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States continue to provide relief in response to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  This week, numerous states responded to the federal income tax filing extension, and we expect additional states to respond in the coming days.  Some states are also offering relief for non-income business taxes, and much of the relief is limited to small- to mid-size businesses.  Furthermore, COVID-19 is causing complications in property tax assessments, payments, and appeals.

The World Health Organization has officially declared the coronavirus outbreak to be a pandemic. In addition to the cost on human life, the rapid spread of COVID-19 has left a trail of economic damage affecting business revenues. COVID-19 has caused complete or partial shutdown of factories, supply chain disruptions, and labor shortages, and has impacted demand in certain industries. This impact will also be felt by U.S. state, and local governments.

Baker McKenzie attended the U.S. Supreme Court’s oral arguments yesterday in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Docket No. 17-494.  At issue in the case is whether the Court should abrogate the physical presence nexus standard that it first articulated in National Bellas Hess v. Dep’t of Revenue, 386 U.S. 753 (1967), and later affirmed in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298 (1992).  The Court’s decision could have a profound impact on sales and use tax nexus in the United States by altering the limitations currently imposed on a state’s ability to require out-of-state retailers to collect such tax.

State efforts to undermine or challenge the Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298 (1992) physical presence standard escalated this summer with the enactment of two sales and use tax laws targeting marketplace operators. Minnesota House File 1 (“H.F. 1”) and Washington House Bill 2163 (“H.B. 2163”), signed into law on May 30, 2017 and July 7, 2017, respectively, impose sales and use tax obligations on certain marketplaces that facilitate the sales of out-of-state third party retailers.  Minnesota and Washington are the first two states to enact such laws, and similar legislation is currently pending in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.