Archive for the ‘Nevada’ Category

The 2020 State Business Tax Climate Index: The Usual Laggards, but Some New Faces on Top

Thursday, October 24th, 2019

The Tax Foundation released its annual State Business Tax Climate Index. There weren’t many surprises with the best states:

1. Wyoming
2. South Dakota
3. Alaska
4. Florida
5. Montana
6. New Hampshire
7. Nevada
8. Oregon
9. Utah
10. Indiana

This is the first time I remember Oregon in the top-ten of this list. These states share one of two attributes: the lack of certain taxes (such as individual income taxes) or low tax rates across all taxes (such as in Utah and Indiana). Meanwhile, it’s “Bring me the usual suspects” for the bottom ten:

41. Louisiana
42. Iowa
43. Maryland
44. Vermont
45. Minnesota
46. Arkansas
47. Connecticut
48. California
49. New York
50. New Jersey

As the Tax Foundation says, “The states in the bottom 10 tend to have a number of afflictions in common: complex, nonneutral taxes with comparatively high rates. New Jersey, for example, is hampered by some of the highest property tax burdens in the country, has the second highest-rate corporate income tax in the country and a particularly aggressive treatment of international income, levies an inheritance tax, and maintains some of the nation’s worst-structured individual income taxes.”

I noted Oregon being in the top ten, but the state is likely going to fall out soon. Oregon adopted a gross receipts business tax, and that’s almost certain to send the state out of the top ten next year. Oregon will be one of only two states with both a corporate income tax and a gross receipts tax.

My home state, Nevada, ranks near the top in individual income tax (fifth), which isn’t a surprise since we don’t have that tax. (A few ‘individuals’ will owe the Nevada gross receipts tax on their businesses, which is why the Silver State doesn’t share the top ranking here.) We also rank towards the top (tenth) in property tax. We’re right in the middle for corporate income tax (25th) which shows the impact of the gross receipts tax. We’re towards the bottom (44th) in sales tax (Nevada sales taxes are relatively high; the rate is 8.25% in Clark County) and in unemployment insurance tax (47th). But overall Nevada is a good state for taxation; this is one reason I moved here in 2011.

Contrast that with California. Corporate taxation is actually in the middle (28th) and property tax is in the top half (16th); the property tax ranking is due to Proposition 13 which Democrats in the Golden State are proposing to partially due away with. Unemployment Insurance Tax ranks 22nd, about average. It’s individual income tax which is the major contributor to California’s low ranking. The state ranks 49th. California also fares poorly in sales tax, ranking 45th.

Note that taxation is just one piece of why businesses relocate. It’s an important component, but it’s not everything. Another major factor is regulatory burden, and that’s another place where California ranks at or near the bottom. This is something I’ll be reporting on in the future.

As to individuals who state that businesses don’t move because of taxes, that’s hogwash. Businesses do move because of this, and will continue to do so. It is just one reason, but it’s a very important reason. California lawmakers who look at the map provided by the Tax Foundation (showing California in dark grey (dark grey indicates a bad score) while numerous neighboring states are in blue (indicated a good score) should be worried. But given how I think the Democratic majority in Sacramento thinks, it’s unlikely they’ll do so.

Nevada Wises Up on Exempt Commerce Tax Companies

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

Nevada has a tax on businesses called the “Commerce Tax.” This tax impacts businesses with gross receipts of $4 million or more. If your Nevada business makes less than that, you don’t owe the tax. However, you still had to file a return stating that you didn’t owe the tax.

The state legislature wised up on this:

The 80th (2019) Nevada Legislative session has changed the filing requirement for Commerce Tax. Pursuant to Senate Bill 497, businesses whose Nevada gross revenue for the 2018-2019 taxable year is $4,000,000 or less, are no longer required to file a commerce tax return.

Businesses whose Nevada gross revenue for the 2018-2019 taxable year is over $4,000,000 are still required to file a commerce tax return by August 14, 2019.

I received an email notifying me of this:

This e-mail is to inform you that the filing requirement for Commerce Tax has been changed. If the Nevada gross revenue of your business from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019 was $4,000,000 or less, your business is no longer required to file a Commerce Tax return and your Commerce Tax Account will be automatically closed, effective June 30, 2019.

If the Nevada gross revenue for your business from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019 was over $4,000,000, your business is still required to file a Commerce Tax return on or before August 14th, 2019.

In the event your Nevada gross revenue exceeds the $4,000,000 threshold in a future year, it is your responsibility to file a return for the year. Failure to do so may result in the assessment of penalty and interest.

