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.
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.
A Colorado district court held that Target Brands, Inc. (“TBI”), a subsidiary intangible holding company of Target Corporation (“Target”), had economic nexus with Colorado but the Department of Revenue (the “Department”) failed to use a reasonable alternative apportionment method when it assessed nearly $20 million in state corporate income tax for tax years 1999 through 2009 (the “Tax Years at Issue”). The case, Target Brands Inc. v. Department of Revenue, 2015CV33831, decided by the District Court of the City and County of Denver on January 27, 2017, highlights yet another example of aggressive economic nexus and alterative apportionment arguments of state revenue agencies to expand their revenue base by capturing income from out-of-state intangible holding companies.