Friday, June 7, 2013

Affiliate Nexus Law Update: Minnesota and Maine Approve New Statutes, Missouri Governor Vetoes Bill

While the Marketplace Fairness Act sits in committee in Congress awaiting hearings, two more states have enacted affiliate nexus statutes imposing tax on remote sellers. The governor of another state, however, declined to add his state to the list of jurisdictions enacting counterproductive, and arguably unconstitutional, “click through” nexus laws. Below is a quick round up of recent news in Minnesota, Maine, and Missouri:

Last week, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed into law a click-through nexus bill which creates a rebuttable presumption for out-of-state retailers with in-state affiliates and which goes into effect for sales made after June 30, 2013. The new law states that an out-of-state seller is presumed to be soliciting sales in the state if it enters into an agreement with a resident for a commission or other similar consideration for referrals of potential customers, whether by a link of a website or otherwise. The presumption only applies if the seller has at least $10,000 of gross receipts in the 12 month period preceding the calendar quarter in which the sale is made. Sellers can rebut this presumption with proof that the resident did not engage in any solicitation on behalf of the seller that would satisfy the nexus requirement under the Constitution. The same bill also imposes tax on certain specified digital products which previously were exempt from sales tax.

Meanwhile, on June 5, Maine Governor Paul LePage signed into law a bill that creates a rebuttable presumption for out-of-state sellers with affiliates in Maine. Under Maine’s new law, sellers are required to register if they have an affiliate with a substantial physical presence in the state (other than a common carrier) if the affiliate sells similar products under a similar name, maintains a facility to help deliver property or services sold by the seller, shares trademarks with the seller, or provides various services to the seller’s customers. Out-of-state sellers can rebut this presumption by demonstrating that the affiliate’s activities do not help establish or maintain a market in Maine.

Maine’s new law also establishes click-through nexus for out-of-state sellers, similar to the Minnesota bill. As in Minnesota, the seller’s gross receipts must be in excess of $10,000 for the law to apply. Additionally, sellers can rebut the presumption by showing that the seller’s in-state referrer did not engage in any activity “significantly associated with the seller’s ability to establish or maintain the seller’s market” in the preceding 12 months. Proof can include signed, written statements obtained in good faith from referrers that they did not engage in solicitation on behalf of the seller. The Maine law is scheduled to go into effect on September 17, 2013.

Finally, also on June 5, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon vetoed a bill that would have added affiliate nexus and click through nexus provisions to Missouri’s tax code and would have required the Missouri DOR to enter into the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement. Legislators will have a chance to overturn the veto in September.

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