On June 4, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law the state’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget implementation bill, Public Act 100-0587 (the Act). The Act makes a significant change to the Illinois sales/use tax nexus standard by adopting an “economic nexus” standard for a sales/use tax collection obligation. The economic nexus language was added to the budget bill one day before it was passed by the General Assembly. The standard is contrary to the physical presence nexus standard established by the United States Supreme Court in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, 504 US 298 (1992), the validity of which is currently pending before the Court in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Docket 17-494. The Court is expected to rule on Wayfair by the end of this month (see here for our prior coverage of the Wayfair case).

The Act amends Section 2 of the Use Tax Act to impose a tax collection and remission obligation on an out-of-state retailer making sales of tangible personal property to Illinois customers if the retailer’s gross receipts from sales to Illinois customers are at least $100,000 or the retailer has at least 200 separate sales transactions with Illinois customers. Similarly, it would amend Section 2 of the Service Use Tax Act with respect to out-of-state sellers making sales of services to Illinois customers. These changes mirror the economic nexus standard adopted by South Dakota. See SD Codified Laws § 10-64-2.

In the wake of Wayfair, other states have adopted similar nexus provisions. See, e.g., Conn. SB 417, Ga. HB 61, Haw. HB 2514, Iowa SF 2417, provisions enacted in 2018. By enacting the statute without an escape clause, Illinois, like other states, has put a law on the books that directly conflicts with Quill, and which will be ripe for constitutional challenge if the US Supreme Court affirms the South Dakota Supreme Court’s ruling that the South Dakota statute is unconstitutional.

The Act also amended Section 223 of the Illinois Income Tax Act to extend the tax credit for for-profit hospitals (equal to the lesser of property taxes paid or the cost of charity care provided) to tax years ending on or before December 31, 2022.

The Act made no changes in response to the federal tax reform bill. In particular the General Assembly did not enact Senate Bill 3152 (proposing to add-back the new federal deduction for foreign-derived intangible income (FDII); see here for our prior coverage). The General Assembly also did not enact either of the pending bills (HB 4237 and 4563) proposing to work around the federal $10,000 limitation on the deductibility of state and local taxes by establishing funds/foundations to which taxpayers could make contributions in exchange for tax credits.

On May 24, 2018, the Circuit Court of Cook County granted the City of Chicago’s Motion for Summary Judgment in the case captioned Labell v. City of Chicago, No. 15 CH 13399 (Ruling), affirming the City’s imposition of its amusement tax on internet-based streaming services.

City’s Amusement Tax and Amusement Tax Ruling #5

The City imposes a 9 percent tax on “admission fees or other charges paid for the privilege to enter, to witness, to view or to participate in such amusement. …” Mun. Code of Chi., tit. 4, ch. 4-156 (Code), § 4-156-020(A); see also id. § 4-156-010 (defining “amusement” in part as a performance or show for entertainment purposes, an entertainment or recreational activity offered for public participation and paid television programming). On June 9, 2015, the City Department of Finance (Department) issued Amusement Tax Ruling #5, taking the position that the amusement tax is imposed “not only [on] charges paid for the privilege to witness, view or participate in amusements in person but also [on] charges paid for the privilege to witness, view or participate in amusements that are delivered electronically [emphasis in original].” Amusement Tax Ruling #5, ¶ 8.

The Ruling sought to impose an amusement tax on subscription fees or per-event fees for the privilege of: (1) watching electronically delivered television, shows, movies or videos; (2) listening to electronically delivered music; and (3) participating in online games, provided the streamed content (i.e., movies, music, etc.) was delivered to a customer in the City. See id. ¶¶ 8, 10. The Ruling stated that “this means that the amusement tax will apply to customers whose residential street address or primary business street address is in Chicago, as reflected by their credit card billing address, zip code or other reliable information.” Id. ¶ 13. A copy of the City’s Amusement Tax Ruling #5 is linked here. Continue Reading Circuit Court of Cook County Upholds City of Chicago’s Imposition of Amusement Tax on Internet-Based Streaming Services

Top Hits You May Have Missed

New Mexico Administrative Hearings Office Issues Timely Opinion Regarding State Taxation of Subpart F Income and Dividends from Foreign Affiliates

Oregon Bars Use of Three Factor Apportionment Formula

McDermott Defeats New York False Claims Act Case Alleging Starbucks Failed to Collect and Remit Sales Tax

Looking Forward to June

June 1, 2018: Stephen Kranz presented “Diverse Routes to Resolving SALT Audit Issues” at the Georgetown Law Advanced State and Local Tax Institute in Washington, DC.  Stephen discussed numerous complex audit issues facing tax administrators and taxpayers alike, including avenues for equitable resolution of complex audit issues and evaluation of when litigation is the best means of resolution.

