Monday, September 13, 2010

Oklahoma Adopts a Gross Receipts Tax Providing for “Economic Presence” Nexus

Oklahoma has been in the news recently because of its enactment of a controversial sales tax statute, similar to the Colorado statute, that requires companies which do not collect and remit the Oklahoma sales and use tax because of their lack of physical presence to provide notification to Oklahoma purchasers of the purchasers’ obligation to remit sales and use tax.  (See our related blog posts of June 24, July 1, and July 9.) In addition, Oklahoma has recently adopted a Business Activity Tax, which is in lieu of the franchise tax, and which requires any company with sales greater than $500,000 to Oklahoma destinations, regardless of the company’s physical presence in Oklahoma, to pay a tax of 1% of its gross sales revenue to Oklahoma residents.  The Business Activity Tax legislation, like the sales tax legislation, ignores the Quill physical presence test, and bases nexus on the “economic presence” of an out-of-state company; i.e., greater than $500,000 of gross receipts from an Oklahoma source.  The Business Activity Tax, insofar as the tax on gross receipts, does not go into effect until calendar year 2013.

As we wrote in our prior blog posts with regard to other state statutes based on an economic presence, the Oklahoma statute raises significant constitutional concerns.   There is good U.S. Supreme Court precedent that stands for the proposition that the Quill/Bellas Hess physical presence standard of nexus applies to gross receipts taxes.  See Tyler Pipe Industries, Inc. v. Washington Department of Revenue, 483 U.S. 232, 107 S.Ct. 2810 (1987); Commonwealth Edison Company v. State of Montana, 453 U.S. 609, 101 S.Ct. 2946 (1981).

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