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On July 14, 2016, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced the No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2016.  Taking the opposite approach of the Marketplace Fairness Act and Remote Transactions Parity Act, this proposed bill would limit the ability of states to require remote sellers to collect use tax. If enacted, the Act would codify the physical presence requirement established by the US Supreme Court in Quill Corp v. North Dakota.  The bill would define physical presence and create a de minimis threshold. If enacted, the bill would preempt click-through nexus, affiliate nexus, reporting requirements and marketplace nexus legislation. The bill would be effective as of January 1, 2017. The bill defines “seller” and provides that states and localities may not:

 

  • Obligate a person to collect a sales, use or similar tax; 
  • Obligate a person to report sales; 
  • Assess a tax on a person; or 
  • Treat the person as doing business in a state or locality for purposes of such tax unless the person has a physical presence in the jurisdiction during the calendar quarter that the obligation or assessment is imposed.

 

Persons would be considered to have a physical presence only if during the calendar year the person: 

 

  • Owns or leases real or tangible personal property in the state; 
  • Has one or more employees, agents or independent contractors in the state specifically soliciting product or service orders from customers in the state or providing design, installation or repair services there; or 
  • Maintains an office in-state with three or more employees for any purpose.

 

Physical presence would not include: 

 

  • Click-through referral agreements with in-state persons who receive commissions for referring customers to the seller; 
  • Presence for less than 15 days in a taxable year; 
  • Product delivery provided by a common carrier; or 
  • Internet advertising services not exclusively directed towards, or exclusively soliciting in-state customers.

 

The bill defines seller to exclude marketplace providers; referrers; third-party delivery services in which the seller does not have an ownership interest; and credit card issuers, transaction or billing processors or financial intermediaries.Marketplace Providers are defined as any person other than the seller who facilitates a sale which includes listing or advertising the items or services for sale and either directly or indirectly collects gross receipts from the customer and transmits the amounts to the marketplace seller. (No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2016 (H.R. 5893))

 

UPDATE: This bill failed to pass during the 114th Congressional Session running from January 3, 2015 to January 3, 2017.  Therefore, this bill has died and would need to be reintroduced to be considered and voted on.

(08/23/2016)

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)

 

UPDATE: This bill failed to pass during the 114th Congressional Session running from January 3, 2015 to January 3, 2017.  Therefore, this bill has died and would need to be reintroduced to be considered and voted on.

(09/08/2015)

On March 10, 2015, a bipartisan group of senators introduced the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2015. Similar legislation – the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 – was previously introduced in February 2013 and passed by the Senate on May 6, 2013. That legislation failed to be enacted. If passed, the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2015 would authorize states meeting certain requirements to require remote sellers that do not meet a "small seller exception" to collect their state and local sales and use taxes. For more information on the previous legislation, visit Federal Government Introduces New Remote Seller Bill. (Marketplace Fairness Act of 2015, March 10, 2015)

 

UPDATE: This bill failed to pass during the 114th Congressional Session running from January 3, 2015 to January 3, 2017.  Therefore, this bill has died and would need to be reintroduced to be considered and voted on.

(03/16/2015)

Maine Gov. Paul Lepage signed H.P. 251 into law on June 5.  The legislation amends existing sales and use tax nexus rules, adds affiliate nexus and click-through nexus provisions to the sales and use tax laws, and requires the preparation of a report concerning the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SST). Under the legislation, every agent, representative, salesperson, solicitor, or distributor that has a substantial physical presence in Maine sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the Due Process and Commerce Clauses of the U.S. Constitution is required to register as a seller in Maine. Activities that constitute a substantial physical presence in Maine include soliciting business through catalogs and flyers when the goods are delivered by U.S. mail or a third-party common carrier, attendance of trade shows and other activities. Drop shipping and telemarketing services performed by a Maine vendor are removed from the list of activities not considered to constitute a substantial physical presence.

