IRS Associate Chief Counsel: Partnerships Tough to Audit 

With the number of businesses that are classified as partnerships on the rise, the IRS has had to confront new challenges to its policies for these entities—all amid an environment of dwindling budgetary resources, Curtis G. Wilson, the service’s associate chief counsel, said.

Scoring a victory for CPAs in New York City 

After two years of discussion and negotiation with the New York City Tax Commission, the NYSSCPA’s Real Estate Committee has succeeded in getting the city to modify a key real estate form—TC309, Accountant’s Certification—and make it compliant with generally accepted auditing standards (GAAS).

NYSSCPA Weighs in on NYSDFS ‘BitLicense’ Proposal

Though the NYSSCPA supports a proposal from the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYSDFS) that would govern the transfer and use of virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, among financial intermediaries, it called on the agency to address ambiguities in the language that the Society said would cause confusion, and work to better align the plan with existing processes. The Society weighed in on the matter in October with a comment letter written by members of its Virtual Currency Task Force.

IRS: Treat Bitcoins As Property, Not Currency

In a notice released on March 25, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) clarified its position on digital currencies such as Bitcoin, declaring that such mediums of exchange should not be counted as currency for tax purposes, but should, instead, be treated as property.

Five Facts to Know About Bitcoin

The past few years have seen an explosion of online virtual currencies, the oldest and most popular of which is Bitcoin. Unlike traditional mediums of exchange such as dollars, pounds and yen, Bitcoins are linked to no one nation, are not regulated by a central bank and transactions that use them are not processed by an intermediary financial institution.

Feared PFIC Regs Get New Twist

On Dec. 30, 2013, the IRS released Temporary Regulation 1.1298-1T under IRC Section 1298(f) dealing with the complicated and troublesome rules surrounding passive foreign investment companies (PFICs). These new regulations require certain U.S. taxpayers who own shares in PFICs to report information about their investments on an enhanced Form 8621. The rules also have a complex history, and CPAs practicing in the international arena should pay close attention to the fine print.

NYSSCPA Session Focuses on ACA Details

The Affordable Care Act is always making news, whether because of court challenges or technology issues. But getting relatively little attention have been the details of how it works—who needs to sign up and how, what subsidies are available and the costs and variations among the plans. Daniel G. Mazzola, CPA, CFA, a member of the NYSSCPA Personal Financial Planning Committee, took a step to rectify this in a Feb. 11 presentation for CPAs titled, "How Will The Affordable Care Act Affect Me?"

Landmark Gaied Residency Case Is Reversed; Gaied Lawyer Weighs In

New York's Gaied case has become a sort of standard in residency taxation—it's the  case that other guidance and disputes are compared with when lawyers and accountants try to answer the multilayered question: what does the state mean by "permanent place of abode"?  Final guidance on this question may be coming, however, thanks to a recent ruling from the New York Court of Appeals

Sales Tax Guidance for 'Mad Men'

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance recently stepped into the world of Don Draper, the troubled creative genius in the TV show "Mad Men," with guidance on sales, purchases and other financial issues affecting advertising agencies. In Tax Bulletin TB-ST-10, issued earlier this month, the department clarified what advertising products and services are taxable—the difference between taxable and nontaxable transactions can be subtle.

State Finds Subtleties in Nonprofit Tax Query

Among other things, the recent passing of New York's Nonprofit Revitalization Act may have focused attention on a wide variety of special tax issues charitable entities have to address. There are a lot of complex laws and rules, as highlighted in the recently released Advisory Opinion TSB-A-14(4)S. As noted in the opinion, CPAs working with or for certain nonprofits have to ask themselves if they're offering restaurant suppers or fundraising suppers—the tax department treats them differently.

Time to Brush Up on College Tax Credits and Deductions

Ask any accountant what time it is, and you'll hear "tax season."  But ask a the parent of a college-bound high school senior, and the answer will be "financial aid season." Fortunately, the two answers blend, as colleges demand information from the tax returns—and even the returns themselves—in order to calculate financial aid. Now is the time for CPAs and clients to work together on college funding, and New York is giving timely help with a recently updated page on college tuition credits.

NYS Tax Dept. Finds Itself at Sea with Sales Tax

When you buy certain items or services, sales and use taxes are due—that's pretty straightforward. But what if you buy something that moves, not just when you purchase it, but continually throughout its existence. That was the question before the Office of Counsel in Advisory Opinion TSB-A-14(5)S. The petitioner is a New York company purchasing a commercial ship, and it wanted to know if the ship's time spent in New York waters determined whether its purchase was subject to sales tax.

Residency Issues: It's Not Just about Homes

Most residency taxation issues appear to be about where a dual-household taxpayer really lives, but that's not the only possible problem. In Advisory Opinion TSB-A-13(9)I, the state addressed the question of where the income comes from, specifically when it's an insurance payout. The answer proved to be particularly complex, and especially illustrative of the state tax department's insights.

Check-Off Funds May Languish, According to Comptroller Report

On New York state tax returns, filers can check one or more boxes to donate money for wildlife management, breast cancer research, volunteer firefighters or five other causes. Did you ever wonder where that money actually went? State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli did, and as noted in a recent report, he wasn't entirely happy with what he found.

State Makes Tough Tax Decision on Cap Improvements

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance moves seamlessly from the sublime to the ridiculous. Last week, we described how the tax department applied the U.S. Constitution to a seemingly simple tax nexus case. This week, we show how the department turns its attention to the taxation of amusement park water slides.

Sales Tax and the Repeal of Prohibition

The 21st amendment, which repealed Prohibition back in 1933, would hardly seem to be news. But it actually came into play in what initially appeared to be a very ordinary query before the state tax department. The Office of Counsel usually can resolve sales tax confusion by consulting state laws and regulations, with occasional references to court cases and IRS rules. But in Advisory Opinion TSB-A-13(35)S, the state based its decision—almost entirely—on one of the U.S. Constitution's most famous amendments.

Revised Forms and Credits: NYSDTF Opens New Year with a Bang

The staff at the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance apparently spent the holiday season gearing up for the upcoming tax season, releasing a variety of notices to correct and clarify key filing issues. All of the notices cover issues that tax practitioners should address in the near future.

Tax Relief Commission Addresses Property and Business Taxes

With his state-of-the-state address due for delivery on Jan. 8, Cuomo's mind is clearly focused on taxes. Indeed, the ink is still wet on the report of the Tax Relief Commission, chaired by Carl McCall and George Pataki, which focused on property tax relief for homeowners, incentives to local governments to reduce cost of operations, lowering the corporate tax rate and updating the estate tax. And on Jan. 6, Cuomo issued a press released detailing a $2 billion tax relief plan, which may become a centerpiece of tomorrow's address.

