On January 16, Governor Cuomo introduced the 2018 New York State Executive Budget Legislation. The bill proposes a number of changes to the New York State sales tax law. Below is a summary of the highlights.
Sales and Use Tax
The governor’s bill proposes to impose sales tax registration and collection requirements, traditionally imposed on vendors, on “marketplace providers.” This provision is essentially an effort to obtain sales tax on sales to New York customers that make purchases over the internet from companies that have no physical presence in New York and do not collect sales tax in New York when those companies make sales through online marketplaces. In the governor’s Memorandum of Support of this bill, he affirmatively states that “the bill does not expand the rules concerning sales tax nexus”. Although, as noted below, this claim may not be true.
The bill effectively shifts the sales tax collection burden from the traditional vendor to the marketplace provider. The bill defines marketplace provider as “a person who, pursuant to an agreement with a marketplace seller, facilitates sales of tangible personal property by such marketplace seller or sellers.”
A person “facilitates a sale of tangible personal property” if the person meets both of the following conditions:
(i) such person provides the forum by which the sale takes place, including a shop, store, or booth, an internet website, a catalog, or a similar forum; and
(ii) such person or an affiliate of such person collects the receipts paid by a customer to a marketplace seller for a sale of tangible personal property.
The bill caveats that “a person who facilitates sales exclusively by means of the internet is not a marketplace provider for a sales tax quarter when such person can show that it has facilitated less than one hundred million dollars of sales annually for every calendar year after .”
Unlike the definition of the term “vendor” in the current Tax Law, the definition of “marketplace provider” does not contain a doing business or physical presence component. Accordingly, despite the governor’s assertion that the bill does not expand the rules concerning sales tax nexus, this provision may expand the sales tax nexus rules by potentially imposing a sales tax collection obligation on marketplace providers that do not have a physical presence in New York.
In an effort to minimize the number of entities with a collection requirement, the bill provides that if a marketplace seller obtains a certificate of collection from the marketplace provider, it is not required to collect sales tax as a vendor. The bill caveats that if the marketplace provider and the marketplace seller are affiliated parties, and the marketplace provider fails to collect the tax, the marketplace seller will remain liable for the sales tax. For such purposes, parties are affiliated if they have as little as five percent of common ownership.
The proposed legislation would not permit marketplace sellers that sell to customers in New York through a [...]