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House Judiciary Subcommittee to Consider Sensenbrenner Bill Tomorrow

The No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017 (NRWRA) is scheduled for a hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law on Tuesday, July 25 at 10:00 am EDT in 2141 Rayburn House Office Building. The bill was introduced by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) last month with House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) as one of seven original co-sponsors. As described in more detail below, the bill would codify the Bellas Hess “physical presence” requirement upheld by the US Supreme Court in Quill and make that requirement applicable to sales, use and other similar transactional taxes, notice and reporting requirements, net income taxes and other business activity taxes. Extending the concept to an area far beyond state taxation, the bill would also require the same physical presence for a state or locality to regulate the out-of-state production, manufacturing or post-sale disposal of any good or...

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BREAKING NEWS: Expanded “Physical Presence” Codification Bill Introduced in House

On, June 12, 2017, the No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017 was introduced by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) with House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) as one of seven original co-sponsors. As described in detail below, the scope and applicability of the “physical presence” requirement in the 2017 bill is significantly broader than the first iteration of the bill that was introduced last year. Not only does the bill expand the physical presence rule to all taxes, it expands the rule to all regulations. 2016 Bill In July 2016, Congressman Sensenbrenner introduced the No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2016 (H.R. 5893) in the US House of Representatives. The bill provided that states and localities could not: (1) obligate a person to collect a sales, use or similar tax; (2) obligate a person to report sales; (3) assess a tax on a person; or (4) treat the person as doing business in a state or locality for purposes of such tax...

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Breaking News: Physical Presence Requirement Bill Introduced in Congress

Yesterday, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced the No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2016 (H.R. 5893) in the US House of Representatives (House).  The bill would codify the physical presence requirement established by the US Supreme Court in Quill.  The bill would specifically define physical presence, creating a de minimis threshold, and would significantly affect existing state efforts to expand the definition of physical presence and overturn Quill. Not only would the bill preempt the ‘nexus expansion’ laws, such as click-through nexus provisions, affiliate nexus provisions, reporting requirements and marketplace collection bills, but it would likely halt the South Dakota and Alabama (and other state litigation) specifically designed to overturn Quill.  It would also move all future litigation on this issue to federal courts. The bill would be effective as of January 1, 2017.  The bill was referred to the House Committee on the...

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Michigan Backs Off Cloud Tax, Refund Opportunities Available

After refusing to back down on the issue for years, the Michigan Department of Treasury (Department) issued guidance last week to taxpayers announcing a change in its policy on the sales and use taxation of remotely accessed prewritten computer software.  This comes after years of litigating the issue in the Michigan courts, most recently with the precedential taxpayer victory in Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Dep't of Treasury, No. 321505 (Mich. Ct. App. Oct. 27, 2015), in which the Michigan Court of Appeals held that remote access to software did not constitute delivery of tangible personal property.  See our prior coverage here.  The Department has announced it will apply Auto-Owners (and the numerous other favorable decisions) retroactively and thus allow for refunds for all open tax years.  This is a huge victory for taxpayers; however, those that paid the tax (both purchasers and providers alike) must act promptly to coordinate and request a refund prior to...

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Precedential Cloud Victory in Michigan Court of Appeals

On Tuesday, a three-judge panel sitting for the Michigan Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed a lower court decision finding that the use of cloud-based services in Michigan is not subject to use tax in Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Dep’t of Treasury, No. 321505 (Mich. Ct. App. Oct. 27, 2015). While there have been a number of cloud-based use tax victories in the Michigan courts over the past year and a half, this decision marks the first published Court of Appeals opinion (i.e., it has precedential effect under the rule of stare decisis). See Mich. Ct. R. 7.215(C)(2). Therefore, the trial courts and Michigan Court of Appeals are obligated to follow the holdings in this case when presented with similar facts, until the Michigan Supreme Court or Court of Appeals say otherwise. While the ultimate outcome (i.e., not taxable) of the lower court decision was affirmed, the analysis used by the Court of Appeals to get there was slightly different and the court took the...

