Trade Show Visits Established Nexus in Washington

Trade show visits by employees of an out-of-state seller were sufficient to create nexus for purposes of Washington sales and use and business and occupation (B&O) taxes. For a period of at least seven years, the seller’s representatives made at least four visits per year to trade shows in Washington in which the company displayed its products, made contact with potential buyers, discussed its service model with potential buyers, and distributed its sales catalogs. No sales of merchandise were made at the trade show nor were any orders taken at the shows. The determination whether in-state activities create nexus looks to the entire collection of a taxpayer’s different activities, the totality of it which creates substantial nexus. The direct presence of the seller’s representatives at Washington trade shows was significantly associated with establishing or maintaining a market for the sales of its products in the state. The seller made sales over the Internet, by telephone, and by catalog. Orders were shipped from locations outside Washington to customers by common carrier. The Appeals Division noted that the state’s nexus standard is not whether the in-state activity directly solicits a sale, but, rather, whether the activity is “significantly associated with establishing or maintaining a market within this state.” Unlike some other states, Washington does not have a trade show exemption. This decision follows other earlier decisions where taxpayers not only attended trade shows but had other in-state activities. This decision clarifies that any activity associated with establishing or maintaining a market within Washington include a minimal number of visits will constitute nexus.(Tax Determination No. 14-0062, Washington Department of Revenue, August 28, 2014)

Posted on September 29, 2014