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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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Weekly SALT News Update

State DOR Letters and Administrative Rulings

The Indiana Department of Revenue provided guidance on what constitutes tangible personal property. That guidance includes the specific view that electricity is tangible personal property. It also discusses the taxation of intangibles in the state. It also ruled that medical devices are not exempt if there is not a prescription. So a sale of a medical device to a doctor or a hospital is not exempt as a device being prescribed. It may qualify for the sale for resale exemption, as the doctor resells the device to a patient, but the requirements to claim a sale for resale exemption must be followed.

The Connecticut Department of Revenue offered guidance on new sales tax changes for the sale of vehicles and extended warranties as a result of 2011 legislation. New taxable services include motor vehicle towing and road services, and motor vehicle storage services.

The Maine Department of Revenue revised guidance regarding warranty agreements, service contracts, and maintenance agreements.

Tennessee’s Department of Revenue ruled that an out-of state provider of telecommunication services is not subject to sales tax, but that the services are taxed where the services are actually performed. In another ruling, it found that a person who delivers rented tangible personal property to provide services must charges sales tax on those delivery charges. And over the counter sales of fuel are not exempt from sales tax, strictly construing the exemption for sales of fuel for residential use against the taxpayer. Last, software configuration services are not subject to sales tax.

 

State Regulations and Public Notices

Prior to the publication of Indiana Commissioner’s Directive #41, Indiana Department of Revenue imposed sales and use tax on products transferred electronically based on whether the products were taxable in their tangible forms. Citing compliance with the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, the Department will impose sales and use tax on products transferred electronically only if the products meet the definition of specified digital products, prewritten computer software, or telecommunication services.

 

State Legislative Affairs

The bill in Michigan to institute a New York style Amazon tax has been introduced and numbered.

California adds olive trees to those items taxed at the 1% gross sales tax rate for deciduous pome and stone fruit trees, nut trees, and grapevines.

Massachusetts Senate pushed forward S.2015 that would authorize casinos and one slot parlors in the state. It levies a 25 percent gross gaming revenue tax, and a 40 percent daily tax on gross gaming revenue from a single slot parlor.

The National Conference of State Legislatures met in San Antonio, and reportedly ended with the Multistate Tax Commission (“MTC”) and Chainbridge Software, LLC playing defense. The MTC came under attack for not being quite up front and public in the decision making process, while Chainbridge was attacked for using unreliable data to calculate potential audit candidates for government authorities.

 

Judicial and Administrative Decisions

Texas Third Court of Appeals hears oral argument of DTWC Corp. v. Combs. The case involves a potential expansion of the sale for resale exemption to include any transfer of tangible personal property in connection with services, regardless of whether the services have been subject to sales tax. Also, potentially it loosens the requirement of consideration to be paid with a sale for resale. Oral argument appeared to go better for the taxpayer, the appellant, than the Texas Attorney General.

In Ivory Homes, Ltd. v. Utah State Tax Comm’n, No. 20090679, (Utah 2011), the Utah Supreme Court ruled against the taxpayer’s argument that charges for shipping that were not separately stated should be excluded from the imposition of sales tax. Utah does not impose sales tax on shipping charges so long as they are separately stated. Because there was no written evidence of an intent by the parties to separately charge sales tax, and the amount charged was presented as one amount (including shipping), sales tax was appropriate on the entire amount.

New York Tax Appeals Tribunal required a company to file a consolidated return with wholly-owned subsidiaries as taxpayer failed to rebut the presumption of distortion under 20 NYCRR 6-2-3.

The Ninth Circuit, in Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Indian Nation v. Gregoire, Dkt. No. 10-35776 (9th Cir. Sept. 23, 2011), ruled in favor of the State of Washington, finding that the requirement for retailers of an Indian tribe to collect tax was not a tax imposed on the tribe, but a pass through tax. Further, collection of the tax is a minimal burden imposed on the tribe and permitted pursuant to Washington v. Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation, 447 U.S. 134 (1980).

 

Other News

Good article regarding the current status of the Amazon legislation across the country, including Amazon’s current “play nice” strategy with California.

Study by Rutgers University for the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association shows New Jersey lost between $52 million and $171 million due to non-payment by New Jersey residents of sales use taxes on Internet purchases.