Remote Transactions Parity Act
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Nexus is Crucial, Complex Connection for State Tax Professionals

With multiple state lawsuits, competing federal legislation, many state bills, and several rulings and regulations, the physical presence rule remains an important and contentious issue.  In this article for the TEI magazine, Mark Yopp takes a practical approach for practitioners to deal with the ever-evolving landscape.

Read the full article.

Reprinted with permission. Originally published in TEI Magazine, ©2017.




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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Remote Transactions Parity Act Introduced in the U.S. House

Today, Representative Jason Chaffetz introduced H.R. 2775, the Remote Transactions Parity Act of 2015 (RTPA), in the United States House of Representatives (House).

The RTPA addresses the Internet sales tax issue using the structure of the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA), which passed the Senate in 2013 and was re-introduced earlier this year. Although the RTPA retains many of the features of the MFA, it adds protections for remote sellers and certified software providers.

MFA Authorization Framework Retained

Like the MFA, the RTPA creates two paths for states to impose sales and use taxes on remote sellers. Through the first path, states that are members of the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSUTA) are authorized to impose sales and use tax collection requirements on remote sellers. Under the second path, a state that is not a member state under the SSTUA would also be authorized to collect and remit sales and use taxes on remote transactions if it implements certain simplification requirements and protections for remote sellers and certified software providers. Many of these are carried over from the MFA, notably: (1) destination sourcing for interstate transactions; (2) a single entity for administration of sales and use tax; (3) a single audit of remote sellers per state; (4) a single return per state; (5) uniform tax base for all state and local sales taxes within the state; and (6) relief for errors, including remote sellers being relieved of errors made by a certified software provider or the state itself, and certified software providers being relieved of errors made by a remote seller or the state itself. Like the MFA, the RTPA would be effective one year from enactment, but not during the period from October through December in the year following enactment.

Changes

The RTPA contains several notable differences from the MFA, discussed below.

Small Seller Exception

Under the MFA, there is a fixed exception for small sellers and states are not authorized to impose a sales and use tax on small sellers, defined as remote sellers making sales of $1 million or less.

Under the RTPA, the small seller exception starts off larger, and subsequently phased out. In the first year, the exception applies for sellers making sales of $10 million or less. In the second and third year, the threshold is $5 million and $1 million, respectively. The exception goes away in the fourth year. Furthermore, under the RTPA sellers utilizing an electronic marketplace are not considered small sellers and are not entitled to the exception, no matter the year.

Protections to Sellers and Certified Software Providers

The RTPA provides additional protections for remote sellers and certified software providers.  The RTPA contains a mechanism to make sure that a state is not authorized to impose a sales and use tax collection requirement on remote sellers until it has certified multiple software providers, and those providers are certified in all other states seeking to impose authorization requirements. This is to ensure that a remote seller can [...]

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