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Gross Receipts Taxes Face Policy and Legal Challenges

“Generally, the only places with gross receipts taxes today are U.S. states and developing countries.” –Professor Richard Pomp, University of Connecticut

As the economy shifts to a digital one, we are finding that states are turning toward unconventional revenue options. One trend we’re seeing is the surprising comeback of the gross receipts tax (GRT):

  • Oregon’s new Commercial Activity Tax (CAT) takes effect January 1, 2020. Oregon officials are currently writing rules to implement it. Portland, Oregon also adopted a 1% gross receipts tax, imposed only on big businesses, starting January 1, 2019.
  • San Francisco voters imposed an additional gross receipts tax on businesses with receipts of more than $50 million beginning January 1, 2019. This is on top of the gross receipts tax that was phased in from 2014 to 2018 to replace the city’s payroll tax.
  • Nevada’s Commerce Tax took effect July 1, 2015, imposing differing tax rates on 26 categories of business with over $4 million in receipts. Part of the revenue was to reduce the state’s MBT payroll tax, but legislators suspended those reductions this year; it’s now in court.
  • Serious proposals to adopt a statewide gross receipts tax keep coming, with the last three years including Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wyoming. A San Jose, California gross receipts tax proposal was approved to gather petition signatures in 2016 but eventually morphed into a business license tax overhaul.

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Inside the New York Budget Bill: Tax Rates and Qualified New York Manufacturers

The New York Legislature has passed  bills related to the 2015–2016 budget (S2009-B/A3009-B and S4610-A/A6721-A, collectively referred to herein as the “Budget Bill”) containing several significant “technical corrections” to the New York State corporate income tax reform enacted in 2014, along with sales tax provisions and amendments to reform New York City’s General Corporation Tax.  The Budget Bill’s technical corrections to last year’s corporate income tax reform include changes to the economic nexus, tax base and income classification, tax rate (including clarifications to rules applicable to certain taxpayers, such as qualified New York manufacturers), apportionment, combined reporting, net operating loss and tax credit provisions.  The technical corrections are effective on the same date as last year’s corporate income tax reform, which was generally effective for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2015.

This post is the third in a series analyzing the New York Budget Bill, and discusses changes to the tax rates and to the qualified New York manufacturer provisions.

Qualified New York Manufacturers

Effective for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2014, qualified New York manufacturers are subject to a 0 percent business income tax rate and to beneficial rates for purposes of the tax on business capital and the fixed dollar minimum tax.

Under the original corporate tax reform provisions enacted in 2014, a “qualified New York manufacturer” is a manufacturer (either a single taxpayer or a combined group) that meets two qualifications.  First, it has property in New York that is described in section 210-B.1 of the Tax Law (i.e., property that is eligible for the investment tax credit), and either (1) the adjusted basis of such property for federal income tax purposes at the close of the taxable year is at least $1 million, or (2) all of its real and personal property is located in New York.  Second, it is principally engaged in qualifying activities (e.g., manufacturing, processing or assembling) (the “principally engaged” test).

A taxpayer—or, in the case of a combined report, a combined group—that does not satisfy the principally engaged test may still be a qualified New York manufacturer if the taxpayer or the combined group employs during the taxable year at least 2,500 employees in manufacturing in New York, and has property in the state used in manufacturing, the adjusted basis of which for federal income tax purposes at the close of the taxable year is at least $100 million.

The technical corrections in the 2015 Budget Bill restrict the types of property eligible for consideration in the principally engaged test to property mentioned in Tax Law section 210-B.1(b)(i)(A) (property that is principally used by the taxpayer in the production of goods by manufacturing, processing, assembling, refining, mining, extracting, farming, agriculture, horticulture, floriculture, viticulture or commercial fishing), rather than property described in the entirety of section 210-B.1.  This correction mirrors the definition of eligible property before the 2014 law changes.

The technical corrections also contain an important clarification with respect to the application of the qualified New [...]

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