June 5, 2018: Alysse McLoughlin is presenting “Partnership Audit Regulations: The Great Unknown” at the Federation of Tax Administrators Annual Meeting in Nashville, TN.

June 21, 2018: Britt Haxton, Kristen Hazel, Enrica Ma, Jane May, Sandra McGill, Alysse McLoughlin, Maureen O’Brien and Diann Smith are presenting at Tax in the City® New York about the various impacts of tax reform on state and local taxes, digital commerce, cross-border transactions, and compensation structures and fringe benefits. There will also be a CLE/CPE session on the ethical considerations around tax reform. Email Maria Dubinets at mdubinets@mwe.com to register.

June 25, 2018: Alysse McLoughlin is presenting “State Implications of the Federal Partnership Rules” at the Institute for Professionals in Taxation (IPT) Annual Conference in Vancouver, BC.

June 26, 2018: Stephen Kranz is presenting “Taxability of Digital Goods and Services” at the Institute for Professionals in Taxation (IPT) Annual Conference in Vancouver, BC. Stephen will present an overview of US digital taxation, the characterization of tangible personal property, related legislative and administrative developments, and an update on recent litigation in digital tax. He will also provide an overview of best practices, including minimizing sales and use tax on software related transactions as well as audit tips.

June 27, 2018: Jane May is presenting “State Payroll Audits” at the Institute for Professionals in Taxation (IPT) Annual Conference in Vancouver, BC.

June 28, 2018: Stephen Kranz is speaking at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Executive Committee Task Force on State and Local Taxation, Lake Tahoe NV, regarding federal tax reform and next steps on the remote sales tax. He will also present an overview of the South Dakota v. Wayfair Supreme Court oral arguments and upcoming decision.

On April 9, 2018, the New York State Supreme Court granted Starbucks’ motion to dismiss claims that it had failed to collect more than $10 million of sales tax at its New York stores. Lawyers from McDermott’s State and Local Tax (SALT) group and its White Collar and Securities Defense team handled the matter.

A unique feature of New York law is that the attorney general and private qui tam plaintiffs are permitted to bring New York False Claims Act (NYFCA) actions under New York Financial Law for “claims, records, or statements made under the tax law.” Fin. L. 198(4)(a)(i)-(iii). Under federal law and the law of most states, there is no False Claims Act liability for tax issues. But in New York, the attorney general and private plaintiffs can pursue False Claims Act cases for failure to comply with tax law. There have been numerous large settlements and judgments issued against major companies under the NYFCA, including one settlement for $40 million. See A.G. Schneiderman Announces $40 Million Settlement With Investment Management Company for Tax Abuses, Marking Largest Whistleblower Recovery in Office’s History (April 18, 2017). If successful, qui tam plaintiffs can recover a 25 – 30 percent share of the amount recovered, together with costs and attorneys’ fees. Fin. L. § 190(6)(b).

In this case, two private relator plaintiffs alleged that Starbucks failed to collect sales tax on warmed and “to-go” food items over a 10-year period. The relators filed a complaint, under seal, on or about June 11, 2015, with the New York Attorney General (AG). The AG declined to intervene. On June 30, 2017, the relators elected to proceed on their own with the lawsuit and filed a complaint seeking a judgment for at least $10 million in allegedly unpaid sales tax, as well as treble damages, civil penalties and attorneys’ fees. There was no allegation that Starbucks had failed to properly pay New York taxes that it had previously collected and was holding improperly. The relators’ allegations were solely based on their claim that Starbucks had under-collected sales tax from its New York customers.

On behalf of Starbucks, McDermott filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that Starbucks properly collects and pays its taxes to the State of New York and that Starbucks has consistently worked cooperatively with auditors from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. McDermott further argued that the relators “survey” of purchases at Starbucks locations and anecdotal conversations with Starbucks employees failed to properly allege that Starbucks violated the tax law or engaged in any fraud.

