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Economic Nexus

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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).

Wayfair has, for now, answered the question (at least, in part) of whether economic activity creates substantial nexus under the Commerce Clause for purposes of sales and use taxes. However, questions remain regarding whether and to what extent business activity tax nexus standards could be impacted. While states had boldly asserted economic nexus in the business activity tax context pre-Wayfair, the response since has been somewhat muted, until recently. Three states, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin, have recently sought to fill in the blanks with regard to business activity tax nexus, with varied and inconsistent results that may raise more questions and concerns than answers.

Following several failed attempts by Oregon voters and the Oregon legislature to pass a gross receipts tax (see Not Dead Yet: Oregon Voters Propose Another Gross Receipts Tax in the Wake of Market-Based Sourcing and Oregon Proposes “Gross” New Tax),  Governor Kate Brown signed Enrolled House Bill 3427, Oregon’s corporate activity tax (CAT), into law on May 16, 2019.

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.