Lunch Links: Puerto Rico Moves Toward Default, South Dakota Internet Sales Tax Lawsuits, Ralph Lauren Outfits Taxable

May 2, 2016

Today is May 2, the anniversary of the first scheduled commercial flight of a jet aircraft in 1952. Not many taxes on commercial air flights then; today, a few more. Here are some interesting links I came across:

  • Puerto Rico Will Default on Government Development Bank Debt: The island has used the Bank as a financing mechanism, so the $422 million skipped payment doesn’t technically put Puerto Rico in default. That will happen by July 1, when $805 million in general obligation bonds are due. Puerto Rico owes a total of $70 billion with little possibility of paying it back. (Bloomberg)
  • Sales Tax Battle Breaks Out in South Dakota; Quill’s Last Stand?: The Quill decision of 1992 is what stops states from taxing Internet sales made by out-of-state sellers, unless states make sure sales tax compliance doesn’t harm interstate commerce. Justice Kennedy last year suggested Quill might need to be revisited, so South Dakota passed a law to go into effect May 1, and so someone has now sued. (McDermott Will & Emery)
  • Kansas House Rejects Bill to Roll Back Tax Exemption for Business Owners: The vote to repeal the problematic provision was 45 to 74, with many Democrats who want a larger tax increase joining Republicans determined to maintain the status quo. Over the weekend, the House voted to give Gov. Brownback greater discretion to make spending cuts. (Wichita Eagle / KAKE-TV)
  • Postman Steals $443,000 in Tax Refund Checks Along His Route: The New Jersey postal worker will face up to 15 years in prison in his sentencing on August 3. (Fox News)
  • Tax Court: Cost Of Ralph Lauren Salesman's Polo Wardrobe Was Not Tax Deductible: Ralph Lauren polo shirts aren’t deductible even if your employer makes you wear them because he federal tax code only lets you deduct work clothes if they aren’t suitable to wear outside of work. Otherwise we’d all deduct all our clothes, wouldn’t we? (Forbes / Tony Nitti)
  • Key Questions in IRS Plan to Notify Victims of SSN 'Borrowing': The IRS finally agrees to notify victims of identity theft from its systems starting in January 2017. But if you were a victim before that date, not so much. (Tax Notes)
  • Businesses Falsely Named as Carbon Tax Supporters: Vermont business owners were surprised when a reporter called to tell them they were listed as carbon tax supporters on the pro-carbon tax Energy Independent Vermont website. Some remember filling out a survey for canvassers; EIV says everyone listed signed up on their own. (Vermont Watchdog)
  • Irreplaceable Tax Maven Carole Vilardo Fought for Fairness: After 30 years of fighting for better tax policy as head of the Nevada Taxpayers Association, Carole is retiring with thanks and applause from across the political spectrum. (We’ve worked with Carole quite a bit and certainly agree.)
  • Kicking the Tyres: Kenya has slapped a punitive tax on all imported cars, but as its set at a flat rate, it especially impacts the purchase of used cars second-hand overseas. Required bribes to customs officers were already excessive. (The Economist)

If you’re in Missouri, millionaire Rex Sinquefield will be sharing his tax policy thoughts at a forum hosted by the Show-Me Institute on May 17. Indiana Senator Brandt Hershman tweets “Welcome to Indiana” to Illinois businesses facing a proposed 11.25 percent top tax rate. If you owe taxes to Alabama, they’re running a tax amnesty from June 30 to August 30. And if you’re interning in DC this summer, Greater Greater Washington offers tips for finding housing and getting around town.

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