On November 10, 2017, the court held oral argument. On April 9, 2018, the Honorable James d’Auguste agreed with McDermott’s arguments and dismissed the case. See State of New York ex rel. James A. Hunter & Keenan D. Kmiec v. Starbucks Corporation, No. 101069/15, Dkt No. 40 (Sup Ct. April 9, 2018). The court held that the relators failed to properly allege that Starbucks had knowingly avoided or recklessly disregarded the law. Id. at 15. The court also opined that “the Survey was not scientifically performed and plaintiffs’ Survey was unsupported by any expert review or report.” Id. at 17. Finally, the court concluded that “plaintiffs’ allegations that Starbucks’ illegal practices were ongoing for a decade before this action was started and that it suffered $10 million in damages are based purely on speculation.” Id. at 17.

McDermott’s SALT and White Collar and Securities Defense teams joined forces in representing Starbucks in connection with this matter. The team consisted of Todd Harrison, Steve Kranz, Mark Yopp, Joseph B. Evans, Kathleen Quinn and Samuel Ashworth.

Full Case Name:          State of New York ex rel. James A. Hunter & Keenan D. Kmiec v. Starbucks Corporation, No. 101069/15 (Sup Ct. April 9, 2018)

Court:                           New York State Supreme Court

Justice:                         James E. d’Auguste

Opposing Counsel:     Hunter and Kmiec

A Grain of SALT: May State Focus – Georgia

Georgia was one of the first states to enact comprehensive legislation in response to the federal tax reform bill, known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).  As a preliminary matter, the Georgia bill provides conformity to the IRC as of February 9, 2018, with certain exceptions.  Before the bill’s enactment, the Georgia Code had conformed to the IRC as of January 1, 2017, and, in turn, did not conform to the TCJA.

The new legislation contains numerous exceptions to Georgia’s conformity with the current IRC. For example, the tax bill explicitly provides that Georgia will decouple from the new interest expense limitations in IRC § 163(j) and also from the new provisions in IRC § 118 that provide inclusion in gross income of certain capital contributions.

With respect to the international provisions of the TCJA, Georgia’s dividend-received deduction for dividends received from foreign corporations seems to  apply to the global intangible low taxed income (GILTI), included in the federal tax base under IRC § 951A, and to the deemed repatriated foreign earnings, included in the federal tax base under IRC § 965(a). The legislation provides that the deductions in IRC § 250 for a portion of the GILTI and in IRC § 965(c) for a portion of the deemed repatriated foreign earnings will be disallowed to the extent such income is excluded from the Georgia tax base pursuant to the dividend received deduction.

Finally, the Georgia bill provides that the new federal net operating loss (NOL) provisions (including the restriction that the NOL cannot exceed 80 percent of taxable income and the new federal carryback and carryforward provisions) apply for purposes of computing the Georgia net operating loss deduction with the specification that the 80 percent limitation is computed based on Georgia taxable net income (not federal taxable income).

Top Hits You May Have Missed

More States Respond to Federal Tax Reform

Overview of Minnesota’s Response to Federal Tax Reform

Update on State Responses to Federal Tax Reform: Illinois and Oregon

Looking Forward to May

May 2, 2018: Stephen Kranz is presenting “Wayfair Oral Argument Summary and Status Update” at the Streamlines Sales Tax Governing Board (SSTGB) Spring 2018 Meeting in Jackson Hole WY. On April 17, 2018, Supreme Court justices listened to both sides of the case of South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. as South Dakota argued to repeal a 1992 decision from the case Quill v. North Dakota which ruled that companies only had to collect sales tax in states where they are physically located. South Dakota argued that the state, along with many other states, had been robbed of billions of dollars as a result of the decision. He will discuss how this case, which the Supreme Court is expected to decide in June, is very important. 

May 3, 2018: Peter Faber and Alysse McLoughlin will be speaking at The Business Council’s 2018 Annual Conference on State Taxation on the topic “New York State Budget / Legislative Review and Comment / Federal “Conformity” & Mitigation” in New York, NY.

May 3, 2018: Scott Susko is presenting “Ethics for Tax Professionals” at The Business Council’s 2018 Annual Conference on State Taxation in New York, NY.

