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Massachusetts

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Massachusetts recently joined a handful of other states (read: States over the Edge and Testing Boundaries with Business Activity Tax Nexus) by issuing a final revised regulation adopting a bright-line, $500,000, nexus threshold for its corporate excise tax. See generally 830 CMR 63.39.1. Echoing the language of the Wayfair decision, the state’s revised nexus regulation provides that “the Commissioner will presume that a general business corporation’s virtual and economic contacts subject the corporation to the tax jurisdiction of Massachusetts under M.G.L. c. 63, § 39, where the volume of the corporation’s Massachusetts sales for the taxable year exceeds five hundred thousand dollars.” 830 CMR 63.39.1(3)(d).

Six online retailers recently sued the Massachusetts Department of Revenue over the pre-Wayfair enforcement of regulation 830 CMR 64H.1.7 (“Remote Sales Tax Regulation”). The complaint argues that, prior to the Supreme Court’s decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., No. 17-494 (U.S. Jun. 21, 2018), the Remote Sales Tax Regulation violated the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the Internet Tax Freedom Act. On Due Process, the six online retailers argue the Remote Sales Tax Regulation places an undue burden on, and discriminates against, interstate commerce. The online retailers also argue that the Remote Sales Tax Regulation violates the Internet Tax Freedom Act’s prohibition of discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce.

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.

With the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“Tax Reform”) fully enacted, taxpayers and practitioners are racing to find last-minute planning opportunities prior to the new year, and states are looking for ways to assist their residents prospectively.  The most talked about planning opportunity, currently, is prepaying property taxes for 2018 to create a 2017 tax benefit around Section 11042(a)(6), which limits the state and local tax deduction to $10,000 beginning in 2018.  However, imprecise wording contained within Section 11042(a)(6) could feasibly be interpreted to permit a deduction for state and local income taxes as well – depending on how you read the provision.