With Taxation, It's About Timing

As a recent case shows, sometimes the state has to rule on tax issues that aren't really about tax at all. In Advisory Opinion TSB-A-13(8)I, the provisions of the law weren't in question; rather, the petitioner wanted to know what the state thought a plain English phrase meant. As a result, the state tax department had to step in and make a ruling because the state legislature had been vague.

Software Vendor Receives Three Sales Tax Decisions for One Product

It would seem that the state tax department's Office of Counsel spends half its time figuring out how to apply laws and regulations—which may be decades old—to new technology-based ways of doing business. That's true in Advisory Opinion TSB-13(30)S, but there's a twist: in this opinion, the state had to rule simultaneously on three tax situations for what was apparently just one product—and issued a split decision. Few recent decisions have illustrated how important it is to tread carefully when dealing with electronic products.

Nonprofit Retail Outlet + Bad Advice = Sales Tax Tangle

That's what happened in Advisory Opinion TSB-A-13(29)S, and the state found itself in the difficult job of separating tax fact from tax rumor. But some sympathy for the petitioner might be in order: the case involved the complex rules surrounding nonprofits involved in retail activities, and the resulting analysis was not simple.

A Minister Walks Into a Juice Bar—Is There a Tax?

Recent advisory opinions from the state's Office of Counsel—especially those addressing the sales tax—have shown how complicated it can be to determine what is or is not a taxable product or service. Subtle distinctions in business models and finely worded laws and regulations can make all the difference.

State Revises Guidance on Cross-Border Taxation

It's the season of giving, but from the government's perspective, it's also the season of taxing. For New Yorkers who do all their shopping in the Empire State, it's pretty simple: You buy taxable goods and services, you pay sales tax at the state and local rates.

State tax commission recommends overhaul, draws on NYSSCPA input

A special commission assembled by the governor has concluded that New York state’s tax system is in dire need of a major overhaul, as it is overly complex, inequitable in its treatment of taxpayers ...

State Draws Line on Publication's Sales Tax

As noted in last week's NYSSCPA E-zine, the state tax department's Office of Counsel spends a lot of time applying old laws and regulations to technology products that didn’t even exist when the laws were written. This isn't just a matter of software: various rules and laws have attempted to create a difference between information services and traditional publications that just happened to be emailed rather than printed. Figuring out where the dividing line is drawn has turned out to be complicated task.

Final IRS regs offer abundant safe harbor opportunities, complexities

After two years of providing only temporary guidance about tangible property, the IRS has released its final regulations on the matter, putting to rest open questions such as what counts as a unit of property and what needs to be capitalized vs. expensed.

Good Planning Saves the Day in Sales Tax Ruling

Small points, such as a single phrase or slight tweak to a business model, can mean the difference between a product or service that is subject to sales tax and one that isn’t. Careful planning, based on strict adherence to guidelines, can lead to a favorable outcome when it comes to advisory opinions.

More Details on New York's Tax-Free Zones

Earlier this year, the state legislature passed Governor's Cuomo's ambitious proposal to boost the economy in key areas of the state by creating tax-free zones centered on college campuses. The SUNY Tax-Free Areas to Revitalize and Transform Upstate (START-UP) program, as described in an earlier NYSSCPA E-zine article, grants a wide range of income, sales and other tax breaks.

State Rescinds Past Sales Tax Guidance on Medical Devices

Many rulings from the state tax department's Office of Counsel have focused on applying laws to technologies that didn't exist when the relevant laws were written. Often, these rulings relate to digital products—but medical science advances, too, and the application of sales tax to certain new medical products and procedures can be just as complex.

State Takes Close Look at Air Conditioning and Tax

When New York legislators decided that capital improvement work would be free from sales tax, while mere maintenance and repair tasks would be taxable, they may have had no idea what future problems they were causing. Drawing a line is difficult when you have contractor vs. state, and becomes even more complex when you throw subcontractors into the mix.

NYS Rules on S Corporation Tax Credit

When it comes to shareholder taxation, federal law would seem especially applicable, and it often is, but the state is also involved. New York has an investment tax credit (ITC), and its application can be deceptively complex. In recently issued Advisory Opinion TSB-A-13(9)C, the state tax department's Office of Counsel looked at both state and federal law, as well as legal precedents, to determine what exactly the credit can cover.

State Rules on 'Personal and Individual' in Sales Tax

Many of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance's sales tax advisory opinions have revolved around technological situations that didn't exist, or were just in their infancy, when the laws and regulations were put into effect. In such cases, lawyers at the department's Office of Counsel have to take a close look at the transactions and see what exactly is being sold, and how, to make a decision. Recently issued Advisory Opinion TSB-A-13(24)S, which centers on the sale of information services, is a perfect example.

State Issues Rare Real Estate Advisory Opinion

For the first time this year, the New York State Department of Taxation has issued an advisory opinion on the real estate transfer tax—indeed, the department has issued only one a year in the past two years. (This compares with about 30 a year for the sales tax.) But rarity isn’t the only thing of interest in Advisory Opinion TSB-A-13(4)R: It's one of the few opinions to intersect heavily with New York City law—in this case, the city's strict zoning rules. It's ultimately not about whether state rules trump city rules, but how one can shape the other and lead to a financially substantial ruling on taxation.

NYS Personal Income Tax Report Provides Insights for CPAs

It takes a long time to crunch all the data and write all the material for a 122-page report, which is why the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has finally come out with its analysis of the 2010 tax year. But although the information may seem a little out of date by this point, it's still useful in showing trends, when compared with 2009.

States Addresses Leasing and Sales Tax—Again

It's a coincidence that virtually back-to-back the state tax department's Office of Counsel ruled on two cases that hinged on the subtleties of leasing arrangements. Last week, the NYSSCPA E-zine covered leasing in the computer industry. In this week's coverage of Advisory Opinion TSB-A-13(21)S, the state looks at equipment in the medical industry—what, if anything, is being leased or sold?

Tax Department Rules on Significance of a Name

In recently issued Advisory Opinion TSB-A-13(18)S, the Office of Counsel at the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance addressed one of Shakespeare's most famous lines: "What's in a name?" The department's answer? "The 4 percent state sales tax." In a short but instructive ruling, the department denied a request to a vendor who made a valiant try at avoiding the sales tax by using the subtleties of tax law nomenclature as a defense.

State Updates Offer In Compromise Program

Earlier this summer, while many CPAs and their clients were on vacation and next year's tax season was probably far from their minds, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance updated its guidance and instructions for its offer in compromise program. The revised page includes not only a description of the program and eligibility requirements, but links to the necessary forms and to the most recent relevant technical information.

