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The Multistate Tax Commission opened a sales/use tax and income/franchise tax amnesty program for online marketplace sellers during the fall of 2017. Online marketplace sellers responded and a total of 852 of them applied to participate, overwhelming the MTC office that only deals with about 100 taxpayers per year.

Originally, the MTC received all the taxpayer’s necessary documentation before forwarding it to the state. Given the volume of applicants, the committee agreed to expedite the process by allowing taxpayers to send final voluntary disclosure agreements, tax registration forms, and other documents directly to the states. This procedural change only applies to sellers who are still waiting to receive state-signed voluntary disclosure agreements. The MTC will inform sellers if they have the option to send documents directly to the states.

For the previous four-year period, thirty applicants reported more than $1 million in back tax liability. Around a quarter of all applicants reported at least $100,000 in back tax liability.

Although the MTC program is closed, taxpayers who believe they have a liability should consider state offered amnesty programs or a voluntary disclosure.  Some states may be willing to negotiate with online sellers.  We are working with some states to negotiate more favorable terms. If you are interested, contact us.
 

(01/29/2018)

With the turn of the new year, Florida’s sales tax rate imposed on the total rent charged for renting, leasing, letting, or granting a license to use commercial real property will be reduced. The general state level tax will drop from 6 percent to 5.8 percent for rental payments received on or after January 1, 2018, and for occupancy periods beginning on or after January 1, 2018. Many Florida counties also impose a local option surtax, varying between 0.5 percent and one percent. The local tax rates will not be reduced for 2018.



The tax is imposed not only on the base rent, but also on any additional rent, or any consideration required to be paid by the tenant as a condition of occupancy. As a result, the tax is also due on the tenant’s share of common area maintenance charges, real property taxes, and most other charges required under the lease.



The reduced tax rate is applicable to the lease period to which the rent relates. For example, if a landlord receives rent payments in 2018 for December 2017 occupancy, the 6 percent state level rate would still be applicable. However, if a tenant pays rent for January 2018 in December 2017, the new 5.8 percent rate would apply.



Unless a rental is under a bona fide written lease for 6 months or longer, the lease of residential property is subject to the sales tax on transient rentals. The tax rate on transient rentals will remain unchanged at the 6 percent rate (plus local option surtax) for 2018. The local tourist development taxes that are also applicable to transient rentals will not receive a rate reduction either (GreenbergTraurig Alert, Marvin A. Kirsner & Tax Information Publication, No. 17A01-14, Florida Department of Revenue, November 13, 2017).

(01/02/2018)

The Multistate Tax Commission (MTC) has announced a sales/use tax and income/franchise tax amnesty program for online sellers that will run from August 17 to November 1, 2017 (previously October 17, 2017). Qualified online sellers with potential tax liability may be able to use the MTC's voluntary disclosure agreement (VDA) to negotiate a settlement during the amnesty period if they meet certain eligibility requirements. Taxpayers that have not been contacted by any of the states participating in the amnesty program will be able to apply to start remitting sales tax on future sales without penalty or liability for unpaid, prior accumulated sales tax in the participating states. 25 MTC member states have agreed to participate in the amnesty program. The participating states include: 

 

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado (sales/use tax only)
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia (may not waive all prior periods)
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts (special provisions apply)
  • Minnesota (special provisions apply)
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska (may not waive all prior periods)
  • New Jersey
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas 
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin (will require payment of back tax and interest for a lookback period commencing January 1, 2015 for sales/use tax, and including the prior tax years of 2015 and 2016 for income/franchise tax)

 

Some of the additional states may require a limited look-back period for prior tax liabilities. Sellers who wish to participate in the program will need to file the voluntary disclosure program paperwork during the program dates. The MTC will route the paperwork for each participating state for which the seller is seeking amnesty protection. For more details visit the MTC website.

 

UPDATE: The Multistate Tax Commission's online seller amnesty program is now over. If you didn't take advantage of this program but realize you need to evaluate your activities, you can contact us here.

(11/07/2017)

On June 12, 2017, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced the No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017. A previous version of this bill had been introduced in 2016 and failed to pass. Under the proposed bill, a State may tax or regulate a person’s activity in interstate commerce only when such person is physically present in the State during the period in which the tax or regulation is imposed. Under the proposed bill, the physical presencerequirement would apply to sales and use taxand net income and other business activities taxes, as well as the states’ ability to regulateinterstate commerce. “Physical presence” in a state includes:

 

  • maintaining a commercial or legal domicile in the state;
  • owning, holding a leasehold interest in, or maintaining real property such as an office, retail store, warehouse, distribution center, manufacturing operation, or assembly facility in the state;
  • leasing or owning tangible personal property (other than computer software) of more than de minimis value in the state;
  • having one or more employees, agents or independent contractors present in the state who provide on-site design, installation, or repair services on behalf of the remote seller;
  • having one or more employees, exclusive agents or exclusive independent contractors present in the state who engage in activities that substantially assist the person to establish or maintain a market in the state; or
  • regularly employing in the state three or more employees for any purpose.

 

“Physical presence” in a state would not include:

 

  • entering into an agreement under which a person, for a commission or other consideration, directly or indirectly refers potential purchasers to a person outside the state, whether by an Internet-based link or platform, Internet Web site or otherwise;
  • any presence in a state for less than 15 days in a taxable year (or a greater number of days if provided by state law);
  • product placement, setup or other services offered in connection with delivery of products by an interstate or in-state carrier or other service provider;
  • Internet advertising services provided by in-state residents which are not exclusively directed towards, or do not solicit exclusively, in-state customers;
  • ownership by a person outside the state of an interest in a limited liability company or similar entity organized or with a physical presence in the state;
  • the furnishing of information to customers or affiliates in such state, or the coverage of events or other gathering of information in such state by such person, or his representative, which information is used or disseminated from a point outside the state; or
  • business activities directly relating to such person's potential or actual purchase of goods or services within the State if the final decision to purchase is made outside the state.

 

In addition, the bill prohibits the imposition or assessment of a sales, use or other similar tax or a reporting requirement unless the purchaser or seller has physical presence in the state.  This would prohibit all the remote seller legislation (click through, affiliate, economic, marketplace and reporting/notification). If enacted, the legislation would apply with respect to calendar quarters beginning on or after January 1, 2018. (No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017)

(07/12/2017)

Rentals of commercial real property are subject to sales & use tax.  A lessee’s payments to a lessor that were in addition to the rental payments were subject to Florida sales tax. The lessee’s additional payments were to cover property taxes and related assessments. The lessor did not charge, collect, or remit sales tax to the state on the additional payments. The lessor was audited and the state assessed sales tax on the additional payments made by the lessee.Generally, a total rental payment is taxable, including all considerations due and payable by a tenant for the right to use or occupy real property for any purpose, specificallyincluding ad valorem taxes. The additional payments were regarded as payments for the right to occupy and use the leased premises and were, therefore, taxable as a part of the total rental consideration. (Technical Assistance Advisement, No. 16A-008, Florida Department of Revenue, June 24, 2016, released August 2016)

(05/24/2017)

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