Returning To The Office? Important Information To Understand Your State Tax Liabilities

When the pandemic first hit, many businesses were forced to transition to a remote working model for safety reasons. And many of those remote employees decided to move away from their “home state” for a variety of reasons. Now, businesses are starting to transition back to the office, with 50% of leaders saying their company already requires or is planning to require a return to in-person full time this year, according to a study from Microsoft. 

Whether you decide to bring your employees back to the office full time or just part time, what are the tax implications you should consider? Please note that this blog post won’t get into the state tax withholding, worker’s compensation or other payroll tax matters related to the employee directly. We focus here on how employees may create nexus (and filing responsibilities) for both state sales tax and income tax.

Taxation Issues Created By Remote Workers 

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30th Anniversary of Quill Decision: A Significant Nexus Ruling

On May 26, 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota (504 US 298). This was a significant nexus ruling modifying the earlier National Bellas Hess decision (386 US 753 (1967)). In Quill, the Court ruled that physical presence was not required for due process nexus but still required for commerce clause purposes.

That meant that Congress could modify the ruling since it controls the commerce clause, but not the due process clause. But that was difficult to do so states started finding ways to find physical presence. For example, we saw New York enact the so-called “Amazon” law where the state found a connection between certain affiliates in the state helping to sell a company’s products and receiving a commission.

Finally, another case got to the Court – Wayfair, and the Court concluded “that the physical presence rule of Quill is unsound and incorrect.” I think that makes sense as it did lead to odd results. For example, a company would have sales tax obligations for having an employee in a state even for a few days. But another company with more sales in the state has no sales tax obligations in the state becuase it was able to avoid physical presence in the state. In fact, Wayfair is a multi-billion dollar company that avoided physical presence in South Dakota. Yet, the company with hundreds of engineers could easily create a software program to collect sales tax from all customers and properly remit it to the appropriate states.

In Wayfair, the Court found that South Dakota’s new nexus rule where a vendor has sales tax obligations if it delivered over $100,000 of goods or services into the state during the year or had 200 or more transactions of in-state deliveries.

Quill is still cited in some cases. It has a role in nexus history which is something I’m working on writing an article about – for the 30th anniversary.

Let me know if you have any observations to share. Thanks.

Annette Nellen, San Jose State University

OECD Issues Model Rules On Nexus and Sourcing

On February 4, 2022, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (“OECD”) issued  model rules for nexus and revenue sourcing under Pillar One of the international tax agreement (the so-called “two-pillar solution”) signed last year by 137 countries, including the United States. As explained previously, Pillar One would allocate taxing rights over 25% of the residual profit of the most profitable MNEs to the countries where goods or services are used or consumed. The OECD anticipates that countries that are parties to the two-pillar solution will enact laws substantially similar to the model rules, while taking into account various requirements peculiar to their constitutional and legal systems.

The model rules would require that each transaction be categorized according to its “ordinary or predominant character,” based on the transaction’s substance rather than its legal form. The categories anticipated by the model rules include revenues from the sale of:

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Are Your Remote Employees Creating Nexus?

In a recent blog, we discussed how the 2018 South Dakota v. Wayfair decision has been significantly impactful in altering the sales and use tax implications in majority of the states. As our readers know, the term “nexus” indicates the amount of contact necessary by a company in order to be obligated to collect sales tax in a state. In order to impose a tax obligation, nexus must be created – either by physical presence (for instance, employees, contractors, an office, or inventory in the state) or because of economic nexus, which measures the minimum amount of sales revenue or transaction volume that creates nexus and differs from state to state.

Nexus in a COVID-19 Environment

As the pandemic has forced employees to work from their homes, is it time to take a look at how that might unexpectedly create nexus for companies? Do teleworkers indeed create nexus for the businesses during a pandemic? Do states provide any exception to the physical presence rule for sellers who usually work in one state (the company location) but live (and now work) in another as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?
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California Department Of Tax Fee Administration Amends its “Collection of Use” Tax Regulation (Part 2)

If you’ve been following along with our blogs, you know that we talked about some new amendments taking place under California Sales and Use Tax Regulation 1684, “Collection of Use Tax by Retailers”. In the first part of our blog, we discussed how California implemented on April 1, 2019 an economic nexus threshold for retailers in addition to the longstanding physical nexus threshold. The State now requires out of state sellers to register and collect use tax in California as soon as they exceed $500,000 of sales of tangible personal property in either the preceding or current calendar year.