State Takes a Hard Line in Defining Sales Tax for Vendors

When it comes to sales taxes, it's often about the nature of the transaction. As shown in an article in last week's E-zine, as well as in a 2012 Tax Bulletin, the state takes a very close look at the details of a transaction and clearly is putting greater weight on what is happening than on what vendors say is happening.

Post-DOMA, IRS Makes Changes While SSA Lags

It took only a few minutes for the U.S. Supreme Court to announce that is was overturning key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act earlier this summer. But it seems that the legal wrangling and long-term overhaul of reams of federal rules may take months. The Defense Department got onboard early, saying that same-sex military couples would received married benefits, and now the IRS has clarified that it will recognize all same-sex marriages.

Paying a Sales Tax on Ballpark Food—Revisited

It doesn't happen often, but in recently released Advisory Opinion TSB-A-13(15)S, the tax department's Office of Counsel has revisited a previously issued opinion to see if a new arrangement between business partners might change the state's view on who is responsible for sales tax in a particular situation. The department addressed multiple questions related to the new financial relationship, and its answers throw light on the subtleties of sales tax law relating to definitions of resale and how a contract's wording may—or may not—change sales tax status.

With Registrations, State Gets Serious on STAR

Last spring, the NYSSCPA E-zine reported on findings from the state comptroller's office and local officials that showed widespread misuse—and possible outright fraud—in the state's School Tax Relief Program (STAR). So it's perhaps no surprise that the state has launched a new registration program to make sure that the program—in which the state picks up a portion of homeowners' local school taxes—is not paying out more than it should.

State Publishes Annual Legislature Income Tax Summary

As it did last year, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has published a  Summary of Budget Bill Personal Income Tax Changes, which outlines, in 14 pages, the tax changes in the most recent state budget. Some of these items have wide-ranging implications and received a lot of attention; others are more obscure or narrowly focused and came in under the radar. All are covered in further detail the summary, which provides links to the relevant legal sections and other authoritative guidance.

Solomonic Solutions for an Obscure Tax

The New York state mortgage recording tax (MRT) is not one of your better-known state taxes. We're reminded of the income tax with every paycheck and the sales tax every time we step into a store. But the MRT is easily forgotten—some families will never pay it, and plenty will face it just once. Nevertheless, its application can throw some interesting lights on the way tax law is applied in New York. Two recent MRT advisory opinions provide insights into the workings of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance that should be of interest even to practitioners who rarely have to work with the tax.

Three-Party Transaction Leads to Sales Tax Headache

Sometimes it's not just a matter of what products or services are subject to state tax, but who owns what at a given moment. In Advisory Opinion TSB-A-13(19)S, the petitioner describes a situation involving three parties' use of temporary party structures that sometimes reads like the "Who's on First" routine. Complex enough by itself, the case also addresses the proper application of Form ST-120, Resale Certificate, and why taxpayers should be wary about its use.

Software Sales Tax: It’s All About the Model

There are few places where the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance draws more fine lines than in the sections of the tax code covering software sales. In the digital world, the big question seems to be: what exactly is being sold? Some digital products are taxable, some are not, and the complexity lies in figuring out the definitions.

Special Tax Rules for Special Sales

In most New York taxable sales, the responsibility for calculating, collecting and submitting the sales tax falls on the seller. But in certain circumstances, businesses that cannot immediately determine how otherwise taxable property or services will be used are permitted to pay the tax directly to the state tax department.

Definitions Are Key in Sales Tax Exemption

There's an old saying that "almost" counts only in horseshoe throwing. It certainly doesn't count at the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. As the recently released Advisory Opinion TSB-A-13(16)S shows, when laws and other guidance list essential conditions needed to gain a tax exemptions, they all have to be met, as written.

State Historic Property Credit Updated

Buried in one of the state's budget bills enacted earlier this year (Bill S02609-D) were provisions changing the state's rehabilitation of historic properties credit. The changes—and the long-standing credit itself—have received little press, but the new provisions can make a lot of difference in the tax bills of eligible property owners. However, the owners and the tax preparers who serve them have to first understand the tangle of interacting laws and regulations relating to the credit, which is administered by both federal and state agencies.

Special Tax Rules for State Contractors

Of course, any entity involved in a taxable transaction in New York has to collect and remit sales tax. But for those who do business with New York state, there are an extra couple of steps. As noted in the recently released Tax Bulletin ST-118, in certain situations, businesses that have been awarded contracts with the state must certify that they are registered to collect state and local sales and use taxes on sales delivered to locations within New York. And this is binding on affiliates and subcontractors as well.

Avoiding Bulk Sales Tax Nightmares

Failure to understand the sales tax implications of bulk sales transactions can have serious financial repercussions for purchasers. However, in the recently released Tax Bulletin ST-70, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance not only clarifies the definition of the widely used term, but explains the special rules and procedures purchasers should follow with bulk sales to avoid problems later.

State Residency Issues for Military Families

"Residency" is the state tax issue that keeps cropping up in one situation or another. Now, New York has published Publication 361, New York State Income Tax Information for Military Personnel and Veterans, which addresses not only residency issues, but other tax topics that apply particularly to women and men in the armed services, such as how to file and what kind of state tax relief might be available.

Tax Department Clarifies Combined Reports for Corporations

When are taxpayer corporations allowed, or required, to file combined reports with other related corporations? It's been a little confusing: At the end of 2012, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance adopted amendments that provide guidance on tax law section 211.4, which governs combined reports.

Sport of Kings Is Also a Taxable Business

In a bulletin that probably won't directly affect too many CPAs—and yet throws some interesting light on state tax policy—the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has provided information on the tax status of racehorses.

N.Y. Tax Department Rules on Plan Distributions

In the coming years, as retirees depend more and more on a variety of retirement vehicles instead of just the traditional pension plans, we may see more rulings like the recently issued Advisory Opinion TSB-A-13(7)I, which specifically addresses the taxation of nonqualified deferred compensation. How do these fit into definitions in state tax law?

Tax-Free Zones Now a Reality Despite Skepticism

Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo offered a bold proposal for tax-free zones centered on college campuses around the state. As explained in an earlier E-zine article, it was unclear if the state legislature would pass it this session, change it or simply walk away . However, almost as they were walking out the door for their summer break, the legislators approved a tweaked version and the governor signed it on June 24. What exactly does it entail—and who's for or against it?

Corporate Tax Changes: A Supplemental Summary

The following summary on corporate tax changes is the third in a three-part E-zine series on supplemental summaries to 2012 New York state legislative tax changes. From brownfields to beer and from tax preparers to film production, Technical Memorandum TSB-M-13(2)C addressed four key changes not covered in the earlier Technical Memorandum TSB-M-12(7)C.

