Articles Posted in Nexus

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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 Most recently in September 2018 before an administrative appellate body in a nonprecedential decision involving a 25% passive ownership interest and the other in 2017 at the California Court of Appeal in a published decision involving a 0.2% passive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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TAKEAWAYS

The Supreme Court in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. overruled the “physical presence” requirement as “unsound and incorrect” and ruled that “substantial nexus” is satisfied when an out-of-state seller has sufficient “economic and virtual contacts” with the state. The prior Supreme Court precedent in National Bellas Hess, Inc. v. Department of Revenue of Illinois and Quill Corp. v. North Dakota required out-of-state sellers to collect and remit sales/use tax on retail sales of certain tangible personal property and services only if the seller had “physical presence” with the state.

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Assembly Bill 2412 (Migden and Aroner), now pending in the California Legislature, would drastically expand the California rules for nexus to tax under the California Sales and Use Tax Law. The bill should be of high interest to Internet retailers who do not have a physical presence in California. A.B. 2412 would expand California law to provide that a retailer has nexus with California based solely on the relationship between the out-of-state retailer and another retailer who does have nexus with California.

(The remainder of this article can be accessed in the July/August 2000 edition of Cyberspace Lawyer.)