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.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2315, the Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act of 2015 (“Mobile Workforce Act” or “Act”), on September 21, 2016. The Senate received the House-approved bill on September 22, 2016, and its ultimate fate remains unclear.