In an order released in July 2021, the Illinois Tax Tribunal denied a taxpayer’s motion for summary judgment in a “unitary business” case, finding that there were disputed issues of fact as to whether the taxpayer was engaged in a unitary business with a company that the taxpayer sold. See Christopher v. Illinois Dep’t of Rev., 19 TT 131 (Ill. Tax Trib. Nov. 24, 2020, released July 2021). The taxpayer, T. Christopher Holding Company (“Holding Company”), claimed that it was not unitary with Vogue International, LLC (“Operating Company”), and thus its gain from the sale of Operating Company could not be included in Holding Company’s Illinois business income under U.S. constitutional principles and Illinois law. However, the Tribunal found that the Illinois Department of Revenue (“Department”) had presented sufficient evidence to establish a disputed issue of material fact that rendered summary judgment on this issue inappropriate.
Over the years, too many corporations doing business in Illinois have had the unfortunate experience of receiving a notice of delinquency from the Office of the Secretary of State of Illinois (the “Secretary of State”) demanding immediate payment of additional franchise tax, penalties, and interest. Not to be confused with the Illinois corporate income tax, which is administered by the Illinois Department of Revenue, the Illinois franchise tax is codified in the Business Corporate Act of 1983, 805 ILCS 5/1.01, et seq. (the “BCA”), and is administered by the Secretary of State. The franchise tax is considered a fee for the privilege and protections of “incorporation”, and therefore only applies to “corporations” and not other business entities (e.g., LLCs, LLP, GPs, etc.). The Illinois franchise tax base is measured by a corporation’s Illinois “paid-in capital” — meaning, funds generated by corporations by issuing stock, plus additional cash/equity contributed by shareholders.
On June 5, 2019, the Illinois legislature enacted Public Act 101-0009 which includes comprehensive amnesty programs covering taxes administered by both the Illinois Department of Revenue (the “Department”) and the Office of the Secretary of State of Illinois (the “Secretary of State”). Taxes covered by these programs include the corporate and individual income taxes, the Retailers’ Occupation Tax, the Use Tax, and the Illinois franchise tax. The amnesty programs run for the period October 1, 2019 through November 15, 2019, and, under both programs, 100% of penalties and interest will be waived in exchange for payment of any outstanding tax liability due. Unlike previous amnesty programs, taxpayers will not be punished for not participating — that is, Illinois will not impose double penalties and double interest on tax assessments issued after the amnesty period closes.
The Illinois legislature recently passed several tax related bills along with a budget. The tax changes are primarily reflected in Senate Bills 689 and 690. Governor Pritzker signed S.B. 689 on June 5, 2019 and is expected to sign S.B. 690 shortly. The following is a summary of some of the more significant tax changes applicable to businesses.