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.
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).
State efforts to undermine or challenge the Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298 (1992) physical presence standard escalated this summer with the enactment of two sales and use tax laws targeting marketplace operators. Minnesota House File 1 (“H.F. 1”) and Washington House Bill 2163 (“H.B. 2163”), signed into law on May 30, 2017 and July 7, 2017, respectively, impose sales and use tax obligations on certain marketplaces that facilitate the sales of out-of-state third party retailers. Minnesota and Washington are the first two states to enact such laws, and similar legislation is currently pending in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
President Trump and Congressional Republicans appear eager to move onto federal tax reform given their recent failed attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. But, enacting the first major overhaul to the Internal Revenue Code since the Tax Reform Act of 1986 will be no small task, especially considering that the proposed legislation greatly differs in its effects on corporate taxpayers.