State Taxes Are Deceptively Simple & Endlessly Complicated

Imagine playing a game against an opponent who also makes all of the rules. An opponent that constantly changes the rules as the game is in-progress. Now imagine there are 50+ opponents. That is the multistate tax profession. That is what multistate corporations deal with every day.

Multistate tax laws are so complicated that businesses are set up to fail, to be exposed to audit assessments, to miss out on refunds due to expired statute-of-limitations, pushed to appeal assessments because of unreasonable positions by department audit divisions, and coerced to pay computer generated notices simply because the cost of fighting outweighs the benefit. Companies are forced to obtain elaborate accounting software, put procedures in place to comply, and hire experts to plan to minimize tax and mitigate the risk of exposure. The compliance burden for multistate businesses is overwhelming.

State statutes and regulations, court cases, rulings, internal audit division policies, etc. change daily. The constant change and lack of uniformity among the states produces unintended consequences. Even years later, after statutes or regulations have been in place and businesses have complied, states may choose to change the rules again (or sometimes they change their interpretation of the same rules without actually changing the rules). To complicate matters even worse, these changes may be imposed prospectively or retroactively; whichever has the least impact on the state's revenue. Consequently, taxpayers who have relied on the state's interpretation or challenged the state's interpretation, may owe additional tax or be unable to obtain refunds they deserve.

Strategic Research & Thought Leadership

LEVERAGE SALT'S mission is to help you find clarity for your state tax question and situation; to help companies avoid and resolve controversy; to build better tools for tax professionals; and to positively influence state tax policy.

LEVERAGE SALT does the projects that others don’t want to do or have time to do. The firm digs into court cases, rulings, statutes, regulations, audit assessments, transactions, etc. to identify opportunities, risks and tax policy that should be challenged. 

LEVERAGE SALT works with tax professionals and legislators to learn their perspective, and shed light on areas that are grey. 

The firm helps reduce unintended consequences of legislation and problems caused by actions taken or the lack thereof.

LEVERAGE SALT turns 'deep work’ into intelligence and tools that are practical. The firm communicates the application of complicated state tax authority into easy to understand terminology which allows clients to make informed decisions and act.

Need state tax answers?

Check out these FREE resources or contact Brian at; 804.855.4937.

1. Search This Site


900+ blog posts on a variety of state tax topics (blogging since 2009)

I was interviewed by Bloomberg BNA - see Bloomberg BNA's State Tax Blog - "Expert Insights:  Blogging, Creativity and Coping with SALT Celebrity" (May 14, 2013)


I have written 40+ articles throughout my career, including my column, "The SALT Effect" in Tax Analysts State Tax Notes.



Photo by Sensay/iStock / Getty Images

Need state tax thought leadership to build relationships and drive business?

The marketing departments of accounting firms are always looking for more content to promote the firm. More alerts, articles, whitepapers, etc. The problem is that firm professionals are so busy with client work that they don’t have time to dedicate to thought leadership. Yet, partners and clients are looking for alerts and tips from their accounting firms when developments happen. The Big 4 accounting firms are able to produce large volumes of timely developments because of their dedicated resources.

Consequently, LEVERAGE SALT helps non-big 4 accounting firms meet this need by either supplementing or serving as their state tax national tax office. As a ‘ghost writer,’ LEVERAGE SALT writes alerts, articles, whitepapers, presentations and blog posts.


    • Providing technical analysis of changing state tax laws which leads to the reporting of SALT developments to your firm, clients and the general public.
    • Regularly monitor SALT news and developments, and assist in determining which news should be reported.
    • Regularly drafting and editing SALT Alerts designed for external distribution that discuss and analyze tax developments, such as recent legislation, regulations and rulings, as well as SALT Alerts identifying refund and service opportunities for internal distribution.
    • Maintaining and developing a variety of SALT tools for your firm that cover such topics as apportionment, filing methods, FIN 48 developments and nexus.
    • Providing support for internal and external training programs, including webcasts, as well as special projects.
    • Assisting local office practitioners in conducting research and drafting memorandums or audit protests for clients.
    • Blog posts
    • Alerts
    • Articles or whitepapers
    • Written comments on proposed legislation
    • Customized legislation, court case, issue monitoring / interpretation / application for specific clients
    • Customized Alerts for specific clients 
    • Help-Desk / calls / e-mails, confirmation of research, common questions


    1. Developing and writing new California income tax and sales tax library (includes all sections, issues, topics)
    2. 50-state research project to update sections on "Consent to Be Taxed" related to composite returns and withholding for non-resident owners of partnerships
    3. 50-state research project to update sections on Net Operating Losses
    4. 50-state research project to provide additional clarification and analysis regarding the sourcing of services and intangible property; specifically, the application of market-based sourcing, and utilization of market sourcing methodology within costs-of-performance statutes and regulations
    5. 23-state research project to add additional insights and commentary on related party expense add-back provisions
    6. 50-state research project to analyze and document each state's treatment of Interest Charge Domestic International Sales Corporations (IC-DISCs)
    7. 50-state research project to identify and explain each state's throwback and throwout rules
    8. 50-state research project to clarify whether each state follows Joyce or Finnigan rule
    9. 50-state research project to provide technical instruction on each state's law regarding the taxpayer's ability to request, and the state's ability to impose, alternative apportionment
    10. 32-state research project to provide the technical details of each state's franchise tax regime
    11. 49-state plus NYC research project regarding each state's conformity with the Internal Revenue Code as it relates to mergers and acquisitions, changes in ownership, etc.