It had to cost something for the Department of Taxation to process the $0 returns (which is what most businesses file); Nevada will now save that processing cost. And that’s one less form I have to file. This is a win-win for Nevada and its businesses.

Bozo Tax Tip #9: Nevada Corporations

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

Actually, this isn’t that much of a Bozo Tax Tip. Nevada is a great state to have your business in. But the key is being in Nevada (or operating in multiple states and selecting Nevada as your corporate domicile). You cannot escape California taxes by being a Nevada corporation if you’re still operating in the Bronze Golden State.

If the corporation operates in California it will need to file a California tax return. Period. It doesn’t matter if the corporation is a California corporation, a Delaware corporation, or a Nevada corporation.

Now, if you’re planning on moving to Nevada forming a business entity in the Silver State can be a very good idea (as I know). But thinking you’re going to avoid California taxes just because you’re a Nevada entity is, well, bozo.

No Man Is an Island

Monday, March 11th, 2019

On Saturday a superb editorial appeared in the Providence Journal, “When Taxpayers Flee a State.” Here’s an excerpt:

Despite its name, Rhode Island is not an island unto itself. People are free to come and go, including business executives who create jobs and pay high taxes. That is why the state has to be careful that its tax policies do not drive away too many investors or taxpayers…

In high-tax Connecticut next door, billionaires are already escaping. As Chris Edwards of the libertarian Cato Institute notes (“Wealthy Taxpayers are Fleeing These States in Droves,” Daily Caller, Oct. 2), Connecticut in recent years “has lost stock trading entrepreneur Thomas Peterffy (worth $20 billion), executive C. Dean Metropoulos ($2 billion), and hedge fund managers Paul Tudor Jones ($4 billion) and Edward Lampert ($3 billion).”

People can, and will, relocate no matter how nice the climate. I loved living in Irvine, California, but California’s business climate drove me (and I’m not a billionaire) to low-tax, low-regulation Nevada. Rhode Island has lost $1.4 billion of income over the last ten years. The solution for both a small state (Rhode Island) and a large state (California) is identical: low tax rates over a broad swath, rather than very high tax rates in narrow areas. Of course, California now has high taxes over almost everything and a regulatory climate that is the worst in the country.

Taxes No Longer the Top Reason for Businesses Leaving California

Monday, December 24th, 2018

California: Good News! Your taxes, tops in the country, are no longer the top reason businesses are leaving the Bronze Golden State. It’s not that taxes have improved; rather, your laws and regulatory climate have exceeded taxes as the reason businesses are departing. That’s not just my view; it’s the view of one of the nation’s leading business relocation experts, Joseph Vranich.

Mr. Vranich has published his annual report on business relocations from California, titled “It’s Time for Companies to Leave California’s Toxic Business Climate.” Mr. Vranich took his own advice: He moved his business from Irvine, California (the same city I resided in) to Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania. In an article in Western Journal Mr. Vranich notes:

I moved for three reasons — taxes, regulations and quality-of-life. First, I’ll have greater freedom in my business now that I’m free of California’s notorious regulatory environment and threats of frivolous lawsuits that hurt small businesses like mine.

Finally, we are enjoying a superior qualify-of-life here. We bought a house larger than what we had in California for about half the cost. We can afford to engage in more activities because the cost-of-living in Cranberry Township is 44 percent lower than in Irvine.

Mr. Vranich cites an example of California’s regulatory climate: California’s Immigrant Worker Protection Act.

The new Immigrant Worker Protection Act states that an employer that follows Federal immigration law is now violating California law, is committing a crime, and is subject to fines. However, it’s also a crime if employer fails to follow Federal immigration law.

“Think about it. California may penalize someone in business who is a legal citizen operating a legal business that is in compliance with every Federal, state and local law, who pays state and local taxes, and who creates employment – and all that counts for nothing in the state’s eyes,” said Vranich. “Signs are that California politicians’ contempt for business will persist.”

For the record, a federal court would likely enjoin California from prosecuting anyone under this new act based on the Federal Supremacy clause. Still, a business might have to pay a lot in legal fees to deal with this. Alternatively, if you’re not in California you don’t have to worry about this.

Consider: You can stay in California, pay the country’s highest state tax rates and deal with a regulatory hellhole, or you can live in Austin, Reno, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Seattle, or Dallas and pay little or no state income taxes and not deal with California’s toxic business climate. I made the move seven years ago, and am as happy as ever I’ve done so. Sure, the weather isn’t as nice as in Irvine but I don’t deal with California’s toxic business climate and the cost of living is lower.

