Taxpayers are always trying to obtain certainty regarding their tax issues. Unfortunately, it is not possible to achieve 100% certainty when the facts are complex and the state's rules are grey. Consequently, the taxpayer and adviser generally review all binding authority (statutes, regulations, cases, etc.) and unbinding authority (informal guidance, etc.) to develop support for a tax position. This is why we have the lovely 'levels of assurance' such as the 'realistic possibility of success' (33%), 'substantial authority' (40%), or 'more likely than not' (> 50%).
Depending on the situation, taxpayers are commonly balancing risk and the amount of dollars to spend to chase down this elusive certainty. Accordingly, taxpayers are trying to attain the most cost-effective and practical solution that reduces risk to an acceptable level. Thus, other factors (business, legal, financial) may determine how much effort is taken to support a specific tax position, resulting in some taxpayers choosing to default to paying more tax to avoid risk.
Bloomberg BNA released its 2015 Survey of State Tax Departments this week, which according to BBNA, clarifies each state’s position on the gray areas of corporate income tax and sales and use tax administration, with an emphasis on nexus policies.
BBNA has added new sections addressing income and sales tax nexus for registration with state agencies, as well as sales tax nexus for drop shipment transactions. The survey also has a new focus on each state’s rules for sourcing sales factor receipts for income tax purposes.
As I have stated in previous posts, surveys like this provide great insight into how a state will treat certain issues and fact patterns. The problem is that many answers provided by the state may not be based on actual statutes and regulations or court rulings. The answers may be based on internal policy or simply be an interpretation of a grey area (right or wrong). Regardless of the basis, the states' answers help a company formulate a conclusion.
You can download the report for FREE, just go here.