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(This article originally was published by Law360 on July 1, 2019.)

One of the more recent and aggressive shifts in state tax administration has been the rise of the state False Claims Act, or FCA, tax lawsuit. The scourge of the tax community, these lawsuits represent a shift from the disciplined examination by state tax authorities to a free-for-all attack by anyone with a theory on an alleged unfulfilled tax obligation.

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On July 23-24, members of Pillsbury SALT will lead discussions at COST’s much anticipated state and local tax technology workshop in Foster City, Calif. This one-and-a-half day event promises to deliver in-depth state and local tax content tailored to technology businesses—everything from startups to long established companies. The varied presentations are for those new to tax and those who are tax savvy.

Pillsbury SALT members will lead discussions on a number of topics, including:

  • “Market-Based Sourcing for Tech Companies: Identifying ‘Customers’ and Locating Their ‘Benefits'” (Marc Simonetti)
  • “Beware of the Locals—They Might Take You by Surprise” (Carley Roberts)
  • “All Things Property Tax for Tech Companies” (Craig Becker)
  • “Ask The Experts” (Jeffrey Vesely)

For more information and to register, please visit the event page.

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gross-receipt-taxes-portlandAs of January 1, 2019, large retailers doing business in Portland, Ore., are subject to a new 1% gross receipts tax dubbed the “Clean Energy Surcharge.” This new tax is imposed on all businesses subject to the Portland business license tax that have annual retail receipts of over $1 billion and at least $500,000 annual retail receipts attributable to Portland. This tax has complications that qualifying large retailers should keep in mind. For instance, the tax is unconventionally broad and applies to, among other things, services (generally, without enumeration), interest income from lending, and sales of houses by builders. The tax uses current-year receipts, as opposed to prior-year receipts, to determine whether the thresholds are met, so businesses that may not be sure in advance if they will meet the thresholds should take caution accordingly. Finally, as is often the case with localities, Portland intends to apply its business license tax apportionment rule (income-producing activity approach), which differs from that of the State (market-based sourcing).

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(This article originally was published by Law360 on May 17, 2019.)

In the last year, several state legislatures have enacted laws and several state courts have published decisions on whether software as a service, or SaaS, is subject to sales and use tax. These developments impact many SaaS providers, especially due to the expanded nexus provisions that many states are enacting after the United States Supreme Court’s South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc. decision.1 The states have gone in different directions—Indiana enacted legislation exempting SaaS, while Iowa and Rhode Island began taxing SaaS. The Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board and the Pennsylvania Board of Finance and Revenue have both issued decisions clarifying the taxability of SaaS offerings.

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TAKEAWAYS

On April 25, 2019, California enacted comprehensive marketplace facilitator legislation. Many said last fall this would be an impossible feat given the divided constituency of the California Legislature on whether all marketplace facilitators should be treated equally for purposes of imposing California’s Sales and Use Tax law. Consider the impossible achieved. California’s sweeping Marketplace Facilitator Act, adopted under Assembly Bill (AB) 147, treats virtually all marketplaces the same.

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(This article was originally published by Law360 on April 16, 2019.)

In recent years, many have openly criticized California for its income tax litigating position involving out-of-state companies that hold passive, minority interests in pass-through entities doing business in California. The state argues these out-of-state companies are doing business in California solely by virtue of their passive, minority investment in pass-throughs that conduct business in California. The state has lost the issue twice in the last two years. Most recently in September 2018 before an administrative appellate body in a nonprecedential decision involving a 25% passive ownership interest and the other in 2017 at the California Court of Appeal in a published decision involving a 0.2% passive ownership interest.

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