Tax Department Responds to Dog Breeder

In recent weeks, the Office of Counsel at the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has had to address tax issues relating to some of the most tangled part of state tax law: the QETC capital tax credit, investment products and nexus. But that doesn't mean that the tax department lawyers don't have to occasionally address more pedestrian topics.

State Tax Department Revamps Online Filing

April 15 may be the filing day that everyone knows about, but for both state and federal taxing authorities, filing is a year-round concern, whether it’s estimated income taxes, business taxes or sales taxes. To keep the system running as smoothly as possible, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance issued a revised trio of tax bulletins on June 11 explaining different aspects of its e-file mandate.

Discovery Services Taxation: It's All About the Definitions

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance receives more requests for advisory opinions on sales tax than on all other kinds of taxes combined, Deputy Counsel Deborah R. Liebman said in an interview earlier this year. Part of the reason may be the lengthy lists of what is and is not subject to sales tax, and how fine the line must be drawn, especially regarding electronic products that may not have even existed when laws were written.

Mandatory FBAR Electronic Filing Starts July 1, 2013

An important deadline in international tax is looming on the horizon: Beginning July 1, 2013, foreign bank reports (Form TDF 90-22.1) must be filed electronically for all years whether new or amended, according to FinCEN.

Sales Tax Changes: A Supplemental Summary

As noted in last week's E-zine, the state tax department helps practitioners keep up with legislative tax changes in Albany by publishing periodic summaries of tax changes with references for additional details. Although the 2013 changes haven't come out—the legislature still may issue some changes before breaking for the summer—the tax department is still summarizing 2012 changes.

Ruling Highlights State's QETC Capital Tax Credit

For more than a decade, New York has been giving a tax break to investors in technology companies in the form of a capital tax credit. However, the rules are complicated and extensive. To be eligible, a company must meet certain standards as a qualified emerging technology company (QETC), and there are guidelines for investors as well.

Personal Tax Changes: A Supplemental Summary

Keeping up with all the legislative tax changes that come out of Albany can be difficult, but fortunately, the state tax department lends a hand by publishing annual summaries of tax changes with references for additional details. It did that most recently in July 2012, with Technical Memorandum TSB-M-12(6)I.

Full Definitions Key in Financial Products Sales Tax Case

Few industries are more complicated, or more heavily regulated, than financial services. So when a financial services firm has to request an opinion from the New York tax department, it's a safe bet that it's going to be complicated. Indeed, in Advisory Opinion TSB-A-13(12)S, one firm took an impressive six pages just to describe the product in question, so that the department could fully understand what is being sold, and thus make a decision on how the product fits into state tax law definitions.

Where Sales Tax Meets Capital Improvement

So many state tax department advisory opinions hinge not only on rules and definitions in state tax law, but on how the petitioners have structured their particular situations. This is especially true of business petitioners, whose business practices can mean the difference between having to pay a tax or avoiding it. In a recent case, business practices were not only the crux of the issue, they spilled over from what began as a sales tax query into the issue of capital improvement.

Planning for a Tax-Free New York?

The state code has its share of breaks, a sales tax exemption here, a deduction for income tax there. But if a new proposal out of Albany goes through,  New Yorkers may be able to say goodbye to income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes and business taxes, not just for certain specific transactions, but for all items and all income, for a decade. Governor Cuomo is boosting it, and leading legislators on both sides of the aisle like it. To get in on the deal, all you really have to do is be near a state university campus located upstate.

A Sales Tax Exemption's Twisted Path

Anyone who's reviewed advisory opinions from the state tax department knows that decisions often hinge on narrowly worded definitions, and that even what appear to be minor changes in a business's model can mean the difference between owing a tax or claiming an exempt status. The need for a close reading of legal language is illustrated again and again in a recent advisory opinion that runs an extraordinary eight pages.

Sales Tax: State Updates Guidance

Navigating the processes and rules of the New York sales tax can be a complex ordeal, involving extensive recordkeeping, a variety of laws and publications and the need to be familiar with a plethora of bulletins and publications. Fortunately, earlier this month, the state tax department updated its "Business Information for Sales Tax Purposes" page, with a summary of key rules, links to helpful publications and a references to applicable laws and recent guidance.

Nexus Ruling Highlights Complexities of State Law

Nexus has been very much in the news recently. Back in April, New York won a case against Amazon and Overstock, successfully arguing that "affiliate" programs established nexus for sales tax purposes. And Washington is close to imposing a national solution to the problem, with a bill making its way through Congress. However, the sales tax isn’t the only nexus issue on the table, as the state showed in a ruling earlier this year—corporate taxes are also subject to nexus rulings.

Tax Dept. Defines 'Vendor' for Sales Tax Purposes

In an interview earlier this year, state tax department Deputy Counsel Deborah R. Liebman said that about two-thirds of the petitions her office receives relate to the sales tax, which she describes as much more complicated from an advisory opinion perspective than the income tax perspective. Advisory Opinion TSB-A-13(10)S, issued earlier this month, shows just how true that is, as her office grappled with the case of an unclear vendor.

NYSSCPA tax panels provide statewide services

Freezing temperatures, icy roads and blustery snow usually correspond to the late-winter months of February and March. But at the NYSSCPA, that time of year also signals the beginning of the Society’s annual public tax panels, which are cosponsored by local newspapers and held across the state.

New York Cracks Down on Fraud with New Enforcement System

The waning days of the tax season were particularly busy for those with law enforcement responsibility. Various agencies announced the arrests of multiple preparers in what appear to be major tax fraud cases, the tax department has updated its lists of the most egregious individual and business tax evaders and state tax commissioner Thomas H. Mattox has announced new procedures to reduce tax evasion in the future.

BUDGET UPDATE: A Quick View of Tax Provisions

Tax policy wonks can click their way to New York's Division of the Budget and happily pore over the hundreds of pages of dense legal language that make up the annual state budget, spending days reviewing every line that affects taxation. But for everyone else, the state's Office of Tax Policy Analysis (OPTA) has put together a Summary of Tax Provisions that briefly describes the key tax issues in 24 user-friendly pages. Below are some of the most significant and interesting changes.

Advisory Opinion Contends with a Statistical Quirk

It was probably one of the more unusual problems faced by the Office of Counsel at the state tax department. How do you perform a necessary tax calculation when there are no numbers available? The solution involved not only the typical interpretation of the New York state tax law, but input and involvement from private industry and various government agencies at the city, state and federal level.

Tax & Finance Survey: More of the Same in New York

Once  again, in the waning days of the tax season, the Siena Research Institute has surveyed New Yorkers on a range of tax and finance issues. The survey compares results to surveys taken at the same time in 2012 and 2011, and perhaps the most remarkable conclusion is that there's really very little that's remarkable in the year-to-year comparisons.