The enacted legislation creates a rebuttable presumption that a seller is engaged in business in Maine if an affiliated person has a substantial physical presence in Maine. A seller is also presumed to be engaged in business in Maine if any person (other than a person acting in its capacity as a common carrier) has a substantial physical presence in-state and: sells a similar line of products as the seller and does so under a business name that is the same or similar to that of the seller; maintains an office, distribution facility, warehouse, or storage place or similar place of business in Maine to facilitate the delivery of property or services sold by the seller; uses trademarks, service marks, or trade names in Maine that are the same or substantially similar to those used by the seller; facilitates the seller’s delivery of property to customers in Maine by allowing the customers to pick up the property at an office, distribution facility, warehouse, storage place, or similar place of business maintained by the person in Maine; or conducts any activities in Maine that are significantly associated with the seller’s ability to establish and maintain a market in Maine. The presumption can be rebutted by demonstrating that the person’s activities in Maine are not significantly associated with the seller’s ability to establish or maintain a market in Maine. An "affiliated person" is a person that is a member of the same "controlled group of corporations" as the seller or any other entity, regardless of its form of organization, which bears the same ownership relationship to the seller as a corporation that is a member of the same "controlled group of corporations."

The legislation also creates a rebuttable presumption under which a seller is presumed to be engaged in business in Maine if the seller enters into an agreement with a person, under which the person, while in Maine, directly or indirectly refers potential customers to the seller in exchange for a commission or other consideration. The referral may be by a link on a website, telemarketing, an in-person presentation, or otherwise. The presumption applies only if the cumulative gross receipts from retail sales by the seller to customers in Maine referred by all persons with this type of an agreement are in excess of $10,000 during the preceding 12 months. The presumption can be rebutted by submitting proof that the person with whom the seller has an agreement did not engage in any activity within Maine that was significantly associated with the seller’s ability to establish or maintain the seller’s market in Maine during the preceding 12 months. The provisions for website link referral agreements apply to sales made, uses occurring and services rendered on or after the effective date of this legislation, regardless of the date on which the agreement was entered. When calculating whether the 12-month threshold is met, the 12-month period begins one year immediately preceding the seller’s registering as a retailer in Maine. Sellers who meet the affiliate nexus or click-through requirements must register with the State Tax Assessor and collect and remit taxes. However, a seller who enters into an agreement under which customers are referred by a link on a website is not required to register or collect taxes solely due to the agreement’s existence.   (L.D. 346 (H.P. 251), Laws 2013, effective 90 days after adjournment of the 2013 Maine Legislature)

(06/25/2013)

The federal Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 was introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate on February 14, 2013.  If passed, the bill would authorize states that meet certain requirements to require remote sellers that do not meet a "small seller exception" to collect their state and local sales and use taxes.  Under the legislation, a state would be authorized to require a remote seller to collect sales and use taxes only if the remote seller has gross annual receipts in total remote sales in the United States of more than $1 million in the preceding calendar year.

 

Member states of the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax (SST) Agreement would be authorized to require all sellers that do not qualify for the small seller exception to collect and remit sales and use taxes with respect to remote sales sourced to that member state pursuant to the provisions of the SST Agreement. The SST Agreement would have to include certain minimum simplification requirements. An SST member state could begin to exercise authority under the Act beginning 90 days after the state publishes notice of its intent to exercise such authority, but no earlier than the first day of the calendar quarter that is at least 90 days after the date of the enactment of the Act.

 

States that are not members of the SST Agreement would be authorized, notwithstanding any other provision of law, to require all sellers that do not qualify for the small seller exception to collect and remit sales and use taxes with respect to remote sales sourced to the state if the state implements certain minimum simplification requirements. The authority would begin no earlier than the first day of the calendar quarter that is at least six months after the state enacts legislation to exercise the authority granted by the Act.

 

To enforce collection requirements on remote sellers that do not meet the small seller exception, states that are not members of the SST Agreement would have to implement the minimum simplification requirements listed below. For SST member states to have collection authority, the requirements would have to be included in the SST Agreement.

