Washington legislators may introduce a digital advertising tax bill in the state’s upcoming legislative session. See H-0028.1 (advance copy; not yet introduced). Washington’s potential legislation is the latest in a recent trend of digital advertising tax proposals (including in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Nebraska, New York, and West Virginia, none of which have become law as of the date of this blog post).
New York lawmakers recently introduced two bills to expand the application of the New York State False Claims Act (“FCA”). The first intends to require the FCA to apply to non-filers, the second to remove the scienter element (i.e., no longer imposing a “knowing” requirement). Although both bills are retroactive and concerning, removing the scienter element should put all businesses on high alert as enforcement of the tax laws could now be in the hands…
In City & County of San Francisco v. All Persons Interested in the Matter of Proposition C, Dkt. A158645 (Cal. App., June 30, 2020), the California Court of Appeal upheld Proposition C—a voter initiative that created a new local business tax in San Francisco. The court upheld the initiative that was enacted by a simple majority of electors. This ruling answers a question that was been heavily debated since the California Supreme Court’s decision in California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland, 3 Cal. 5th 924 (Cal. 2017). That is, do special taxes proposed by voter initiative require a supermajority of voters to pass? This decision expressly narrows the supermajority requirement to only those tax measures proposed directly by local governments and will likely trigger more tax initiatives proposed and passed by citizen groups.
Several states continue to move forward with the taxation of digital advertising and new tax proposals have entered the fray. We last updated you on the attempts by Maryland, Nebraska, and New York. Nebraska had a hearing on its sales tax bill in February, with relatively little movement after that. In contrast, Maryland and New York have continued their move towards imposing taxes on digital advertising in some form and West Virginia has entered the mix.