Understanding—and Changing—Property Assessments

There's just a few days to go before the April 15 deadline, but the income tax is not the only game in town. Just last month the state tax department brushed up its property tax page, and it has posted extensive information about property taxes and property assessments: how they relate to each other and how they differ.

What's the Deal on Tax Statute of Limitations?

In a few more days, taxpayers will be settling their accounts with state and federal taxing authorities—and hope that's the last of it. Of course, there's always the dreaded possibility of a tax audit, of having the IRS or the state tax department asking for every piece of paper and going over every deduction. How long do they have to do this? That is, when can the taxpayer feel safe that a tax return is a done deal? The answer: a long time.

State Rules on the Many Subtleties of "Clubs"

The New York state tax laws can get very specific on definitions, leaving taxpayers unsure of what applies in their circumstances: A long-standing organization of business people devoted to helping its members network  wanted to know if the organization dues were subject to sales tax.

NYSDTF: How's It Doing?

Going back to the 2008-2009 fiscal year, the New York State Department of Taxation and finance has set various metrics and tracked its progress in meeting them, quarter to quarter. These brief reports allow taxpayers and tax professionals to compare how the department is doing against its own goals. In recent quarters, where it is kept the metrics the same, it also allows comparisons over time. What has happened in the past year?

IRS personnel address freeze, identity theft

The last vestiges of a freeze that the IRS had instituted over certain exam­inations and collections activities in parts of the state affected by Superstorm Sandy were expected to be lifted April 1, agency personnel noted during a panel discussion hosted by the NYSSCPA’s Relations with the Internal Revenue Service Committee.

Court Rules Online Sales Tax Is Valid

Amazon and Overstock, two major online retailers, lost their battle in the New York's highest court last week, in their attempt to avoid state sales taxes. This particular sales tax nexus case centered on "associate" or "affiliate" arrangements, as described in the March 28 decision from the Court of Appeals, through which New York-based third-party websites garner commissions by funneling their visitors to retailers' sites.

Nexus: It's Not Just for Sales Tax

With a few exceptions, every business in New York has to pay a state franchise tax, as outlined in state tax law, section 209.1. The state provides a wide definition, saying the tax applies to each company for the privilege of "exercising its corporate franchise, or of doing business, or of employing capital, or of owning or leasing property in this state in a corporate or organized capacity, or of maintaining an office in this state."

Challenging the State Tax Department

Yes, it is possible for taxpayers to take action against a bill or notice from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance if they disagree with it. The department has even set up a page that explains the rights and procedures in challenging—or "protesting"—a department missive, but to maximize the chances for a good result, taxpayers should follow the instructions and deadline information outlined on the department site and in the letters received.

New York Addresses Definition of Performing Arts

A trapeze artist may be a star in the circus, but that doesn't mean that charges for her performances are free from sales tax, even though a circus itself is. In delving into a very specific situation (how many CPAs can boast of aerial performers among their clientele?), the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has examined the complex—and controversial—rules and lists of exceptions surrounding state policy on taxation of the performing arts.

State Offers Guidance on Tax Shelters

Taxes may be one of the great certainties in life, but that doesn't stop taxpayers from doing their best to find legal ways to protect their assets using what the government refers to as "transactions that present the potential for tax avoidance"—more commonly known as tax shelters. As explained on the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance website, not only do taxpayers and advisors have to report these to the IRS, they have to inform the state tax department as well.

The Elusive Mortgage Recording Tax Exemption

New York imposes various taxes on the recording of a mortgage within the state, and although certain mortgages get an exemption, the regulations regarding them are complex and detailed. In recent Advisory Opinion TSB-A-13(1)R, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance had to sort through them and parse narrow definitions to decide whether a particular situation was covered under the exemption regulations.

Offer in Compromise: Make a Deal with the State

Many will be getting tax refunds from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, but some will discover they actually owe money to the state—perhaps even more than they can pay. That's where the state's Offer in Compromise program comes in, allowing financially distressed taxpayers—both businesses and individuals—to get a certain amount of relief from overwhelming tax burdens.

N.Y. Tax Department Launches Redesigned Website

While CPAs were busy preparing and filing tax returns, the staffers behind-the-scenes at the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance were also busy giving the departmental website a facelift. Navigation is now easier, with quick access to popular online services and bold links to frequently used pages such as file a return, make a payment, check your refund and register or renew with the state as an employer or vendor.

N.Y. Attorney General Finds Law Tailor-Made for Tax Case

In a case that will be no doubt be remembered for both the novel application of a state law and its farcical aspects, well-known New York City custom tailor Mohanbhai "Mohan" Ramchandani, of Mohan's Custom Tailors, admitted before the New York County Supreme Court to failure to pay nearly $2 million in sales and income taxes.

NYSDTF Defines an Educational Service in Opinion

What exactly is being sold? That's the question the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance had to answer in recently issued Advisory Opinion TSB-A-13(6)S.  The decision revolves around certain services a consulting firm provides to companies for their employees. However, the implications go beyond the specifics of the case, which throws light on how the department  determines categories for sales tax purposes.

New York Tax Refunds: Special Cases Addressed

In recent weeks, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has updated its guidance on income tax refunds. The state has provided details not only on basic tasks, like checking the status of  refund, but on particular problems or issues that may delay or alter a state tax refund.

State Explains How to Come Clean on Taxes

With just over five weeks left until the income tax deadline, most taxpayers are focusing on finishing their returns on time—or perhaps happily contemplating a refund. But what about those who still haven't filed last year's New York state returns, or the returns due the year before that? They're on the hook for a range of penalties and criminal charges. However, if they "fess up," as the state Department of Taxation and Finance puts it, they can avoid a lot of grief.

Comptroller Finds Improper STAR Payments

Thanks to the School Tax Relief Program (STAR), New York state picks up part of the tab for school taxes for homeowners, and even more for senior citizens. However, state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said in a recen press release that the program may be paying out too much.

NYC Addresses EITC at City, State and Federal Levels

New York City has mailed amended federal returns to more than 6,000 New Yorkers who are eligible for the 2009 city, state and federal earned income tax credit (EITC), but did not apply, according to a Feb. 20 announcement from city Finance Commissioner David M. Frankel and Kristin Morse, executive director of the city's Center for Economic Opportunity.

NYSDTF Deputy Counsel Gives Inside Look Into Advisory Opinions

Each year, the state tax department issues dozens of advisory opinions that often intrigue and always educate CPAs, with their detailed focus on important but sometimes obscure corners of the state's tax laws and regulations. To gain further insights into these opinions, their import and how the whole process works, the NYSSCPA E-zine conducted a phone interview with Deputy Counsel Deborah R. Liebman, who signs off on the opinions.  

