in turn, have its decision reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court on March 3, 2015, in Direct Mktg. Ass’n v. Brohl, 135 S. Ct. 1124 (2015).  On remand, the Tenth Circuit again reversed the district court, holding that the Colorado statute did not violate the Commerce Clause.  On December 12, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court denied DMA’s petition for a writ of certiorari.

Meanwhile, after the Tenth Circuit had dissolved the preliminary injunction in 2013, DMA had filed for, and had obtained, another injunction in Colorado state court.

But, on February 23, 2017, DMA and the State of Colorado settled the case, thereby dissolving the state court injunction and finally ending the litigation.  As part of that settlement, the Department of Revenue agreed that the litigation involving DMA over the constitutionality of the statute had constituted reasonable cause for non-compliance with the statute, and that, therefore, the Department would not require compliance with the statute and its accompanying regulations before July 1, 2017, and that it would waive any penalties for failure to comply with the statute and the regulations before that date.

Subsequent to the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to review the Tenth Circuit’s decision, a number of states have introduced bills to create notice and reporting requirements similar to those of Colorado.  In particular, in Pennsylvania, on February 17, 2017, Rep. W. Curits Thomas introduced H.B. 542 — a bill substantially similar to the one which he had introduced in 2015, only to have it die in committee when the legislative session adjourned.

H.B. 542 imposes more modest requirements than the Colorado statute.  For instance, H.B. 542 does not require that annual notifications be sent to purchasers, or require that an annual statement be filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.  Instead, the proposed statute requires that a seller or a remote seller “conspicuously provide” to a Pennsylvania purchaser, on each separate sale of tangible personal property or taxable services via an Internet website operated by that seller or remote seller, the following notice:

Unless you paid Pennsylvania sales tax on this purchase, you may owe a Pennsylvania use tax on this purchase based on the total sales price of the purchase in accordance with the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the Tax Reform Code of 1971. Visit http://www.revenue.state.pa.us for more information.  If you owe a Pennsylvania use tax on this purchase, you must report and remit the tax on your Pennsylvania income tax form.

H.B. 542 § 279(a).  The proposed statute provides no guidance regarding what constitutes a sufficiently “conspicuous” notice.

A failure by the seller to provide such notice will subject the seller to a fine of “not less than” five dollars ($5.00) for each such failure.  H.B. 542 § 279(b).  The proposed statute would be applicable only to transactions occurring more than sixty (60) days after its enactment.

In light of this proposed statute, and those like it introduced in other states, remote sellers should be alert to any newly imposed notice and reporting requirements in each of the states in which they sell their products.

The text of H.B. 542 is available here.

Start of Pennsylvania 2017 Tax Amnesty Program Draws Near – Do You Qualify?

February 24, 2017

By Jennifer Weidler Karpchuk

In less than two (2) months, Pennsylvania’s 2017 Tax Amnesty Program will commence.  Those individuals with potential Pennsylvania tax liabilities should consider taking advantage of the program, which is slated to run from April 21, 2017 through June 19, 2017.  During those sixty (60) days, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue (“Department”) will waive all penalties and half of the interest for anyone who participates.

The program applies to delinquencies existing as of December 31, 2015 – whether or not the delinquency is known to the Department.  The litany of taxes eligible for the program includes:

  • Agriculture Cooperative Tax;
  • Bank and Trust Company Shares Tax;
  • Capital Stock or Foreign Franchise Tax;
  • Cigarette Tax;
  • Corporate Loans Tax;
  • Electric Cooperative Tax;
  • Employer Withholding Tax;
  • Financial Institutions/Title Insurance Company Shares Tax;
  • Fuel Use Tax;
  • Gross Premiums Tax;
  • Gross Receipts Tax;
  • Hotel Occupancy Tax (including state administered 1% local Hotel Occupancy Tax for Philadelphia and Allegheny);
  • Inheritance and Estate Tax;
  • Liquid Fuels Tax;
  • Malt Beverage Tax;
  • Marine Underwriting Profits Tax;
  • Motor Carriers Road Tax, for IFTA vehicles, PA portion only;
  • Motor Vehicle Carriers Gross Receipts Tax;
  • Mutual Thrift Institutions Tax;
  • Oil Company Franchise Tax;
  • Parimutuel Wagering and Admissions Tax;
  • Personal Income Tax;
  • Public Transportation Assistance (“PTA”);
  • Public Utility Realty Tax;
  • Realty Transfer Tax, including Local Realty Transfer Tax;
  • Sales and Use Tax, including Local Sales and Use Tax for Philadelphia and Allegheny;
  • Surplus Lines Tax;
  • Unauthorized Insurance Tax; and
  • Vehicle Rental Tax.

Notably, the 2017 Tax Amnesty Program does not include Unemployment Compensation (which is administered by the Department of Labor and Industry), nor does it include any tax administered by another state, local government, or the Federal government.

Pursuant to the program, the taxpayer is responsible for paying the principal tax due, plus one-half interest.  The Department will, in turn, rescind any liens or other enforcement actions for that debt; waive all penalties associated with the debt; waive one-half interest; and waive any fees (ex. lien filing fees or collection agency fees).

Along with the payment for all taxes and one-half of the interest, all missing tax returns or reports must be filed no later than June 19, 2017.  However, a taxpayer with unknown liabilities reported and paid pursuant to the Tax Amnesty Program is eligible for a limited look-back period whereby the taxpayer will not be liable for any taxes of the same type due prior to January 1, 2011.

Those taxpayers who are eligible for the 2017 Tax Amnesty Program, but do not participate will be subject to a five-percent (5%) non-participation penalty.  Generally speaking, individuals, businesses and other entities with state tax delinquencies as of December 31, 2015 (whether known or unknown to the Department) are eligible to participate in the program.  However, any taxpayer who participated in the Department’s 2010 Tax Amnesty Program is ineligible to participate in the 2017 program.  Taxpayers who have entered into Voluntary Disclosure Agreements with the Department are likewise ineligible to participate.  Nevertheless, taxpayers who have entered into deferred payment agreements with the Department are eligible for the 2017 Tax Amnesty Program.  Notably, a taxpayer who applies for tax amnesty forfeits all future appeal rights for liabilities paid through the program.

Business taxpayers may request a statement of account that shows all liabilities by visiting e-TIDES at http://www.etides.state.pa.us.  Individual taxpayers may review account information, including all liabilities, by visiting the Personal Income Tax e-Services Center at http://www.doreservices.state.pa.us.  Please contact us if you need assistance in determining whether you qualify for the 2017 Tax Amnesty Program and whether participation in the program is the right choice for you.

PA Commonwealth Court Holds That A Sheriff’s Sale “Restarted” to Allow Completion of Sale Terms Is Subject to the Same Procedures as an Initial Sale

February 8, 2017

By Adam Koelsch

In an unreported opinion, on February 6, 2017, the Commonwealth Court vacated an order of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, which had granted the motion of a Sheriff’s sale purchaser to intervene and to extend time to complete payment of the Sheriff’s sale purchase price.  The Commonwealth Court characterized the Purchaser’s motion as a “restart” of the Sheriff’s sale subject to the same detailed notice and hearing procedures as the initial sale.

In City of Philadelphia v. Singhal, No. 128 C.D. 2016, it was undisputed that the City of Philadelphia had properly served notice of the Sheriff’s sale upon the Owner by posting, and by certified mail at the property address and at the Owner’s registered mailing address in Philadelphia.  Although the Municipal Claims and Tax Liens Act (“MCTLA”), which governs Sheriff’s sales in the City, requires that an owner register a notice of interest in the property with the City and update the mailing address shown on the notice (53 P.S. §7193.1), the Owner had failed to amend the notice to show that she was living in Maryland.  As a result, the Owner was supposedly unaware that the property had been sold at Sheriff’s sale.