    LEVERAGE SALT serves as a subject matter expert for Bloomberg BNA Software's new state income tax modeling tool (BNA State Tax Analyzer) by performing research, providing state-by-state tax rules and technical review, comments, and suggestions for improvements. The project involves 50-state research to provide tax law support and guidance regarding the following for multiple tax years (1998 to current):

    1. Separate / Combined / Consolidated filing methods
    2. Pre or Post Combination 
    3. Apportionment methods and formula
    4. Federal income tax deduction 
    5. State income tax deduction / addback
    6. Bonus depreciation adjustments
    7. Estimated payment safe-harbors
    8. Tax rates
    9. Minimum taxes
    10. Net Operating Loss tracking and utilization
    11. Foreign Source Dividends
    12. Royalties
    13. Industry apportionment formulas (manufacturing, retail, financial organizations, insurance, transportation, oil/gas, telecommunications, etc.
    14. Mixed-industry combined reporting
    15. Franchise Tax
    16. IRC Sec. 382 Limitations on NOLs

    Need 'strategic research' to comply, mitigate risk or defend positions under audit?

    LEVERAGE SALT specializes in analyzing, interpreting and applying court cases, rulings, proposed and current legislation to multifaceted fact patterns in a variety of industries across all states. The research may be related to developing support for return filing positions, defending positions under audit, identifying refund opportunities or mitigating risk. The result of the research is customized to the client situation and may be a written memo, audit protest, taxability matrix, refund request, private letter ruling, etc. 

    Additionally, LEVERAGE SALT works with tax research publishers to write or review technical material to expand or build out their libraries, collaborates with tax policy organizations on policy statements, studies, articles, reports, comments and testimony, and partners with tax software companies to enhance or build new software tools for state tax compliance or planning.

    All services are provided for any state and the following tax types: income tax, franchise tax, gross receipts tax, sales and use tax.


    • Audit defense / Appeals representation (research, development and preparation of protest) 
    • Return filing position or taxability / deductibility memos
    • Planning memos related to changes in business, structure, activity, etc.
    • Documentation of state tax impact on business due to mergers and acquisitions
    • Research and support to file refund claims
    • Research and support to obtain a Voluntary Disclosure Agreement
    • Sales and Use Tax Decision Matrix Development and Maintenance
    • FIN 48 (uncertain state tax positions analysis and review) documentation
    • Private letter rulings
    • Written comments on proposed legislation
    • Help-Desk / calls / e-mails, confirmation of research, common questions
    • Customized legislation, court case, issue monitoring / interpretation / application
    • Litigation support (subcontractor to attorney)


    1. Obtained $550,000 sales tax refund related to client's intercompany management fee involving several different types of services in Pennsylvania
    2. Provided practical insight to client as to what positions they should take regarding the sales taxation of cloud computing by conducting 40-state research project and preparing custom matrix
    3. Technical support for client's creation/implementation of a custom sales ‘tax and fee’ engine (40 states)
    4. Multi-year review and analysis of client's sales tax exemption review process (20 states) to determine best practices and provide recommendations whether the client should continue, change or eliminate the current process
    5. Identified over $1,000,000 in state income tax refund opportunities and $300,000 in prospective annual state income tax savings while conducting a state income tax FIN 48 reserve analysis for a large middle-market company. These refund opportunities were identified in conjunction with the opportunity to utilize Voluntary Disclosure Agreements (VDAs) in multiple states to not only minimize the company's state income tax liability, but also reduce or eliminate the state income tax FIN 48 reserve.
    6. Identified $350,000 in refund opportunities and $100,000 in prospective annual state income tax savings while performing a state income tax nexus look-back review for a middle-market company.
    7. Eliminated $1,200,000 sales tax audit assessment by preparing and filing a written protest with the Minnesota appeals office regarding a "mixed-transaction" or "bundled transaction.”
    8. Obtained $500,000 reduction in sales tax audit assessment after client received a jeopardy assessment from Washington D.C.
    9. Reduced $1 million individual income tax assessment to $20,000 for an individual taxpayer in a Minnesota income tax residency audit
    10. Reduced client's income tax liability by 60% by petitioning and obtaining apportionment relief with Minnesota  appeals after audit assessment
    11. Mitigated risk and improved compliance for medical device manufacturer operating in 11 states by researching and providing guidance regarding the sales and use tax taxability of the company’s device
    12. Provided peace of mind to company regarding the sales tax consequences of its Internet/client portal, (“cloud computing”) etc. used to facilitate the delivery of their service
    13. Eliminated $1,300,000 in Washington B&O tax and $1,000,000 in sales tax on 9 real estate projects 
    14. Obtained $3,000,000 in Florida Enterprise Zone sales tax refunds on 4 real estate projects
    15. Obtained $1,000,000 in Arizona Transaction Privilege Tax refunds after performing reverse audits on Arizona real estate sales
    16. Obtained $300,000 in California LLC Fee refunds
    17. Reduced annual state income taxes by $500,000 for a $200 million Illinois manufacturer by developing restructuring plan for S corporations and pass-through entities 
    18. Identified and obtained a $700,000 refund and annual state tax savings of $150,000 for a $150 million Illinois manufacturer by applying P.L. 86-272
    19. Reduced sales tax audit assessment by $75,000 related to ‘canned vs. custom software’ in Minnesota