In the first blog we focused on three examples from the amended regulation for when economic nexus would be triggered for an out-of-state retailer. In this second part of the blog we will talk about the circumstances that will allow out-of-state retailers to discontinue their obligation to collect and report use tax to California. In other words, when will California no longer require an out-of-state retailer to hold a Certificate of Registration – Use Tax and to collect and report use tax?
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Monika Miles

The state of California is at it again! But this time offering some relief for out of state sellers. In a continuing quest to require out of state sellers who created nexus as a result of engaging in programs like Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) to register and retroactively file in the state, CA has passed SB 92 and the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) has issued guidance. On July 1, 2019, the CDTFA issued Special Notice L-681 pertaining to Senate Bill 92 that discusses a special tax relief program. This program is only available for “qualifying retailers.”

Who Qualifies?

A “qualifying retailer” is a marketplace seller that meets certain requirements. Please note that all of the following conditions must be met:

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Monika Miles - What Is Nexus.

In the United States, the sales tax landscape has changed drastically due to the recent U.S. Supreme Court Case of South Dakota v. Wayfair (June 2018). Following this landmark decision which made it easier for companies to create nexus in states, many states have enacted legislation which establishes guidelines, thresholds for economic nexus. In a previous blog, we talked about this epic decision.

What is Economic Nexus?

In the past, companies needed to have physical presence, or “boots on the ground,” in a state in order to have nexus (or taxable presence) in a state. This meant that a company needed to have offices, inventory, employees, or contractors in a state for a certain amount of time. Companies now don’t necessarily need to have physical presence in a state for them to create nexus; they now can have nexus in a state by virtue of economic nexus. Economic nexus essentially means that companies with sales of a certain dollar amount or a certain number of transactions with a state are required to register, collect and remit sales tax. Some states require both criterion. Additionally, note that some states base their economic threshold on taxable sales, while other states mention gross sales.

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Monika Miles, SAAS And Cloud Computing And Taxes

When it comes to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies, there’s often confusion regarding both nexus and the taxability of this revenue stream.

And while the recent Wayfair decision seems like it’s directed only at online sellers, traditional multi-state sellers (including those that generate revenue from SaaS and software) will also be affected, as nexus will be easier to establish. Once it is established – either by traditional physical presence or by sales volume, then companies will need to consider the taxability rules of SaaS in each state in which they have nexus.

Is SaaS even taxable? Because SaaS and cloud computing doesn’t always clearly fall into existing tax definitions, different states interpret its taxability in different ways. Some regard it as similar to electronically downloaded software, while others consider it a service, which may be taxable or not. And what about electronically downloaded software? Is it treated differently from SaaS?

This series will take a look at how key states in various regions of the country interpret SaaS, cloud computing and electronically downloaded software within their different state tax statutes. First up, the “Western” states: CaliforniaUtah and Washington!

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Over the last few years, Washington has taken an interesting approach to its nexus and state tax law. Back in 2015, it adopted a click-through statute and economic nexus thresholds for businesses making sales in the state. Washington currently has a few other interesting bills up for debate, but in the meantime the Department of Revenue (DOR) enacted another piece of legislation that affects economic nexus. Read More

There is a new scheduled amnesty program that may help businesses correct overlooked tax obligations if they have been selling products and services in other states. Many companies engage in multi-state sales through an intermediary, like Amazon, eBay and similar organizations called “fulfillment services.” The fulfillment centers place a seller’s inventory in warehouses in multiple states to expedite shipping, but in the process, create nexus for the seller in those states. As such, the sellers have an obligation to collect sales tax and pay income tax. Unfortunately, unpaid taxes may incur penalties and interest. Now there may be a short time window to correct these errors and avoid interest and penalties. Read More

What do cookies, nexus and online sales tax have to do with each other? States are continuing to look for ways to justify charging sales tax to internet retailers; Ohio just took a page out of Massachusetts’ book.

Massachusetts’ Online Sales Tax Directive 17-1

A couple of weeks ago we shared that Massachusetts created a directive that redefined nexus to include internet cookies, Read More

Peter Scalise

Motion Picture and Television Production Tax Incentives (hereinafter “MPIs”) are tax incentives that are available at the U.S. Federal Level, at most of the U.S. Multi-State Levels, and on a Global Level through nearly a hundred participating countries worldwide and should certainly be incorporated into the tax planning process for movie and television studios to properly tax affect their costs of production.  Read More