In an era of ever-expanding state tax bases, there are two new legislative proposals in Maryland (SB 2) and Nebraska (LB 989) that seek to either extend a current tax base (in the case of Nebraska, the sales tax base) or create a new tax (in the case of Maryland) to capture digital advertising revenues. The Maryland tax also signals a continued trend toward nuanced gross-receipts-type taxes. If a tax targeting digital advertising services sounds familiar, that is because the Ohio Department of Taxation attempted to extend the Ohio sales tax to digital advertising services in 2016 (though this extension was rejected by the Ohio Legislature’s enactment of an exemption from the sales tax for digital advertising services later that same year).
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.
On June 12, 2017, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) reintroduced into Congress H.R. 2887, also known as the “No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017” (the “Legislation”), which codifies the physical presence nexus requirement established by the U.S. Supreme Court in Quill v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298 (1992) (“Quill”). The Legislation is interesting for several reasons: (1) it proposes to employ a result that is the exact opposite of the recent trend to overturn Quill; (2) it defines “tax” broadly to include net income and business activity taxes; and (3) it expands the law to require a physical presence for states to regulate a person’s activity in interstate commerce outside of the tax context.
Baker McKenzie’s SALT practice secured a win for Leadville Insurance Company (“Leadville”) in Maryland Tax Court. The Court ruled in favor of Leadville on its Motion for Summary Judgment and held that the Comptroller’s assessment of Maryland corporate income tax on Leadville was in error. Leadville Insurance Co. v. Comptroller of the Treasury, Case No. 13-IN-OO-0035 (Md. Tax Ct. Mar. 30, 2017). The Court found that Leadville, a Vermont insurance company with interest income from an affiliate with Maryland operations, was not subject to Maryland corporate income tax.