May 11, 2018:  Stephen Kranz is presenting “Handling Tax Controversy to Win” and “The Digital Tax Tsunami:  What You Need to Know to Help Your Clients” at Avalara’s CRUSH DC 2018 in Washington DC.  Mr. Kranz will discuss an approach to solving tax problems holistically, understanding the offensive and defensive tools available and the avenues for relief when interacting with the government, planning and building the team to effectively work all avenues the government offers, tools available including FOIA, policy solutions, and litigation. He will overview new technology models and the evolution to cloud-based products, demystify the division of ownership of cloud service, as well as characterize digital goods products, delivery, and the contractual language of a purchase.

May 15, 2018: Madeline Chiampou, Peter Faber, Britt Haxton, Steve Kranz, John Lutz, Alysse McLoughlin, Alan Schwartz, Diann Smith, and Mark Yopp are presenting at TEI’s Tax Reform Seminar titled “The State of Federal Tax Reform:  A Federal and State Corporate Tax Perspective” in the McDermott New York office. Click here to register.

May 15, 2018: Mary Kay Martire is presenting about Illinois residency issues (“Fleeing Illinois: State Income and Estate Tax Overview for Individuals and Fiduciaries”) at the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education’s 61st Annual Estate Planning Seminar in Champaign, IL.

May 15, 2018: Lauren Ferrante is moderating the Chicago Bar Association State and Local Tax Committee’s Spring Seminar, scheduled for May 15 from 12:00 p.m. – 2:10 p.m. CST and held at the CBA’s headquarters in downtown Chicago. The seminar consists of two panels: (1) “U.S. Supreme Court’s consideration of the Wayfair case and its impact on the SALT world”; and (2) “Recent Changes in Illinois Tax Law.”

May 24, 2018: Mary Kay Martire and Tim Halleron are presenting about Illinois residency issues (“Fleeing Illinois: State Income and Estate Tax Overview for Individuals and Fiduciaries”) at the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education’s 61st Annual Estate Planning Seminar in Chicago, IL.

May 30, 2018: Alysse McLoughlin is presenting “The Amazon Effect on Public Finance – What is the Optimal Tax Structure in the Internet Age?” at the National Federation of Municipal Analysts 35th Annual Conference in Coronado, CA.

Earlier this month, the New Mexico Administrative Hearings Office issued an opinion that addressed the questions on the minds of many state tax professionals in the wake of federal tax reform: under what circumstances can a state constitutionally impose tax on a domestic company’s income from foreign subsidiaries, including Subpart F income, and when is factor representation required? These issues have recently received renewed attention in the state tax world due to the new federal laws providing additions to income for foreign earnings deemed repatriated under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 965 and for global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI). Since many state income taxes are based on federal taxable income, inclusion of these new categories of income at the federal level can potentially result in inclusion of this same income at the state level, triggering significant constitutional issues.

In Matter of General Electric Company & Subsidiaries, a New Mexico Hearing Officer determined that the inclusion of dividends and Subpart F income from foreign subsidiaries in General Electric’s state tax base did not violate the Foreign Commerce Clause, even though dividends from domestic affiliates were excluded from the state tax base, because General Electric filed on a consolidated group basis with its domestic affiliates. Continue Reading New Mexico Administrative Hearings Office Issues Timely Opinion Regarding State Taxation of Subpart F Income and Dividends from Foreign Affiliates

In Health Net Inc. v. Dep’t of Revenue, Docket No. S063625 (Apr. 12, 2018), the Oregon Supreme Court rejected a business taxpayer’s constitutional challenges to a 1993 Oregon statute that eliminated the right to utilize a three-factor apportionment formula in calculating Oregon income tax. The Oregon Supreme Court joined courts in Texas, Minnesota, California and Michigan in rejecting taxpayer arguments that states which have enacted Article IV of the Multistate Tax Compact, thereby incorporating the UDITPA three-factor (payroll, property and sales) formula, have entered into a binding contractual obligation which may not be overridden.

Oregon enacted UDITPA in 1965 (ORS 314.605 – 314.675) and the Multistate Tax Compact (including Article IV) (ORS 305.655), in 1967. In 1993, however, following a series of amendments to the apportionment formula in Oregon’s version of UDITPA, which moved the state to a single sales factor formula, the Oregon legislature eliminated taxpayers’ ability to elect the three factor apportionment formula incorporated via ORS 305.655.