State Cites UCC in Determining When a Lease is a Purchase

Both owners and user of equipment may find financial and practical advantages in a leasing model in some situations, with an outright transfer of ownership in a sale better in others. In fact, some companies have created models that incorporate the best of each choice, blurring the distinction. But New York approaches the sales tax in each situation differently, so no matter how thin the line gets between the two models, it still has to be drawn.  

Employee vs. Contractor: the Sales Tax Angle

Companies, and the CPAs and lawyers who work with them, have long faced the challenge that comes from trying to decide who is an employee and who is an independent contractor. IRS guidance on the matter is extensive. But because there's a sales tax component to these decisions as well, New York state also has an interest in the definition. 

State Expands "Capital Improvements" Definition

In recently issued Advisory Opinion TSB-A-13(4)S, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance widened the scope of the capital improvements exemption from sales tax, by ruling that when services are provided as a package, they may be considered all together as a capital improvement.

NYSDTF Outlines Complex Mortgage Tax Scenarios

In New York, you get a mortgage and you have to pay a tax at the time of recording. The tax consists of up to four different kinds of tax, based on location, and together can run to $1.00 or more per $100 of mortgage debt or obligation secured. Although this looks straightforward—there's more to the tax when mortgages get complicated.

Taxpayer advocate criticizes code complexity, underfunding at IRS

In her most recent annual report, released on Jan. 9, IRS Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson said the intricacies of the tax code and the lack of budgetary resources to collect revenue, support taxpayers and launch initiatives are among the biggest hurdles facing the tax system today.

Federal court strikes down IRS tax preparer system

The IRS’s Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) designation—as well as the continuing education and test requirements that go with it—has taken a major hit, thanks to a federal court ruling that says the service lacks the authority to regulate tax preparers. Although CPAs, attorneys and enrolled agents are exempt from the IRS’s continuing education and testing requirements, it’s a surprising development that may hold implications for them as well.

New York Outlines Strict Rules for State Credits

Camille Siano Enders has become the second New York Taxpayer Rights Advocate (TRA), according to a release from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. She succeeds Jack Trachtenberg, who left in February 2012 for the private sector. Attorney Siano Enders is bringing both public service and nonprofit experience to her role, which is to act as a mediator between the department and the taxpayer.

New York’s New Taxpayer Rights Advocate Appointed

Camille Siano Enders has become the second New York Taxpayer Rights Advocate (TRA), according to a release from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. She succeeds Jack Trachtenberg, who left in February 2012 for the private sector. Attorney Siano Enders is bringing both public service and nonprofit experience to her role, which is to act as a mediator between the department and the taxpayer.

State Announces Lower 9-A Rates for Some

Starting with tax year 2012, eligible qualified New York manufacturers can take advantage of reduced tax rates for tax years 2012 through 2014, as explained in Technical Memorandum TSB-M-13(1)C. The key to the tax break lies in the detailed definitions of what it means to be "eligible and qualified."

State Tax Department Lays Down the Law on Extensions

The income tax filing season hasn't even started yet, but the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance is already providing guidance on applying for an extension. But it's only the filing that's open for extension—the payment is due on April 15.

Sales and Use Taxes: Residency and Other Topics

Sales tax is usually automatic: You buy an item, the vendor tacks it onto the cost, and eventually remits it to the state according to a government-imposed schedule. In some cases the vendor is not obligated to collect New York tax—but that doesn't mean the purchaser gets a free pass. The state government, as it explains in the recently released Purchaser's Obligations to Pay Sales and Use Taxes Directly to the Tax Department, still wants its money.

State Outlines Tax Rules and More for Household Help

If you have a housekeeper, nanny or caretaker, you may be an employer, and you have to follow state tax rules. That's the message of Tax Bulletin MU-350, which summarizes New York reporting and filing requirements, as well as certain federal requirements, for those employing household help. Below are some of the key provisions.

Old-Fashioned Envelopes: Subject to Tax?

For much of 2012, the state tax department's Advisory Opinion Unit spent a lot of time on technology and internet issues, applying regulations to problems that often didn't exist when the laws and rules were written. But in  TSB-A-12(31)S, one of the last opinions of 2012, the Office of Counsel took a look at a petition that involved a long-established technology: the paper mailing envelope.

State Outlines Tax Provisions for Senior Citizens and Retirees

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finances is helping its oldest residents—and the CPAs who serve them—with a new 31-page guide that addresses income tax; state, local and federal pensions; STAR eligibility and relevant tax credits. Released in December 2012, the guide is specifically geared to the current tax season. Below are some of the most significant guidance in the document.

IRS Announces Delayed Opening of 1040 Season

The IRS has announced it will begin processing individual tax returns starting on January 30—more than a week later than the originally planned January 22 date. It expects to start accepting both paper and electronic tax returns on January 30 after updating forms and making upgrades to its processing systems to reflect tax changes enacted on January 2.

Special January Rules for IRA Distributions

Although CPAs will be poring over the details of the compromise that ended the fiscal cliff in the coming weeks and months, there's at least one provision that taxpayers will have to act on now: special one-time rules for certain IRA disbursements.

Place of Abode, Sandy and Marshmallows—Your Opinion is Requested

As required by the State Administrative Procedure Act (SAPA), rules published in the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) generally must be posted for review every five years. The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance found 25 rules due for comment in 2013, and they run a wide range. CPAs, or any other interested parties, have a chance to be heard and possibly make (or prevent) a change in state tax rules.

Ruling Shows Tax Dept. Flexible on IT Models

According to state tax law sec. 1115(a)(37), equipment and services associated with an internet data center are exempt from sales tax. In recently issued Advisory Opinion TSB-A-12(30)S, the NYSDTF showed that even as technology changes and adapts, the regulations can change and adapt with it. In short, an internet data center does not have to be limited to one model to claim the tax exemption.

Taxpayer advocate looks at who is and isn’t compliant

In a decisive vote, the NYSSCPA Board of Directors supported the concept of non–CPA firm ownership during its quarterly meeting on December 4.
The vote passed by a count of 29-1, with four members of the board abstaining. Society leaders have been reviewing the issue extensively since it became clear that related legislation may be introduced in the New York State Legislature in 2013.

State Tax Official Talks of Regulations to Come

The department is going to be updating its regulation of the tax preparer profession, and everyone should keep an eye out for the proposed new rules in 2013. That was the message from Jamie Woodward, executive deputy commissioner of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, who spoke at the Dec. 5. NYSSCPA/FAE New York State Taxation Conference.

New Sales Tax System to Become Mandatory

It seems appropriate that as the holiday season began, when stores and the analysts that cover them are talking about their sales, the NYSDTF was talking about the sales tax.

Guide Covers Residency and Lease Terms for Auto Sales Taxation

New York auto dealerships remit more than $1 billion in sales tax each year, according to a December release from the NYSDTF. But just as automobile sales themselves can be complex, so is the way the tax is calculated.