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Favorable New York Guidance on Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Noncommercial Aircraft

On July 24, 2015, the New York Department of Taxation and Finance published guidance on the sales and use tax exemption for “general aviation aircraft,” effective September 1, 2015.  N.Y. Dep’t of Taxation & Finance, TSB-M-15(3)S (July 24, 2015).  The exemption, to be added as subsection (a)(21-a) of section 1115 of the Tax Law, exempts from sales and use tax “general aviation aircraft, and machinery or equipment to be installed on such aircraft.”  Previously, such sales and uses were fully taxable. “General aviation aircraft” is defined broadly as aircraft used in civil aviation, except for commercial or military aircraft or “an unmanned aerial vehicle or drone.”  With respect to “general aviation aircraft,” the ruling states receipts from the following items are tax-exempt: Aircraft itself Property affixed to aircraft for its equipping, including furniture, fixtures, built-in appliances, window coverings, climate control systems or entertainment systems...

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Inside the New York Budget Bill: Sales Tax Provisions

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. This post is the seventh in a series analyzing the New York Budget Bill, and summarizes the sales tax provisions in the Budget Bill. Dodd-Frank Act Relief Provisions The Budget Bill includes provisions that provide relief from potential sales and use tax implications arising from compliance with certain requirements of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (commonly referred to as Dodd-Frank).  Under Dodd-Frank, large financial services organizations must develop and implement resolution plans allowing for an orderly wind-down of their banking and...

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Louisiana Supreme Court Upholds Bundling Portable Toilet Leases and Cleaning Services, but Not Sure About True Object of Resulting Transactions

If you are ever waiting in line for portable toilet facilities at the St. Patty’s Day Parade and in need of something to think about, consider the property and service you are about to use: Is it the lease of tangible personal property, the provision of a cleaning and waste removal service, or both? The Supreme Court of Louisiana grappled with this fundamental sales and use tax issue in Pot-O-Gold Rentals, LLC v. City of Baton Rouge, No. 2014-C-2154 (La. Jan. 16, 2015). Approaching the provision of toilets and services as a single transaction and finding the true object to be unclear, the court interpreted the taxing statute narrowly and ruled in favor of the taxpayer. Underlying the opinion is an unusually broad, all-or-nothing bundling approach to the taxability of goods and services provided together. The City of Baton Rouge taxes the lease of tangible personal property but does not tax the provision of cleaning services. The taxpayer provided both: a...

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Illinois Retailers Beware: Class Action Complaint Filed Against Grocer for Collecting Illinois Sales Tax on Manufacturers’ Coupons Lacking Specific Language

A class action complaint was filed in federal court last week against the operator of a grocery chain, alleging failure to deduct manufacturers’ coupons from the tax base on which sales tax was calculated and collected from customers.  This latest attack on a retailer relies on an interpretation of a Department of Revenue regulation that, if correct, would be overly burdensome on Illinois retailers. Other Illinois retailers that accept manufacturers’ coupons may be at risk of being sued in similar actions or may be forced to change their practices. The Illinois sales tax, the Retailers’ Occupation Tax, is a tax on a retailer’s gross receipts. Store coupons, where a retailer does not receive reimbursement from another party, constitute a reduction in a retailer’s gross receipts and therefore reduce the tax owed. 86 Ill. Admin. Code 130.2125(b)(1). Manufacturers’ coupons, on the other hand, involve reimbursement to a retailer from a third party. This...

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Inside the New York Budget Bill: 30-Day Amendments

On Friday, February 20, 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office released the 30-Day Amendments to the 2015–2016 New York State Executive Budget Legislation (Budget Bill).  This year, instead of the usual set of corrections and minor changes to the Budget Bill, the 30-Day Amendments focused primarily on the governor’s five-point ethics reform plan, with only very few corrections and minor changes included with respect to the Revenue Bill.  Those few corrections and changes focused on credits and incentives (e.g., technical corrections and clarifications to the New York State School Tax Relief (STAR) Program, the real property tax credit, the Brownfield Cleanup Program, and the credit for alternative fuel and electric vehicles) leaving any changes to the proposed sales tax provisions, corporate franchise tax technical correction provisions and New York City conformity provisions to the legislative process.  Please see our On the Subject related to the Budget...

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