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Digital adsMaryland recently enacted the nation’s first tax on digital advertising.  The new tax, the Digital Advertising Gross Revenues Tax (the “Tax”), became law on February 12, 2021. 

The Tax has been surrounded by controversy from the very moment it was introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates.  In fact, a lawsuit to prevent the Comptroller of the Treasury of Maryland from enforcing the Tax was recently filed by a group of affected taxpayers.

cat jumpingOregon State Senator Fred Girod, a Republican from Stayton, Oregon (District 9), is sponsoring Senate Bill 787 ("SB 787").  If passed, SB 787 would repeal the Oregon Corporate Activity Tax (the "CAT").  So far, the bill does not appear to have much momentum behind it, but time will tell.

Cats have a "righting reflex," allowing them to twist in midair if they fall from a high place so that they can land upright on their feet.  Because of this uncanny ability to potentially avoid disaster, it is often said cats have nine lives.  Well, the CAT has avoided death in the Oregon Legislature already on a number of occasions.  The question is whether the CAT can avoid another attempt to repeal it once and for all.

Senator Girod is a strong advocate for making a quality college education affordable for all students.  He is not, however, a friend of the CAT.  SB 787 is aimed at killing the CAT.

FacesIt is not unreasonable to anticipate that there will be a federal tax policy transformation following a change in the political control of the White House, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.  What may be unreasonable, however, is making knee-jerk tax planning decisions in anticipation of possible modifications to the Internal Revenue Code (the "Code").  Reactionary planning, unless it is well thought out and is based upon sound business judgment, could end up being disastrous.  During the present times, tax advisors and their clients need to be cautious in their tax planning and any related decision-making.   

Looking through a lens solely focused on federal taxation, it seems that commentators, tax advisors and taxpayers alike are all worried about the future.  Possible tax policy changes on the horizon that are being bantered about include:

Season's Greetings2020 has been a rough year for all of us.  We have experienced personal loss, social unrest, economic challenges and significant limitations on personal interaction.  While the impacts of these conditions may manifest themselves differently in each of us, we have all been faced with some of the loftiest challenges we had ever likely encountered.  It is my sincere hope that with the COVID-19 vaccines recently approved by the Federal Drug Administration, we will return to some sort of normalcy in 2021.

It is a good time for us all to focus on the blessings in our lives.  One of the many blessings in my life was the opportunity of education.  It was not exactly given to me.  I had to work to pay for my education – many times working multiple jobs simultaneously – but the fact that a fine, quality education was available to me is a huge blessing.  Along the way, during college, law school and post-law school studies in taxation, I had the fortune of having terrific mentors.  One of my mentors, Professor David Richardson (now a retired professor and Chair of the Graduate Tax Program at the University of Florida College of Law), advised me that once I entered the practice of law, I had a duty to the profession to share the wealth of knowledge that I had been so fortunate enough to attain from my studies and that I would attain in my law practice.  That statement from Professor Richardson resonated strongly with me and has continuously been at the forefront of my career goals.

GiftThe Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021

In a bipartisan effort, H.R. 133-116th Congress: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the "Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021") overwhelmingly passed both the House and the Senate on December 21, 2020.  It is now on President Trump's desk awaiting his signature.   

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which spans almost 6,000 pages, once signed into law, will bring holiday cheer to many.  The new law includes a huge variety of provisions aimed at assisting individuals and businesses during this time of need.  One provision in particular is aimed at curing a wrong created by the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") in Notice 2020-32.  

Introduction

woman holding door using old knockOn November 2, 2015, the Bipartisan Budget Act (“Act”) was signed into law by President Barack Obama.  One of the many provisions of the Act significantly impacted: (i) the manner in which entities taxed as partnerships are audited by the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”); and (ii) who is required to pay the tax resulting from any corresponding audit adjustments.  The new rules sprung into life for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017. 

TeleworkIn the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, companies in wide-ranging industries across the country have unprecedented numbers of employees working from remote locations.  In a prior post, we discussed numerous issues that may arise from this new normal of teleworking, including tax, labor and employment, liability, and business registration implications. 

In this post, we drill down a bit further with respect to employers’ state tax reporting and payment obligations that may result from having employees working remotely in states other than where the employers maintain physical offices.  This is especially relevant in metropolitan areas that straddle multiple states, like here in Portland, Oregon.

CupcakeIt was one year ago today that two esteemed law firms based out of the Pacific Northwest merged to form Foster Garvey PC.  After going at it alone for a combined era that spanned more than 170 years, Garvey Schubert Barer, PC and Foster Pepper PLLC joined forces.  As a result, a full-service law firm of more than 150 attorneys with offices in Seattle, Portland, Washington, D.C., New York, Spokane and Beijing, China, emerged.

Shortly after the merger, the COVID-19 pandemic hit all people across the globe.  Then, social unrest throughout the United States joined the center stage, with continuing protests and riots occurring in almost every major city.  Most recently, wildfires of historic magnitude hit the Pacific Northwest.  On top of all of these life challenges, the attorneys and staff of Foster Garvey PC worked hard to maintain a focus on serving clients and our communities, as well as integrating the people and systems of two organizations.

WildfiresWhen we thought times were bad enough with the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread social unrest in our country, the West Coast, including the Pacific Northwest, was struck with unprecedented wildfires and massive windstorms, taking lives, destroying property and rendering the air quality throughout the region unhealthy.  On September 16 and 17, the Internal Revenue Service announced good news for many taxpayers residing in Oregon. 

In News Release OR-2020-23 and News Release IR-2020-215, the IRS announced that, due to the wildfires and windstorms striking Oregon, the deadline for certain Oregonians to file returns and make tax payments will be extended to January 15, 2021.

Shot clockMore than six months into the coronavirus pandemic, and approximately four months since the IRS issued Notice 2020-32, it is looking increasingly likely that taxpayers will not be permitted to deduct business expenses funded with Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loan proceeds that are ultimately forgiven.  It is terribly late in the game not to have finality on the issue, especially with the third quarter 2020 estimated tax payments due on September 15 (next week).     

Background

As we previously discussed, PPP loans authorized by the CARES Act may be forgivable, in whole or in part, if taxpayers use the proceeds for qualifying expenses (namely, payroll, benefits, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities).  Unlike other debt that is forgiven, PPP loan amounts forgiven pursuant to the CARES Act do not constitute cancellation of debt income.

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Larry J. Brant
Editor

Larry J. Brant is a Shareholder in Foster Garvey, a law firm based out of the Pacific Northwest, with offices in Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C.; New York, New York, Spokane, Washington; and Beijing, China. Mr. Brant practices in the Portland office. His practice focuses on tax, tax controversy and transactions. Mr. Brant is a past Chair of the Oregon State Bar Taxation Section. He was the long-term Chair of the Oregon Tax Institute, and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Portland Tax Forum. Mr. Brant has served as an adjunct professor, teaching corporate taxation, at Northwestern School of Law, Lewis and Clark College. He is an Expert Contributor to Thomson Reuters Checkpoint Catalyst. Mr. Brant is a Fellow in the American College of Tax Counsel. He publishes articles on numerous income tax issues, including Taxation of S Corporations, Reasonable Compensation, Circular 230, Worker Classification, IRC § 1031 Exchanges, Choice of Entity, Entity Tax Classification, and State and Local Taxation. Mr. Brant is a frequent lecturer at local, regional and national tax and business conferences for CPAs and attorneys. He was the 2015 Recipient of the Oregon State Bar Tax Section Award of Merit.

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