The Purchaser at the Sheriff’s sale had paid a down payment for the property, but had failed to pay the remaining amount within 30 days, causing the Sheriff to file a writ of return for the Purchaser’s failure to comply with the sale terms.

Meanwhile, the Owner had become aware of the Sheriff’s sale, had paid the remaining delinquent taxes, and had rented the property to a third-party tenant.

Thereafter, the Purchaser filed a motion to intervene and requested permission from the Court of Common Pleas to complete the terms of the sale.  The court ordered the Purchaser to serve a notice of hearing on all interested parties, which included the Owner.  Knowing that the Owner did not reside at the property, the Purchaser sent notice to the Owner only at the property, failing to send it to the Owner’s out-of-date registered address in Philadelphia.  A hearing was held without the Owner, and the Purchaser’s motion was granted, allowing him to pay the balance of the purchase price.  The Commonwealth Court noted that the lower court’s order had stated that there was “[n]o objection by the City,” which was troubling in light of the fact that the Owner had paid all of the taxes due before the hearing.

Eleven months later, the Owner filed a motion to vacate the order.  The court denied the Owner’s motion without a hearing as “untimely and procedurally improper” under 53 P.S. § 7193.3, which requires any petition to set aside a Sheriff’s sale to be filed within three months after the acknowledgement of the Sheriff’s sale deed.

On review of that denial, the Commonwealth Court characterized the Purchaser’s motion as a “restart” of the Sheriff’s sale not expressly provided for in the MCTLA.  In other words, the sale of the property had “included some improvisational aspects” beyond the relevant provisions of the governing law.  The Court, however, reasoned that at least some of the requirements set forth in the MCTLA relating to a Sheriff’s sale in the first instance — particularly, the requirements of notice to the Owner by mailing of a rule to show cause, and an inquiry by the trial court into whether the facts underlying the petition for sale are true — are likewise applicable to a “restart” sale.

Therefore, the Purchaser was required to serve notice of his motion, just as the City had done with respect to the initial Sheriff’s sale, upon the Owner at her registered address in Philadelphia.  This was despite the fact, as acknowledged by the Court, that the Owner would not have actually received the notice because she was living in Maryland.  Nevertheless, the Purchaser had failed to comply with the statutory notice requirements.

Because there was no legal authority to make the sale, the grant of an equitable remedy, such as the grant of the Owner’s untimely motion to set aside a Sheriff’s sale, was permissible.  Thus, according to the Commonwealth Court, the lower court had abused its discretion by summarily denying the motion, and thereby failing to inquire into whether the notice of motion was properly served and whether the delinquent property taxes were still outstanding.

While the Commonwealth Court highlighted what the Purchaser had done wrong in this case, it was not explicit about what the proper procedure would be for such a “restart” sale in the future.  For instance, the Court said nothing about the whether the Purchaser was required to post his motion and notice at the property, which is a requirement applicable to the notice of any initial Sheriff’s sale, and which was apparently not done in this case.  Whatever the proper procedure is, it requires, at minimum, a mailed notice to the registered address of the property owner, and an inquiry by the trial court as to whether the factual predicate for the sale (i.e., a tax delinquency) still exists.

The Commonwealth Court opinion is available here

Philadelphia RAR Overpayments – Not for the Faint of Heart

January 12, 2017

Chamberlain Hrdlicka’s SALT Practice Chair, Stewart Weintraub, recently wrote an article about Philadelphia RAR Overpayments for the Journal of Multistate Taxation and Incentives.

His article, “Philadelphia RAR Overpayments – Not for the Faint of Heart,” discusses a recent Philadelphia case in which a statute of limitations barring a refund did not prohibit credits against future taxes.

Stewart outlined the Philadelphia Business Income and Receipts Tax (BIRT) structure, the facts of the case, the statute of limitations issues and the case’s conclusion. The article explores the possibility of broader implications.

Reference the full article here.