MCTMT: filers can still benefit from claims

Last month, the statute of limitations ran out for employers to submit a protective claim that entitles them to a full refund, should the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Mobility Tax (MCTMT) be overturned. However, those who missed the deadline aren’t totally out of luck, and self-employed New Yorkers still have plenty of time to file.

New York Offers New Guide for New Businesses

In a Nov. 2012 announcement, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said that the tax collections of $35.9 billion through October were behind expectations, falling $170.8 million below July estimates and $259.8 million below initial estimates. Considering new estimates going forward, DiNapoli said that adjustments should take into account the additional costs from Sandy.

COLA Provision Kicks in for 2013 State Tax Tables

Over the past year, a lot of new income tax provisions came out of Albany, as summarized in Technical Memorandum TSB-M-12(3)I, issued in February 2012. Although the new tables and other major changes received a lot of attention, another less-discussed provision has only now come into play, but it will make a difference in 2013 paychecks: the automatic cost of living adjustment.

New York Offers New Guide for New Businesses

Earlier this month, the NYSDTF issued its Tax Guide for New Businesses, which covers everything from withholding tax for employees to the boxing and wrestling exhibitions tax. CPAs will no doubt appreciate it for themselves because it is comprehensive and contains links to more technical publications and tax forms. Also, because it is aimed at the owners themselves, CPAs can recommend it as a guide and reference for their clients.

In Decade-Long Pattern, State Rules on Taxability of Intangibles

If NYSDTF sales tax rulings and commentary can be said to have a theme, it seems to be the nature of what is or is not tangible, and how that affects tax rulings. Guidance from the department may be tightly and specifically worded, but the overall pattern has been that basically, a purely electronic deliverable is not subject to sales tax. A recent advisory opinion is no exception.

State Shows Residency Matters in Sales Tax

Anyone who has driven a car in New York City knows how difficult it can be to find parking in town, how expensive it can get, and the lengths some drivers will go to in securing a good spot. Now, the NYSDTF is getting into the act with Advisory Opinion TSB-A-12(28)S, which explores the complex rules surrounding another unpleasant aspect of parking: state, New York City and county taxes that can run to 18 3/8 percent in Manhattan.

State Issues Its Official Guide to Its Tax Law

Essentially a well-annotated index to New York taxation, the annual Handbook of New York State and Local Taxes provides essential guidance in its 55-page guide to every New York tax, from the obvious—income and sales taxes—to the obscure—the New York City taxicab license transfer tax. And the really thorny issues, like the Insurance Tax (Article 33), get especially detailed explanations.

For Sales Tax, the "How" Trumps the "What"

Although it's a narrowly focused decision, Advisory Opinion TSB-A-12(29)S gives some broad insights into how sales tax decisions are made. Tax law and regulations can get very specific on what is or is not subject to sales tax, but sometimes a tax is as much a matter of how an item is sold as how it's manufactured.

Sales Tax Depends on Who Is Renting What to Whom

It might seem obvious in a transaction who is the buyer and who is the seller, but recent Advisory Opinion TSB-A-12(25)S takes four pages and a slew of references to clarify what happens with taxes when three parties are involved. The result: You may be a "seller" for tax purposes without even realizing it.

NYSDTF Lays Down the Law on Alcohol

On a single day—October 16—the Department of Taxation and Finance issued 10 new tax bulletins all on the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages, as well as retiring three publications as obsolete.

'Pole Dancing' Decision Highlights Sales Tax Confusion

As noted in an earlier NYSSCPA blog, Nite Moves, a strip club outside of Albany, tried to  claim it was exempt from sales tax by arguing that the club's dancers fell under the "dramatic or musical arts performance" exemption in 20 CRR-NY 527.10.

Pastors throw down gauntlet to IRS

Daring the IRS to revoke their tax-exempt status, pastors from more than 1,000 religious organizations across the country took to their pulpits Oct. 7 and made specific recommendations about political candidates, as part of the fifth annual “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.”  The event, staged by the religious advocacy organization Alliance Defending Freedom, is meant to challenge a tax law ...

State Provides Guidance on MCTMT Protective Claims

In August 2012, Judge R. Bruce Cozzens Jr. of the New York State Supreme Court, in Nassau County, struck down the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Mobility Tax as unconstitutional, partly because it applies only to 12 counties in the state. Although the state has promised an appeal, questions remain.

State Rules on Tangible Property

In a ruling that applies tax law to technologies that didn't even exist when the laws themselves were written, the NYSDTF has determined that files attached to emails are not subject to sales tax. In short, electrons are not "tangible" in the meaning of the law.

Information Service and Tax: When the Line Is Crossed

For the second time in recent weeks, the NYSDTF has addressed in an advisory opinion the tax status of information services, and how recent technological changes interacted with tax regulations. This new opinion, TSB-A-12(24)S, like the earlier one, was decided largely in favor of the petitioner. But the office of counsel pointed out subtleties and showed how easy it is to cross the line from nontaxable to taxable.

Tax Credit Is Allowed for Second Owner

In Advisory Opinion TSB-A-12(5)C, the NYSDTF addressed the question of how transportable a tax credit can be. The short answer is that at least in some instances, it's not limited to the first buyer. However, that doesn't mean that an infinite number of owners will lead to a infinite number of credits.

Hotels, property and fuel: new rules at the NYSDTF

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (NYSDTF) recently announced three proposals and two adoptions on a wide range of tax issues, including fuel use tax regulations, real property tax administration, franchise taxes and hotel use. For the proposals, the department is inviting commentary from interested parties through October; summaries of the proposals as well as instructions for commenting by email or by printed letter are available at

IRS unveils a more user-friendly website

Just in time for the final deadline of tax season, the IRS has unveiled the latest incarnation of its website,, with features the agency said had been designed to better reflect how people typically use the site, as well as deliver services at a faster pace.

Software Directory—Tax for the Internet Age

In a recent advisory opinion, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance  had to take a fresh look at old regulations, when making a decision on how tax laws written in pre-Internet days work with current publishing and information service companies.

With Sales Tax, the Fine Print Counts

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance recently ruled on a case that involved a fine line between what is permanent what is temporary, defining "construction equipment" and explaining why one missing word from the state tax code may have saved a small fortune in sales tax for one company.

MCTMT: A Tax in Limbo?

On August 22, 2012, a Nassau County State Supreme Court judge invalidated the MCTMT because it violated certain “home rule” provisions of the New York State Constitution. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has vowed to appeal the ruling all the way to the state Court of Appeals.

State Updates Voluntary Disclosure Program Info?

