SALT Blawg – State and Local Tax
State and Local tax issues require state and local tax knowledge. SALT Blawg provides exactly that knowledge with news updates and commentary about state and local tax issues. You can expect to find relevant information about topics such as income (corporate and personal) tax, franchise tax, sales and use tax, property (real and personal) tax, fuel tax, capital stock tax, bank tax, gross receipts tax and withholding tax. SALT Blawg, offers tax talk for tax pros… in your neighborhood.
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State DOR Letters and Rulings
Florida ruled that when a cleaning service provider uses cleaning supplies to perform the cleaning services, sales and use tax is due on those supplies. However, to the extent those supplies are not used, but sold to a customer for their use, the transaction is exempt as a sale for resale.
The Texas Comptroller ruled that a series LLC would be treated as a single entity for Texas franchise tax purposes. The entity cannot be broken up into separate parts, but must file as one.
Alabama ruled that winter park provided amusement services subject to sales tax. The amusement services included hay rides, Christmas plays, and Christmas displays.
The Illinois Department of Revenue published a letter on the sales tax treatment of software maintenance agreements. It is a fairly aggressive position, with any transfer of “patch” code constituting a taxable transfer.
State Regulations and Public Notices
Both Georgia and West Virginia filed updated Section 328 taxability matrices for their respective states. Under the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSUTA), each state must maintain a taxability matrix that defines the manner in which that state treats all defined items. It must make them available to the public.
New Jersey released guidance on sales tax imposed for investigation and security services that are sourced to that state. It opined that the taxable base is quite expansive, and should include the actual costs to perform the service, any materials or labor used, including interest, taxes paid, and any other expense. Reimbursable expenses such as meals and mileage must also be included.
Rhode Island issued a public notice of the revised regulation for the taxation of software, whether in electronic form or on physical media. A source at the Division of Taxation has advised that the proposed regulation has received little comment, and is not expected to change. The effective date for the taxation of prewritten software delivered electronically by download or other electronic means is effective October 1, 2011. The regulation also addresses the taxation of maintenance for prewritten software.
Indiana issued guidance on the taxation of drop shipments. It opined that generally the drop shipment, if properly followed, would not be subject to sales tax based on the sale for resale exemption. The purchaser requesting the drop shipment must present the prescribed Form ST-105.
State Legislative Affairs
Maryland’s legislative services staff presented the argument that a gross receipts tax would benefit the state and increase tax revenues. It used a Power Point presentation to make the sale.
At the federal level in an issue directly impacting the several states, unions are applying political pressure for legislators to vote “no” on HR 1439. HR 1439, known as the “Business Activity Tax Simplification Act,” would regulate the state taxation of interstate commerce and deal with the nexus issues being raised at the state level, employing the Joyce approach as opposed to the Finnigan approach. As an aside, Texas uses the Joyce approach for its franchise tax. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the act would “cost” the states $2 billion. The Multistate Tax Commission echos the concern of the cost to the states, and passage seems highly unlikely.
Judicial and Administrative Decisions
The Louisiana Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has ruled in favor of the taxpayers, Utelcom Inc. and UCOM, Inc., and reversed the trial court's decision. The taxpayers owned limited partnership interests in three Delaware limited partnerships that were Sprint affiliates. They had not commercial domicile in Louisiana, and but for these limited partnership interests they had no connection with Louisiana. The taxpayers argued that Louisiana's assessment of franchise tax against them violated the privileges, immunities, and protections afforded them by the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution and the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the United States and Louisiana Constitutions. Louisiana argued that "unity of purpose" caused the actions of related Sprint entities to create nexus with taxpayers. The Court found that there was no statutory basis for this proposed incident of taxation, that the entities were all separate juridical entities, and there was no "Louisiana codal, statutory, or jurisprudential authority" to attribute the actions of one Sprint entity against the other.
Louisiana also argued that the actions of the general partner of US Telecom acting as the general partner for Sprint Communications LP should be attributed to the taxpayers as some form of agent for the taxpayers. The Court found that the general partner has the authority to bind Sprint Communications LP, but it lacks the authority to act as the agent for the taxpayers.
Louisiana pointed to a regulation that allows taxation where a person conducts business in Louisiana through a partnership, joint venture, or otherwise. However, the Court pointed to the fact that the statute limits this to corporations, and that the Department of Revenues attempt to expand the taxing statute beyond the scope set by the legislature must fail. Though determining that the franchise tax would not extend to the taxpayers by statute, the Court, nonetheless, addressed the argument in Secretary, Dep't of Revenue, State of La. v. Gap (Apparel), Inc., 886 So.2d 459 (La.App. 2004) (finding that a company's receipt of royalties from the use of its intangible property in Louisiana). Because the property being used was not owned by the taxpayers, Gap did not apply.