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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)


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.


Effective January 1, 2016 and first applicable to contracts entered into on or after January 1, 2016, Wisconsin has created a sales and use tax exemption for tangible personal property and other items purchased by a contractor who transfers the property to an exempt local government entity or nonprofit organization when fulfilling a real property construction activity. To qualify for the exemption, the purchased property must become a component of a facility in Wisconsin that is owned by the exempt entity or organization. For purposes of the exemption, "facility" means any building, shelter, parking lot, parking garage, athletic field, athletic park, storm sewer, water supply system, or sewerage and waste water treatment facility, but does not include a highway, street, or road. (Act 126 (S.B. 227), Laws 2015, effective January 1, 2016, and first applicable to contracts entered into on January 1, 2016)


Wisconsin has updated a news release detailing the sales tax treatment of educational services, tangible books and videos; and digital books and videos. Charges for live in-person educational services and live digital online educational services, including charges for mandatory educational materials, are exempt from sales and use tax. Educational service providers must pay tax on purchases of mandatory educational materials provided incidentally with nontaxable educational services. Tangible books and videos are taxable unless a specific exemption applies, and there is no exemption for sales of educational products. Certain digital goods - including digital audio works, digital audiovisual works, and digital books - are taxable unless a specific exemption applies. Prerecorded webinars are generally taxable as digital goods, regardless of whether the webinar is downloaded or viewable streaming online. Digital goods are exempt if they would be exempt when sold in tangible form. Since sales of tangible videos are taxable, the sale of a prerecorded webinar is also taxable. Sales of a digital good such as a prerecorded webinar may be exempt if the purchaser is receiving an educational service, and the digital good is transferred incidentally to the service. There are specific requirements that must be met for this to qualify. In a bundled transaction - when taxable and nontaxable products, goods or services are sold for one non-itemized price - and the value of the taxable products or services is 10% or more, the entire sales price is generally taxable in Wisconsin. However, sellers can report and remit tax on the taxable portion of the sales price if they can show in their books and records the portions of the sales price that are attributable to the taxable and nontaxable products or services. The bundled transaction rules do not apply when a product such as a digital good is transferred incidentally in connection with a service.(News for Tax Professionals—Sales Tax Treatment of Educational Products, Goods, and Services, Wisconsin Department of Revenue, April 7, 2016)



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