As the year winds down, many taxpayers will no doubt be focusing on the upcoming tax season and what they might owe or get back. But the Department of Taxation and Finance is hoping some will be thinking about the money they owed last year—but haven't paid.

State Advertises Its Tax Payment Plan

What happens to those who can't pay their New York taxes? The Department of Taxation and Finance may be willing to make a deal, as outlined in a September release from the department: The state has a payment plan program, which lets taxpayers pay back taxes in monthly installments.

State Clarifies Emerging Tech Companies for Tax Purposes

Since 2005, New York has provided tax credits for companies that are classified as "qualified emerging technology companies" (QETCs). But figuring out whether a company is in fact a QETC has long been complicated.

Advertising Guidance: Multiple Items, Multiple Taxes

In recently issued Advisory Opinion TSB-A-12(20)S, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance found there was no simple tax answer for the petitioner, who sells advertising displays in hospitals. Some aspects of the job are taxable, and some are not, and much depends on subtle definitions.

Tax Ruling Highlights Outsourcing Complications

Generally speaking, when something is sold, sales tax is owed. But in today's world, where outsourcing is a common business model, it can be unclear who exactly is doing the buying and selling, and who owes the tax. A recent NYSDTF Advisory Opinion, TSB-A-12(19)S, helps clarify some of the issues.

Delivery Charges Sometimes Taxable, State Rules

Just in time for the final deadline of tax season, the IRS has unveiled the latest incarnation of its website,, with features the agency said had been designed to better reflect how people typically use the site, and deliver services at a faster pace.

IRS Rolls Out Revamped Website

Just in time for the final deadline of tax season, the IRS has unveiled the latest incarnation of its website,, with features the agency said had been designed to better reflect how people typically use the site, and deliver services at a faster pace.

'Permanent Place of Abode' Gets Another Review

It may seem that taxpayers and the NYSDTF will never run out of fine lines to draw and gray areas to clarify when it comes to tax issues surrounding residency in New York. In an August Advisory Opinion, TSB-A-12(4)I, the department's Office of Counsel pored over old cases to determine whether residency is established for a petitioner who was considering buying something more than a hotel room but less than an actual residence.

Hotels, Property and Fuel: New Rules at NYSDTF

At the end of August, the NYSDTF announced three proposals and two adoptions on a wide range of tax issues. Covered are fuel use tax regulations, real property tax administration, franchise taxes and hotel use. For the proposals, the department is inviting commentary from interested parties.

Tax commissioner: tax prep regulations are forthcoming

State regulation of tax return preparers is no longer a matter of if, but of when, according to New York State Tax Commissioner Thomas H. Mattox, who said that the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance would begin working to put new rules in place for the 2013 tax year.

NYSDTF Takes on Child Support Deadbeats

The Department of Taxation and Finance casts a wide net: sales tax, income tax, property tax—and deadbeat parents. By law, if a parent owes four months or more of child support and is not paying by income withholding, NYSDTF steps up, according to a department release.

Film tax clarified in epic bulletin

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has issued a lengthy and complex bulletin to provide some guidance to the often confusing world of film taxation, outlining the rules on sales tax exemptions.

State takes a fresh look at 'capital improvements' guidance

Because capital improvement work is exempt from state sales tax and simple repair work is not, contractors and their clients have to draw a fine line between the two. On top of that, the NYSDTF has imposed a variety of rules and advice regarding billing, filing and exemption certificates.

Sales and use tax filing rules updated

At the end of July, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance updated filing requirements for sales and use tax returns in Tax Bulletin ST-275 (TB-ST-275). The bulletin explains e-filing requirements and how to determine filing frequency.

State revises highway tax rules

Americans, with their car culture, have long celebrated the freedom of the open road. But for some New Yorkers at any rate, that freedom comes with a 26-page manual that covers registration requirements, recordkeeping rules and taxes.

NYS has new sales tax guidance for hospitality industry

In the year since the state Legislature passed a law capping annual property-tax increases, municipal finance officers have struggled to make sense of the new requirements—and remain concerned about how the changes will affect communities already facing budget shortfalls, a panel of local officials said during a recent FAE Government Accounting and Auditing Conference.

Public sector CPAs address tax cap dilemmas

In the year since the state Legislature passed a law capping annual property-tax increases, municipal finance officers have struggled to make sense of the new requirements—and remain concerned about how the changes will affect communities already facing budget shortfalls, a panel of local officials said during a recent FAE Government Accounting and Auditing Conference.

Businesses still uncertain about health reform law despite SCOTUS decision

Although a June 28 Supreme Court decision has ruled in favor of preserving most of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many businesses remain uncertain about what the decision means for them and how they will adjust to the changing landscape.

State updates years-old electronic filing requirements

In two separate documents, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has issued new guidance for the filing of Form NYS-1, Return of Tax Withheld, and quarterly wage and withholding tax information. Extensive technical details are included.

State draws fine lines on medical sales tax

The Office of Counsel at the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has been busy with medical issues this summer. In four separate opinions on whether certain products are subject to sales tax, Deputy Counsel Deborah R. Liebman looked into the exact definition of "medical," seeking guidance, in some cases, from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Guidance and rates on mortgage recording tax published

Earlier this month, in Tax Bulletin MR-5 (TB-MR-5), the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance addressed the multi-part mortgage recording tax and provided guidance on when the $10,000 exclusion applies.

NYSDTF lists budget bill tax regs

Amidst the complex series of state budget bills signed into law by Governor Cuomo earlier this year were a variety of income tax changes. On July 5, the NYSDTF summarized them in Technical Memorandum TSB-M-12(6)I. The changes are not new, and most have already been covered since the start of the new fiscal year on April 1, but this is the first official summary of all the key changes published in one document.

Working with new state tax audit guidelines

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has posted new versions of its two-page publication The New York State Tax Audit—Your Rights and Responsibilities. It comes in two versions: Publication 130-D (the desk audit) and Publication 130-F (the field audit). Both of them outline what taxpayers can expect and how to handle disagreements.

State tax rules for those just passing through

In Technical Memorandum TSB-M-12(5)I, the NYSDTF clarified rules for employers on who can slip under the wire for withholding purposes, and who can't. With exceptions—and exceptions to the exceptions—it's not always a simple proposition.

New York state takes fresh look at use tax

In tax forms and guidance, they’re usually paired: “the sales and use tax.” But the “use tax” tends to be the forgotten sibling—difficult to track and pay, with rules that consumers are not familiar with. But New York, like many states looking to collect every dime owed, is trying to change that.

Members react to President’s corporate tax rate reform plans

Much has been written about President Barack Obama’s proposal, released back in February, which would lower the corporate income tax rate from its current statutory rate of 35 percent to 28 percent, a shift that would be balanced by closing certain loopholes and ending some subsidies. But what do NYSSCPA members think?