State Tax Simplicity and Uniformity

I wrote the following in a blog post back in 2009. As I was re-reading it this morning, it dawned on me that several of the items I mentioned still apply in 2016. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Side Note: PwC just released a nice document entitled, "2015 Year-End State Tax Review and A look Ahead to 2016 and Beyond."

Simplicity and Uniformity

The terms "simplicity" and "uniformity" are not usually discussed in the same breath as state and local tax. With all of the taxing jurisdictions in the United States (when you include all of the states, cities, and counties, etc.), there is very little uniformity, and nothing seems simple.

With that said, I think the states are starting to act in a uniform manner which, in some sense, is creating simplicity. What do I mean?

Well, during the first four months of this year it appears that most, if not all, states are experiencing the following:

1. Budget and financial difficulties of historical proportions

2. All tax revenues are down, including: income tax, sales tax, property tax, etc.

3. Proposing or passing legislation that closes loopholes, raises taxes or creates new taxes, and attempts to encourage in-state economic development.

4. Proposing or passing legislation enacting new minimum fees or taxes.

5. Proposing or enacting legislation to adopt combined reporting, single-sales factor apportionment, market-based sourcing of revenue from service activities instead of the past cost-of-performance rules, adopting economic nexus and "amazon" type nexus, etc.

6. Proposing or enacting "amnesty" programs to encourage delinquent taxpayers to step-forward and pay back-taxes with the benefit of penalties waived (and interest decreased, in some cases).

7. Adopting language that treats all income as "business income," as much as the U.S. Constitution allows.

8. Adopting similar language in regards to what is considered to be a "unitary group."

9. Adopting or proposing legislation that accelerates the payment of tax revenue to the taxing jurisdiction by either increasing the % paid with each quarterly estimated payment, and/or requiring non-resident withholding to be paid quarterly instead of annually.

10. Increasing interest rates and penalties for late payment of taxes.

I am sure there is more, but these are my top ten (for the moment).


In summary, the world of state and local tax has always been a world that changes daily or continually, due to court cases and legislative developments.

In 2009, the state and local tax world feels like it is changing at a whirl-wind pace with the only simplicity and uniformity being created is that soon, everything will be taxable, and penalties and interest will be a revenue stream of their own (if they weren't already).