Archive for the ‘Texas’ category

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…)

Texas Margin Tax Survives Challenge!

November 30, 2011

 by William Grimsinger

On Monday, November 28, 2011, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the margin tax does not violate the Texas Constitution (specifically, the Bullock Amendment at Article VIII, Section 24) because it is not a tax on the net incomes of natural partners and that the Court did not have jurisdiction to entertain an equal and uniform taxation challenge.

This decisive ruling, with seven justices in the majority and two dissenting, puts an end to speculation about the fate of the margin tax.  The margin tax will remain in place at least through 2012 and likely 2013.  However, there was much discussion in the weeks leading up to this decision about tackling significant tax reform in the next legislative session, which will kick off in January 2013.  Moreover, many school districts have joined the recently filed lawsuit that challenges the school finance system in Texas.   Thus, while we now know that the margin tax passes muster under the Texas Constitution, the Supreme Court’s ruling answers only one of the many open questions about the future of taxes in Texas.

The opinion of the Texas Supreme Court can be found here.

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.

Margin Tax Under Challenge: Suit filed in Texas Supreme Court to Challenge Whether the Texas Margin Tax passes muster under the Constitution of the State of Texas

August 4, 2011

 by William Grimsinger

On July 29, 2011, suit was filed in the Texas Supreme Court alleging that the Texas Margin Tax is unconstitutional under the Constitution of the State of Texas because: (1) it imposes an income tax on a natural person’s share of partnership income without voter approval (contrary to the Bullock Amendment) and (2) the Comptroller’s interpretation of the tax violates the equal and uniform taxation clause of the Texas Constitution.

Under the original Margin Tax statute passed in 2006, any challenge to the tax statute must be brought in the Texas Supreme Court and that court must rule on the challenge on or before 120 days from the challenge.

From the filing date of July 29, 2011, the Texas Supreme Court must issue a ruling on or before November 26, 2011.  November 26, 2011 falls on a Saturday, so it is likely that the Texas Supreme Court would have until Monday, November 28, 2011 to issue its ruling.  However, Thanksgiving falls on Thursday, November 24, 2011.   Given the holiday weekend, it is likely that the Texas Supreme Court will issue its ruling by mid-November if not earlier.

The timing of this challenge to the Texas margin tax is interesting in that the Texas Legislature just completed a legislative session in which substantial cuts to the state’s budget were required due to a shortfall in revenues.  Following the session, several school districts indicated that they would be filing suit again to challenge the Texas school funding system as unconstitutional.

A similar suit filed by the West Orange Cove Consolidated Independent School District was decided by the Texas Supreme Court in 2005.  In that decision, the Texas Supreme Court affirmed the lower court ruling that the school funding system did not meet constitutional requirements.  However, the Court gave the Texas Legislature until June 1, 2006 to remedy the system.  In response, the Texas Legislature enacted the Texas Margin Tax.

With this challenge and with suits by school districts again contemplated, we have come full circle.  The Texas Legislature attempted to put off the difficulty of tax reform for two years in enacting the recent 2011 to 2013 budget, but it appears that this challenge or perhaps challenges by the school district may force action sooner.