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NEWS & TIPS
The Sales Tax Institute reviews numerous sales tax publications to monitor state activity on various topics related to sales and use tax. By checking updates routinely, you may be alerted to an impending tax law change critical to your business.
Browse recent and archived news items by searching relevant categories, states or descriptions at right
The information listed here is high-level summary and background material intended to help you stay current in the dynamic area of sales and use tax. Sources include CCH State Tax Day, Sales and Use Tax Alert, Sales Tax Notes, Vertex, Inc. Reference Manuals, Westlaw, and other miscellaneous state tax newsletters and Department of Revenue notices.
Please note that these summaries omit many details and special rules, and cannot be regarded as legal or tax advice. For more information, be sure to contact your tax advisor.
HOT NEWS UPDATES:
On December 18, 2015, President Barack Obama signed H.R. 2029 – Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016. The Act extends the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) through October 1, 2016. Prior provisions that grandfather taxes that existed prior to October 1, 1998 are also extended through October 1, 2016. For our previous news item on this topic, see Internet Tax Freedom Act Extended Until December 11, 2015. (H.R. 2029 – Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016)
New Hampshire has enacted a tax amnesty program that will take place from December 1, 2015 through February 15, 2016. The amnesty program will apply to taxes administered and collected by the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration. Waiver of all penalties and interest in excess of 50% of the applicable interest rate for unpaid taxes that are reported and paid in full will be granted during the amnesty program. The amnesty program only applies to taxes due but unpaid on or before February 15, 2016. The amnesty applies regardless of whether the unpaid taxes were assessed previously. On or after March 1, 2016, interest and penalties will be mandatory for any taxes that were due before December 1, 2015, barring the provision of any other law. The Department or any administrative tribunal or court with jurisdiction will not have discretion to waive, abate, reduce, or remit any penalties assessed on taxes that were due before December 1, 2015.(Ch. 276 (H.B. 2), Laws 2015, effective July 1, 2015, and applicable as noted)
Alabama has enacted legislation directing the state’s Department of Revenue to implement a tax amnesty program effective for at least two months in 2016 and taking place before August 31, 2016. The amnesty program will apply to all taxes administered by the department, except for motor fuel taxes and certain penalties. Taxes due prior to January 1, 2015 or taxes for taxable periods that began before January 1, 2015 are eligible for the program. 50% of interest and all penalties on the applicable tax will be waived under the program. A look-back period of three tax years will apply. If a taxpayer has collected any tax without remitting it, the look-back period includes all periods back to the point of collection. Participating taxpayers must agree that the right to protest or initiate an administrative or judicial proceeding is barred.(Act 2015-555 (S.B. 20c), Laws 2015, effective September 21, 2015)
On June 15, 2015, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced the Remote Transactions Parity Act (RTPA) of 2015 in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill – similar to the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) of 2015 – pertains to sales and use taxcollection obligations for remote sellers, but the RTPA contains some differences and several additional provisions. Unlike the MFA’s $1 million small seller exception, the RTPA’s small seller exception is as follows: first year: $10 million; second year: $5 million; third year: $1 million. 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. Under the RTPA, sellers would not be audited by states where they don’t have a physical presence. There would be a three year statute of limitations for assessments on remote sellers. The bill would enable remote sellers to refund over-collected tax to customers. The RTPA also specifies that a state would not be authorized to impose a sales and use tax collection requirement on remote sellers until it has certified multiple software providers that are certified in all states seeking to impose authorization requirements. The RTPA would also allow customers to pursue refunds of over-collected tax from remote sellers. However, RTPA does not preempt states from imposing sales and use taxes on remote sellers that do not have physical presence under this definition. It merely authorizes states to impose sales and use tax on remote sellers without a physical presence. Under the RTPA, if a seller has nexus under existing law, including Quill v. North Dakota, then the state may still impose a sales and use tax collection requirement. The bill is assigned to the Judiciary Committee just like the MFA. On July 1, 2015 it was referred to the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial And Antitrust Law. (H.R. 2775, the Remote Transactions Parity Act of 2015)
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has signed the Massachusetts fiscal year 2016 budget, which authorizes a tax amnesty program to be established for a period of 60 days as determined by the Commissioner of Revenue. The scope of the program, including the tax types and periods covered as well as the look-back period for unfiled returns (for a period not to exceed three years) will be determined by the Commissioner. It is unclear from the legislation how the 3 year lookback will apply. Under the amnesty program, penalties will be waived for qualifying taxpayers who have failed to timely file any proper return for any tax types and for any tax periods, timely pay any tax liability, or pay the proper amount of any required estimated payment toward a tax liability. Penalties will be waived without the need for any showing by the taxpayer of reasonable cause or the absence of willful neglect. The amnesty program will not apply to penalties for underpayment of tax or inconsistent reporting of taxable income, with regard to returns filed pursuant to the amnesty. The waiver of penalties will not apply to any period for which the taxpayer does not file such proper returns.
Participating taxpayers must voluntarily file proper returns and pay the full amount of tax on the returns, or the amount due upon the Commissioner’s assessments, plus all interest due. All required payments must be made by June 30, 2016. The amnesty will not apply to a tax liability of any tax type for a period commencing on or after January 1, 2014. The amnesty will not apply to taxpayers who have been the subject of a tax-related criminal investigation or prosecution or to taxpayers who have delivered or disclosed any false or fraudulent application, document, return, or other statement. The Commissioner is also required to establish administrative procedures and methods to prevent any taxpayer who participates in the amnesty program from utilizing any future tax amnesty programs for the next consecutive 10 years, beginning in calendar year 2015. (Press Release, Office of Gov. Charlie Baker, July 17, 2015)