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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.


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)


Minnesota has enacted a number of sales and use tax nexus amendments, including marketplace nexus and affiliate nexus provisions. The state has amended the definition of "retailer maintaining a place of business in this state" to include a retailer who has storage in Minnesota, employs a Minnesota resident who works from a home office in Minnesota, has a marketplace provider or other third party operating in Minnesota under the retailer’s authority for any purpose, including facilitating and processing sales. A retailer is represented by a marketplace provider in Minnesota if the retailer makes sales in Minnesota facilitated by a marketplace provider that maintains a place of business in Minnesota.


”Marketplace provider“ means any person who facilitates a retail sale by a retailer by: 


  • listing or advertising for sale by the retailer in any forum, taxable tangible personal property, services, or digital goods that are subject to tax under this chapter; and
  • either directly or indirectly through agreements or arrangements with third parties collecting payment from the customer and transmitting that payment to the retailer regardless of whether the marketplace provider receives compensation or other consideration in exchange for its services. 


A retailer with total taxable retail sales to customers in Minnesota of less than $10,000 in the 12-month period ending on the last day of the most recently completed calendar quarter is not required to collect and remit sales tax if it is determined to be a retailer maintaining a place of business in the state solely because it made sales through one or more marketplace providers. This provision does not apply to a retailer that is or was registered to collect sales and use tax in Minnesota.


A marketplace provider will be required to collect and remit sales and use taxes for all facilitated sales for a retailer, and will be subject to audit on the retail sales it facilitates unless either: 


  • the retailer provides a copy of the retailer's registration to collect sales and use tax in Minnesota to the marketplace provider before the marketplace provider facilitates a sale; or
  • upon inquiry by the marketplace provider or its agent, the commissioner discloses that the retailer is registered to collect sales and use taxes in this state. 


A marketplace provider will not be liable for failure to file and collect and remit sales and use taxes if the marketplace provider demonstrates that the error was due to incorrect or insufficient information given to the marketplace provider by the retailer. This does not apply if the marketplace provider and the marketplace retailer are related parties.


Nexus is also established if a retailer who is a remote seller has an entity perform duties on its behalf which is considered affiliate nexus.  Common ownership is not required. An entity is considered an affiliate of a retailer for nexus purposes if the entity:


  • has the same or a similar business name as the retailer and sells, from a location or locations in Minnesota, taxable tangible personal property, digital goods, or services that are similar to those sold by the retailer;
  • maintains an office, distribution facility, salesroom, warehouse, storage place, or other similar place of business in Minnesota to facilitate the delivery of tangible personal property, digital goods, or services sold by the retailer to its customers in Minnesota;
  • maintains a place of business in Minnesota and uses trademarks, service marks, or trade names in Minnesota that are the same or substantially similar to those used by the retailer, and that use is done with the express or implied consent of the holder of the marks or names;
  • delivers, installs, or assembles tangible personal property in Minnesota, or performs maintenance or repair services on tangible personal property in Minnesota, for tangible personal property sold by the retailer;
  • facilitates the delivery of tangible personal property to customers of the retailer by allowing the customers to pick up tangible personal property sold by the retailer at a place of business the entity maintains in Minnesota; or
  • shares management, business systems, business practices, or employees with the retailer, or engages in intercompany transactions with the retailer related to the activities that establish or maintain the retailer’s market in Minnesota.


Additionally, the requirement that, in order to be considered affiliated entities, the retailer and entity must be related parties is repealed.


The marketplace and affiliate nexus amendments are effective on the earlier of July 1, 2019, or the date of a U.S. Supreme Court decision modifying its decision in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, so that a state may require retailers without a physical presence in the state to collect and remit sales tax. However, if a federal law is enacted authorizing a state to impose a requirement to collect and remit sales tax on retailers without a physical presence in the state, the Commissioner of Revenue must enforce the nexus amendments to the extent allowed under federal law. (Ch. 1 (H.F. 1 a), First Special Session, Laws 2017)


On April 27, 2017, a bipartisan group of senators introduced the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2017 (MFA). Similar legislation was introduced in both 2013 and 2015 and failed to be enacted both times. If enacted, the legislation 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. The small seller exception is set again at $1 million of remote sales annually. The only other significant change from the 2015 version is a prohibition of making the effective date during the 4th quarter of the calendar year. For information on the previous versions of the bill, visit Senate Introduces Marketplace Fairness Act of 2015.  


On April 27, 2017, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the Remote Transactions Parity Act (RTPA) of 2017. Similar legislation was introduced in 2015 but failed to be enacted. Like the MFA, the legislation would also create sales and use tax collection obligations for remote sellers, but has some differences and additional provisions. Some key differences from the Marketplace Fairness Act include a different definition of a small seller.  The RTPA has a phased in threshold starting at $10million in year one, then $5million, then $1million.  In year 4, there is no threshold.  In addition to the monetary thresholds, any seller that sells on an electronic marketplace is considered a small seller.  A difference from the 2015 version of the bill is an inclusion of a definition of remote seller which specifies when a company is NOT a remote seller which includes physical presences for more than 15 days in a state, leasing or owning real property and using an agent to establish or maintain the market in a state if the agent does not perform business services in the state for any other person during the taxable year.  For more information on the Remote Transaction Parity Act of 2015, visit House Introduces Remote Transactions Parity Act of 2015. (Marketplace Fairness Act of 2017, Remote Transactions Parity Act of 2017)


On August 25, 2016, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte released a discussion draft of the Online Sales Simplification Act of 2016. The legislation would implement a “hybrid origin” approach for remote sales. Under the legislation, states could impose sales tax on remote sales if the origin state participates in a clearinghouse.In this case, the tax is based on the origin state’s baseand taxability rules. The rate would be the origin state rate, unless the destination state participates. In that case, the rate used would be a single state-wide rate determined by each participating destination state. A remote seller would only remit sales tax to its origin state for all remote sales. Only the origin state would be able to audit a seller for remote sales. Non-participating states would not be able to receive distributions from the clearinghouse. Sellers would be required to provide reporting for remotes sales into participating states to the Clearinghouse so it can distribute the tax to the destination state. We will continue to monitor activity and update when the official bill is introduced.  (Discussion draft of Online Sales Simplification Act of 2016)



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