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).
In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic relief federal and state authorities have provided to taxpayers in the form of delayed tax return filing and payment deadlines (see Pillsbury’s 3/21/20 Legal Alert co-authored by Carley and Mike, among others), San Francisco has also issued some relief in connection with its core local business taxes, including its Gross Receipts Tax, Payroll Expense Tax, Commercial Rents Tax and Homelessness Gross Receipts Tax, or collectively the “San Francisco Local Business Taxes.”
The California Office of Tax Appeals will hold an informal interested parties meeting on April 3, 2020, to discuss proposed amendments to its rules for tax appeals. The proposed amendments are in response to feedback from public and internal parties after the OTA began operating under its permanent rules for tax appeals since January 2019.
One of the proposed amendments addresses the process to request a closed hearing when a CPA firm represents its attest client. The proposed amendment states the OTA “a closed hearing shall generally be granted” when a taxpayer provides a statement from the CPA firm and the taxpayer, signed under penalty of perjury by both parties, affirming: (1) the taxpayer is a current attest client of the CPA firm; (2) the taxpayer wants to be represented by the CPA firm at the oral hearing before OTA; (3) the taxpayer would like a closed hearing; and (4) the CPA firm affirms that it cannot represent the client unless the oral hearing is closed. When a request for a closed hearing is granted, the reason for the closed hearing, along with the names of the taxpayer and the representatives, will be noted on the hearing agenda. The proposed amendments do not address whether the briefing, hearing transcript, or opinion related to a closed hearing under such circumstances will be available to the public.
SeeSALT attorneys Carley Roberts & Mike Le partnered with their Pillsbury tax colleagues Nora Burke & Hannah Hollingsworth to detail the impact of COVID-19 on the IRS and States Extended Tax Payment Deadlines.
Takeaways of the recent article include:
- The IRS announced that individuals and businesses may defer both federal income tax payments and filings due April 15 until July 15, without any cap on tax liability.
- California updated its tax extension to follow the IRS’s extension.
- Many other states are starting to align with the IRS’s extension or have announced other tax relief.
For the full article, please click here.
A very interesting and heartening decision was just handed down by the Michigan Court of Appeals in Vectren Infrastructure Services Corp. v. Department of Treasury in connection with a sale of an out-of-state business. Copy attached. In Vectren, the Court of Appeals held that the Department of Treasury’s (DOT) removal of the gain from the sale of the business from the denominator of the sales factor, while including the gain in the income base, violated the Due Process and Commerce Clauses. Notably, during the year in question, Michigan used a single sales factor apportionment formula. The decision underscores the potential unfair apportionment inherent in a single sales factor apportionment formula.
On March 6, 2020, the South Carolina Administrative Law Court entered an order in Colonial Pipeline Co. v. South Carolina Department of Revenue, No. 18-ALJ-17-0443-CC, in which it held that a pipeline company’s assets may qualify for a property tax exemption for pollution control equipment of industrial plants under S.C. Code Ann. § 12-37-220(8). In so holding, the ALC rejected the Department of Revenue’s contention that the exemption is available only to manufacturers (i.e., companies engaged in some form of production or that have some form of output). Even if the exemption required some form of production or output, the ALC said, the pipeline company’s process of separating “transmix”—the mixture that results when different petroleum products travel through a pipeline simultaneously—into salable products, adding drag-reducing agents to the product as it is transported, and removing water that accumulates in the transported product is a form of production, notwithstanding that it may be incidental to the company’s transportation business. The ALC concluded that some of the company’s assets, such as tank farms and other facilities and equipment, may fall within the meaning of “industrial plant,” while unattended pipeline that merely transports the product may not. The court ultimately denied the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment on the grounds that further inquiry into how much of the company’s property can be classified as an “industrial plant” was necessary.
The ALC’s determination that the pollution control equipment exemption is not strictly limited to manufacturers is important in that it may have implications for other industries in which companies do not engage in traditional forms of manufacturing, or engage in manufacturing as an incident to their primary businesses, but are nonetheless required to use pollution control equipment. Keep an eye on this case.
The New Mexico Court of Appeals decided a case illustrating the heavy risks of failing to comply with a court’s order. Specifically, the Court of Appeals upheld the District Court’s full dismissal of a taxpayer’s refund claim for violating a discovery order. In Bowman v. Manforte, the taxpayer sought a refund of Gross Receipts Tax arguing that her income was exempt as wage income rather than income from an independent business. The New Mexico Department of Revenue Services (“Department”) suspected the taxpayer’s federal tax return would reflect deductions against the income that would be permitted only if the income were business income and not wages for federal income tax purposes. The taxpayer refused to produce the federal tax return, claiming that the return was privileged from civil disclosure under New Mexico’s tax secrecy law. The Department brought the taxpayer’s refusal before the District Court and twice obtained orders requiring the taxpayer to produce the return. After the taxpayer failed to comply with the disclosure orders, the District Court took the dramatic step of dismissing the taxpayer’s refund claim altogether. The taxpayer appealed to the Court of Appeals. Continue Reading ›
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.
A Washington state trial judge partially granted the state’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the validity of a recently enacted Washington tax measure that increases the state’s Business & Occupation Tax (B&O Tax) on large, out-of-state financial institutions. The Plaintiffs, the Washington Bankers Association and American Bankers Association (collectively, the “Bankers Associations”) filed a challenge to invalidate House Bill 2167, which targets large out-of-state financial institutions by increasing Washington’s B&O Tax rate if the institution’s annual net income equals to or exceeds $1 billion. The Bankers Associations sought to invalidate the law, which became effective January 1, 2020, on the grounds that the measure violates: (1) the state’s constitutional requirement to introduce a bill at least 10 days prior to the adjournment of a legislative session; and (2) the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause because it discriminates against out-of-state financial institutions by imposing a higher tax rate on out-of-state financial institutions versus in-state institutions. The state moved to dismiss the complaint, focusing on the procedural issue under the state’s constitution rather than the apparent discriminatory nature of the law. Specifically, the state asserted that the “enrolled bill doctrine” enjoined the Washington trial court from reviewing evidence, other than the final enrolled bill itself, to show that a constitutional violation occurred during the enactment process.
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.