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Batten Down the Hatches: Digital Tax Nor’easter Coming This Fall

Recently passed budget legislation in both Connecticut and Rhode Island included tax increases on sales of digital goods and services. The Connecticut bill has been signed into law. The Rhode Island bill passed late last night awaits executive action. Below are brief summaries of the impacts of these bills on the sales taxation of digital goods and services (assuming the Rhode Island governor signs the bill) beginning October 1, 2019. Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (D) signed the Connecticut budget bill (HB 7424) into law in early June. The bill contains language increasing the sales and use tax rate on most digital goods and services from the current 1% rate to the full 6.35% rate beginning October 1, 2019. See Sections 319-322 (starting on page 460 of the Public Act). Specifically, these provisions expand the definition of “tangible personal property” for sales and use tax purposes so they include: (1) “digital goods” and (2) “canned or prewritten software...

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Connecticut Responds to the Federal Repatriation Tax

Earlier this month, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy released his Governor’s Bill addressing the various state tax implications of the federal tax reform bill enacted by Congress in December 2017, commonly referred to as the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” Among other things, the Governor’s Bill addresses Connecticut’s treatment of the foreign earning deemed repatriation tax provisions of amended section 965 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). While the Governor’s Bill does not explicitly provide that the addition to federal income under IRC section 965 is an actual dividend for purposes of Connecticut’s dividend received deduction, the bill does protect Connecticut’s ability to tax at least part of the income brought into the federal tax base under the federal deemed repatriation tax provisions by defining nondeductible “expenses related to dividends” as 10 percent of the amount of the dividend. Currently, Connecticut provides a 100 percent dividend received...

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Connecticut Will Make You Disclose Personal Customer Data!

The Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS) recently issued demand letters to many remote sellers requiring that they either: (a) provide electronic sales records for all individual sales shipped to a Connecticut address over the past three calendar years; or (b) register to collect and remit Connecticut sales and use tax. This action is consistent with statements made by DRS Commissioner, Kevin Sullivan, via a press release in March and more recently at a Federation of Tax Administrator’s (FTA) presentation on the topic two weeks ago. Sullivan’s comments at the FTA meeting indicated that state tax administrators “will move from hoping Congress will help” to taking action into their own hands. For remote sellers with no physical presence in Connecticut that don’t wish to voluntarily collect and remit sales and use tax (consistent with the US Supreme Court’s precedent in Quill and Bellas Hess), they are given only one option–provide DRS with a...

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Connecticut Limits New Tax Haven Law

In June of 2015, Connecticut passed legislation that implements combined reporting for tax years beginning on, or after January 1, 2016. Part of the new regime, which is codified by Conn. Gen. Stat. P.A. 15-5, § 144 (2015), requires water’s-edge combined groups to include entities incorporated in tax havens in the combined group. Just before the holidays, the Connecticut General Assembly passed legislation that narrowed the definition of a “tax haven” from the originally adopted definition. Under the originally passed combined reporting law, the determination of whether a jurisdiction was a “tax haven” was made using five different definitions. If any one definition was satisfied, the jurisdiction was a “tax haven.” None of the five definitions is entirely clear and each generally required an analysis of facts related to the jurisdiction’s government rather than the activities of a taxpayer in the jurisdiction. The original definition of tax haven was...

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U.S. Supreme Court’s Wynne Decision Calls New York’s Statutory Resident Scheme into Question

On May 18, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Comptroller of the Treasury of Maryland v. Wynne. In short, the Court, in a five-to-four decision written by Justice Alito, handed the taxpayer a victory by holding that the county income tax portion of Maryland’s personal income tax scheme violated the dormant U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause. Specifically, the Court concluded that the county income tax imposed under Maryland law failed the internal consistency test under the dormant Commerce Clause, because it is imposed on both residents and non-residents with Maryland residents not getting a credit against that Maryland local tax for income taxes paid to other jurisdictions (residents are given a credit against the Maryland state income tax for taxes paid to other jurisdictions). The Supreme Court emphatically held (as emphatically as the Court can be in a five-to-four decision) that the dormant Commerce Clause’s internal consistency test applies...

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Connecticut Hires Chainbridge Software LLC for Transfer Pricing Training

On July 15, 2014, the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services awarded Chainbridge Software LLC a contract worth $50,000 for on-site and remotely supported training for transfer pricing audits.  Chainbridge is infamous for being the contract auditor hired by the District of Columbia Office of Tax and Revenue to manufacture transfer pricing-based assessments.  In 2012, the District of Columbia Office of Administrative Hearings denounced Chainbridge’s methodology in Microsoft Corp. v. Office of Tax and Revenue.  Numerous other cases are in litigation following D.C.’s refusal to abide by that decision. We have reviewed the Connecticut request for proposal drafted by the Department of Revenue Services.  While we do not yet have access to the final contract, it will likely be similar to the request for proposal.  The solicitation requests two to three days of training per week over the course of three months.  According to the RFP, Chainbridge will teach the...

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