 

-       A single entity within the state responsible for all state and local sales and use tax administration, return processing, and audits for remote sales sourced to the state

-       A single audit of a remote seller for all state and local taxing jurisdictions within that state

-       A single sales and use tax return to be used by remote sellers to be filed with the single entity responsible for tax administration.

-       Each state would have to provide a uniform sales and use tax base among the state and the local taxing jurisdictions within the state.

-       Each state would have to source all interstate sales in compliance with the sourcing definition outlined below.

-       Each state would have to provide information indicating the taxability of products and services along with any product and service exemptions from sales and use tax in the state and a rates and boundary database. States would have to provide free software for remote sellers that calculates sales and use taxes due on each transaction at the time the transaction is completed, that files sales and use tax returns, and that is updated to reflect state and local rate changes. States would also have to provide certification procedures for persons to be approved as certified software providers (CSPs). Such CSPs would have to be capable of calculating and filing sales and use taxes in all the states qualified under the Act.

-       Each state would have to relieve remote sellers from liability to the state or locality for incorrect collection, remittance, or noncollection of sales and use taxes, including any penalties or interest, if the liability is the result of an error or omission made by a CSP.

-       Each state would have to relieve CSPs from liability to the state or locality for the incorrect collection, remittance, or noncollection of sales and use taxes, including any penalties or interest, if the liability is the result of misleading or inaccurate information provided by a remote seller.

-       Each state would have to relieve remote sellers and CSPs from liability to the state or locality for incorrect collection, remittance, or noncollection of sales and use taxes, including any penalties or interest, if the liability is the result of incorrect information or software provided by the state.

-       Each state would have to provide remote sellers and CSPs with 90 days’ notice of a rate change by the state or any locality in the state and update the taxability and exemption information and rate and boundary databases, and would have to relieve any remote seller or CSP from liability for collecting sales and use taxes at the immediately preceding effective rate during the 90-day notice period if the required notice is not provided.

 

For non-SST member states, the location to which a remote sale is sourced would be the location where the item sold is received by the purchaser, based on the location indicated by instructions for delivery. When no delivery location is specified, the remote sale is sourced to the customer's address that is either known to the seller or, if not known, obtained by the seller during the transaction, including the address of the customer's payment instrument if no other address is available. If an address is unknown and a billing address cannot be obtained, the remote sale is sourced to the address of the seller from which the remote sale was made. SST member states would be required to comply with the sourcing provisions of the SST Agreement.

 

On March 22, 2013, the U.S. Senate voted 75-to-24 in favor of the concept of the Marketplace Fairness Act. The actual Marketplace Fairness Act was introduced in both chambers in February, but last week Senator Enzi, the sponsor of the Senate bill, offered an amendment to the 2014 Budget Resolution that would include insertion of the language of Marketplace Fairness in the budget. It was a largely symbolic tactic since the Budget Resolution itself will not become law, but by approving the amendment, the Senate has shown that there is broad, bipartisan support for the notion of requiring remote sellers to collect sales tax.

 

On May 6, 2013, the U.S. Senate passed the Marketplace Fairness Act with a 69-27 vote.

 

UPDATE: On September 18, 2013, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee released a set of seven principles that he believes any internet sales tax bill should meet.  The seven principles outlined by Goodlatte are tax relief, tech neutrality, no regulation without representation, simplicity, tax competition, states’ rights, and privacy rights.  For more details on the principles, click here to see the House Judiciary Committee’s press release.

 

We are continuing to track the activities of these bills.  We are also involved in planning efforts involving states and businesses regarding the potential implementation consequences of passage.  Watch for updates in the Sales Tax Compass as well as through our Twitter account and LinkedIn updates. 

 

The text of the bill passed by the Senate can be viewed here.

 

For an update on this news item, visit Senate Introduces Marketplace Fairness Act of 2015.

 

(H.R. 684 and S. 336, as introduced in Congress on February 14, 2013; S.743, as passed by the U.S. Senate on May 6, 2013)

(09/20/2013)

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