H.R. 2315
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BREAKING NEWS: House Passes Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act

Moments ago, the United States House of Representatives (House) passed the Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act of 2015 (H.R. 2315) Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act of 2015 (H.R. 2315) by voice vote. The Act will now be delivered to the United States Senate (Senate) for introduction and referral to committee for consideration. While the Senate Committee on Finance has not advanced a companion bill (S. 386) introduced by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in February 2015, the bill currently touts 45 co-sponsors.

Background

The Mobile Workforce Act that passed today was introduced in May 2015 by Representatives Mike Bishop (R-MI) and Hank Johnson (D-GA). As highlighted in our prior coverage, the bill advanced out of the House Judiciary Committee in June 2015 by a vote 23-4. This legislation has been introduced in the House by each Congress since it was first introduced in 2006 by the 109th. While the legislation has seen some degree of success in the House, it has yet to advance beyond the Senate Committee on Finance. Notably, in May 2012, a prior version of the Act was passed in the House, but the Senate Committee on Finance did not take it up for consideration.

The Mobile Workforce Act

While the Mobile Workforce Act has been tweaked over the years, its underlying objective has largely remained the same—to providing a workable, national framework for the administration of, and compliance with, the states’ incongruent withholding and nonresident income tax payment laws. The version of the Act passed by the House today establishes a thirty-day safe harbor for traveling employees from nonresident state personal income taxes, and greatly reduces and simplifies the withholding and reporting burdens and related costs to their employers. Specifically, an employee working in a nonresident state for thirty or fewer days would not pay personal income tax to the nonresident state. Instead, the employee would remain fully taxable in its resident state on these earnings.

Under the Act, employers would not be required to withhold taxes in the nonresident state for employees whose travel falls at or below the thirty-day threshold in the state. In making this determination, the Act allows employers to rely on an employee’s annual determination of the time they will spend working in a state, absent fraud or collusion by the employee. The definition of “employee” has the same meaning given to it by the state in which the employment duties are performed, subject to only a few exceptions (including professional athletes, professional entertainers, and public figures who are persons of prominence who perform services for wages or other remuneration on a per-event basis).

As passed today, the “Act shall take effect on January 1 of the [second] year that begins after the date of the enactment of this Act” and retroactive application is expressly prohibited. Practically speaking, this means that the absolute earliest the Act could take effect is January 1, 2018 (assuming the Senate [...]

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House Judiciary Committee Approves Three State Tax Bills

Yesterday, on June 17, 2015, three state tax bills were favorably reported to the United States House of Representatives (House) by the House Judiciary Committee (House Judiciary) after considering each during a half-day markup. The bills that were advanced included: (1) the Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act (Mobile Workforce, H.R. 2315); (2) the Digital Goods and Services Tax Fairness Act (DGSTFA, H.R. 1643); and (3) the Business Activity Tax Simplification Act (BATSA, H.R. 2584).

Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act

The Mobile Workforce bill was the first considered and seeks to establish a clear, uniform framework for when states may tax non-resident employees that travel for work. As advanced, the bill generally allows states to impose income tax compliance burdens on non-resident individuals only when the non-resident works in a state other than their state of residence for more than 30 days in a year. The bill also prevents those states from imposing a withholding requirement on employers for wages paid to such employees. Three proposed amendments seeking to limit the adverse revenue impact to New York were discussed and rejected. The Mobile Workforce bill was then favorably reported to the House by a vote of 23-4.

Digital Goods and Services Tax Fairness Act

DGSTFA would implement a uniform sourcing framework for states and localities seeking to tax digital goods and services. In doing so, the bill prevents any state or locality from imposing multiple or discriminatory taxes. Of the three pieces of legislation considered yesterday, only the DGSTFA was amended. The amendment, offered by the bill’s lead sponsor Representative Lamar Smith, was technical in nature and did not change the basic protections the bill would provide. At the markup, Chairman Goodlatte noted that the National Governors Association (NGA), which had previously voiced objections, was no longer opposed to the legislation after the revisions—though the NGA testimony indicated that the organization could not support the legislation without addressing the remote seller sales tax nexus issue.

The first technical changes in the adopted amendment were to the definitions of delivered or transferred electronically and provided electronically. The amendment added the term digital good and digital service after each respective term of art to clarify that digital goods are delivered or transferred electronically, whereas digital services are provided electronically. The second technical change was to the definition of digital good. In modifying the term, the amendment clarifies that streaming and other similar digital transmissions that do not “result in the delivery to the customer of a complete copy of such software or other good, with the right to use permanently or for a specified period” are not digital goods and would instead fall under the definition of a digital service.

Business Activity Tax Simplification Act

BATSA would codify the prerequisite of physical presence for a state to impose a direct tax on a non-resident business. BATSA would modernize the existing federal protection against state income taxation offered under P.L. 86-272 to include solicitation for sales of intangible property and services [...]

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