In Health Net, the taxpayer argued that when Oregon enacted the MTC in 1967, it had entered into a binding contract with other states that was violated by the state’s 1993 elimination of the three factor apportionment formula, in violation of the Contract Clause of the state and US constitutions. In Oregon, a statute is considered “a contractual promise only if the legislature has clearly and unmistakably expressed its intent to create a contract.”  The Oregon Supreme Court determined that the text, context, and legislative history of ORS 305.655 did not “clearly and unmistakably” establish that the Oregon legislature intended to execute a binding contract with other states. The court found ORS 305.655 to have only created statutory obligations—according to the majority, it was a uniform law, not a compact—and, thus, there was no Contract Clause violation.

Continue Reading Oregon Bars Use of Three Factor Apportionment Formula

A Grain of SALT: April State Focus – South Dakota

On April 17, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral argument in South Dakota’s case challenging the Court’s physical presence requirement for sales tax nexus. South Dakota v. Wayfair, Docket 17-494.

50 years ago, in National Bellas Hess v. Department of Revenue, 386 U.S. 753 (1967), the Supreme Court held that the Due Process and Commerce Clauses of the United States Constitution barred states from requiring remote retailers with no physical presence in a State to collect and remit sales tax. In 1992, the Court affirmed its prior ruling under the Commerce Clause. Quill v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298 (1992).

Quill has been at the center of state tax nexus controversy since the time of its issuance, as states have worked to restrict, and taxpayers have worked to expand the scope of the ruling. States and taxpayers have been continually tied up in disputes regarding the meaning of “physical presence” sufficient to trigger nexus. Concerned about the rapid growth of digital commerce, states have advanced increasingly aggressive theories of “physical presence” in an attempt to stem the loss of sales tax revenues from internet sales. Taxpayers, on the other hand, repeatedly have sought to apply the physical presence nexus standard to other types of taxes, principally income tax. Until South Dakota v. Wayfair, the Supreme Court declined to accept review of any case seeking further guidance with respect to the physical presence nexus standard. Continue Reading Finishing SALT: April State Focus & March Wrap-Up

McDermott hosted the first Tax in the City® meeting of 2018 in its Chicago office on March 15, 2018. Tax in the City® is a discussion and networking group for women in tax aimed at fostering collaboration and mentorship, and facilitating in-person connections and roundtable events around the country.

The Chicago program was one of the best attended Tax in the City® events to date, featuring a CLE/CPE presentation about the State Tax Impacts of Tax Reform by Cate Battin, Alysse McLoughlin and Diann Smith, followed by a discussion of Employee Benefits Impacts of Tax Reform by Diane Morgenthaler. The roundtable portion of the event covered federal tax reform issues, such as effects on partnerships, the GILTI tax, the BEAT tax, followed by an update on South Dakota v. Wayfair, a United States Supreme Court case reexamining the physical presence requirements for state sales tax collection nexus.

Key State & Local Tax Takeaways from Tax in the City® Chicago

  1. Without legislation at the state level, any tax payment impact from the federal repatriation transition provisions will all be concentrated in one year for state tax purposes, as opposed to the federal level where the impact will be spread over eight years.
  1. A company may have a GILTI issue at the state level, even if not at the federal level, because the states don’t take foreign tax credits into account.
  1.  Conforming to GILTI may create unconstitutional discrimination against foreign commerce.
  1.  States and taxpayers need to consider upon which federal return lines the new provisions will appear and how special statements, such as the repatriation statement, will map to state calculations the return and what schedules are used.

The next Tax in the City® meeting will take place in Seattle, WA on May 22. Please reach out to Mia Dubinets at mdubinets@mwe.com if you’d like to be added to the Seattle Tax in the City® mailing list, and receive invitations for the May event.

We invite all tax professionals who identify as female to join Tax in the City® official LinkedIn group to continue the conversation and share tax developments in between events and meetings! Click here to join.

Minnesota has several bills pending that would address the Minnesota state tax implications of various provisions of the federal tax reform legislation (commonly referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act).

HF 2942

HF 2942 was introduced in the House on February 22, 2018. This bill would provide conformity to the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) as of December 31, 2017, including for corporate taxpayers. The bill makes clear that, with respect to the computation of Minnesota net income, the conformity to the Internal Revenue Code as amended through December 31, 2017, would be effective retroactively such that the federal provisions providing for the deemed repatriation of foreign earnings could have implications in Minnesota. Continue Reading Overview of Minnesota’s Response to Federal Tax Reform