In a letter ruling published March 16, 2020, the Tennessee Department of Revenue concluded that a contractor’s purchase of materials and equipment for use in the construction and installation of a new steam production facility at a federally owned manufacturing plant was exempt from Tennessee sales and use tax. Tenn. Letter Rul. No. 20-02 (issued Feb. 10, 2020).
There have been two interesting developments in Arizona as a result of Wayfair. First, the Arizona House of Representatives pushed forward a resolution, H.C.M. 2006, last week to formally ask Congress to enact uniform national legislation to simplify sales tax or similar tax collection by all states and to reduce the burden of tax compliance on remote sellers. In addition, the Arizona Senate pushed forward S.C.M. 1003, requesting Congress to do the same, on February 13. Each bill needs to be sent to the other chamber for final passage. If either bill is passed, the measure would be transmitted to the federal government. Arizona would be the first state requesting federal intervention to ensure sales tax compliance simplicity in all states by passing state legislation.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that sales tax applied to subscription fees for three online Citrix products, “GoToMyPC,” “GoToAssist” and “GoToMeeting,” which allow users to remotely access other users’ computers. Citrix Systems, Inc. v. Comm’r of Revenue, No. SJC-12741 (Mass. Feb. 5, 2020). In so holding, the Court affirmed the Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board’s determination that Citrix made taxable sales of tangible personal property, rather than nontaxable sales of services.
On January 29, 2020, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued a 4-3 decision in Normand v. Wal-Mart.com USA, reversing in full two lower courts and holding Walmart.com was not required to collect local sales tax on third-party sales facilitated through its online marketplace. The majority concluded Walmart.com was not a “dealer” under Louisiana law for purposes of such sales and the company’s contracts with third-party marketplace retailers did not transfer the third-party retailers’ sales tax obligation to Walmart.com.
The Washington Court of Appeals held that Gartner, Inc.’s online research service was a digital automated service subject to the state’s retail sales tax and retailing Business and Occupation (B&O) Tax. Gartner, Inc. v. Washington Department of Revenue, No. 51637-3-II (Wash. App. Div. 2 Jan. 13, 2020). This decision addressed the scope of Washington’s “human effort” exclusion from the retail sales tax, the applicability of the “bundled transaction” and “true object” tests to offerings that contain taxable and nontaxable components, and the Internet Tax Freedom Act.
The Oregon Department of Revenue (DOR) has just released a series of eight draft administrative rules for Oregon’s new Corporate Activity Tax (CAT) that go into effect on January 1, 2020. In “The CAT is Almost Out of the Bag! Oregon Releases First Set of Draft CAT Rules,” SALT team members Carley Roberts, Robert P. Merten III and Afshin Michael Khazaeli examine the rules themselves, what this may mean for companies calculating commercial activity, and more.
Pillsbury SALT was proud to present TEI/IPT Silicon Valley’s State and Local Tax Day & IPT Joint Meeting on December 5! The team presented a 3/4-day seminar that focused on topics related to the State and Local Tax implications of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Wayfair, and other hot topics in state and local taxation.
The Multistate Tax Commission (MTC) is updating its Public Law 86-272 guidance, “Statement of Information Concerning Practices of Multistate Tax Commission and Signatory States under Public Law 86-272,” to address internet activities. This guidance was last updated in 2001. The latest draft guidance, dated October 15, 2019, provides examples of when the use of an “interactive” website will defeat P.L. 86-272 immunity, even if the company has no other contact with the customer’s state. Such examples include:
- providing post-sale assistance to customers via either electronic chat or email accessed through a website link;
- soliciting and receiving online applications for branded credit cards;
- inviting viewers to apply for employment;
- contracting with a marketplace facilitator, whose marketplace offers for sale the company’s products via a website and maintains the company’s inventory;
- inserting internet “cookies” into the computers or other electronic devices of customers; or
- remotely fixing products via the internet and WiFi.
Having one of the listed internet activities—by itself—would cause a company that has limited its in-state activities to solicitation of sales to lose its P.L. 86-272 immunity according to the draft guidance. In effect, the MTC’s draft guidance would eviscerate P.L. 86-272 protection given today’s digital economy.
The October 15, 2019, draft “Statement of Information Concerning Practices of Multistate Tax Commission and Signatory States under Public Law 86-272” can be accessed here. More information can be found on the MTC’s web page.
New York State increased the sales tax economic factor presence nexus threshold from $300,000 to $500,000. The change is retroactive to June 1, 2019. Accordingly, marketplace providers with no physical presence in the state are required to register and collect New York sales tax if the provider’s gross receipts from sales of tangible personal property in New York is equal to or exceeds $500,000 and facilitated more than 100 sales of tangible personal property delivered in the state. The sales are computed over the past four sales tax quarters. It’s not clear what prompted the state to increase the gross receipts threshold of the economic nexus standard—there are no other changes to the definition of marketplace provider, marketplace sellers or to any of the liability relief provisions. (For more information, access the recently issued marketplace provider guidance here, and the prior guidance here.)
There were two competing bills regarding tax sharing agreements (TSAs) this legislative session: SB 531 and SB 485. The former would have barred all TSAs at the local level as of January 1, 2020. The latter would not bar TSAs but instead would require the locality to report certain information pertaining to the agreement that would be made publicly available. On October 12, 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed the bill that would have barred TSAs altogether and instead signed the other bill that requires publicly reporting certain information pertaining to the TSAs.