Or as I’ve said before, California: Helping businesses in other states.

Should I Violate Federal Law or State Law?

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

Suppose you have a federal license to perform your occupation in your state of residence. That license allowed you to do [whatever it is you do] anywhere in the United States. Now, further suppose your state legislature passed a law specifically overriding that license, and, in fact, making some of [whatever it is you do] illegal under state law. And further suppose that if you obey that new state law you would be violating federal law as you would not be performing [whatever it is you do] properly under federal law. No state legislature could be that stupid uninformed, right?

One should never take a bet against legislatures doing dumb things, and the actions over the past fifteen months of the Nevada legislature demonstrate that. In 2017 the Nevada Legislature passed AB 324 that amended NRS (Nevada Revised Statutes) Chapter 240A; that reclassified Enrolled Agents (what my federal license is) as people who performed “Document preparation services.” We would have to register with the Nevada Secretary of State, post a surety bond, and we would not be able to negotiate with anyone else or communicate to anyone else the position of a client; if we did so, we would be subject to penalties including possible imprisonment. Hmmm, might an Enrolled Agent need to negotiate on behalf of clients with tax agencies such as the IRS and collect confidential information?

The Nevada Society of Enrolled Agents (NVSEA) filed a lawsuit, and in November 2017 had a temporary injunction placed on enforcement of the law. Last month the court heard arguments, and the ruling came out on August 16th.

The Court finds, that as a result of the amendments made to Chapter 240A by AB 324, Nevada Enrolled Agents cannot comply with both federal and state law. Under federal regulations, Nevada Enrolled Agents must provide competent tax advice, must assist clients in preparing accurate tax returns and other forms, must collect documentation which supports a client’s position and must competently and diligently represent taxpayer clients in proceedings before the IRS. Under Chapter 240A as amended, Enrolled Agents in Nevada are prohibited from performing these duties and face civil and criminal liability for violations of the state law.

The Court went on to note why the law is unconstitutional:

This Court finds that Chapter 240A…hinders and obstructs the free use of the Enrolled Agents’ license to practice before the IRS…Pursuant to NRS 240A.240(5), Enrolled Agents are no longer able to “negotiate with another person concerning the rights or responsibilities of a client, communicate the position of a client to another person or convey the position of another person to a client.” This contradicts Section 10.2(4) of Circular 230, which allows agents to “correspond[] and communicat[e] wit hthe Internal Revenue Service” and engage in “matters connected with a presentation to the Internal Revenue Service or any of its officers or employees relating to a taxpayer’s rights, privileges, or liabilities.” The amended law also prohibits an Enrolled Agent from “appear[ing] on behalf of a client in a court proceeding or other formal adjudicative proceeding….” NRS 240A.240(6). This provision conflicts with Section 10.2 of Circular 230, which allows agents to “represent[] a client at conferences, hearings, and meetings.” The amended law prohibits Enrolled Agents from providing “advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation to a client about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options or the selection of documents or strategies….” NRS 240A.240(7) This contradicts Circular 230, which states that Enrolled Agents may give written advice regarding tax matters. 31 C.F.R. §§ 10.2, 10.33, 10.37. Finally, the amended statute contradicts Circular 230 because it requires an Enrolled Agent to provide a copy of a client’s file to government entities. NRS 240A.220(1). Yet, pursuant to IRC §§ 7525, 7216, 6713, Enrolled Agents must keep client information confidential and only share client files when ordered to do by a court…

Accordingly, the Court finds that Chapter 240A of the Nevada Revised Statutes, as amended by A.B. 324, conflicts with federal law to the extent it seeks to regulate Enrolled Agents who are authorized to practice before the Internal Revenue Service. The law is therefore unconstitutional pursuant to the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, Article VI, Clause 2.

The permanent injunction was granted by the Court. While the Nevada Attorney General can appeal (the office has another 20 days or so to do so), it’s not likely; the law is clearly unconstitutional on its face.

There are two points I want to make. First, I didn’t write about this earlier because this law was so stupid it was clear to me that it was going to be found unconstitutional. Even before the temporary injunction was granted the Nevada Secretary of State’s office didn’t enforce the law as it pertained to Enrolled Agents.

The second point is how this law was enacted. The state legislature didn’t contact any tax professionals about the law. There apparently is a problem with some document preparer services, and the Assemblyman who wrote AB 324 made an assumption that Enrolled Agents were part of the problem. We’re actually part of the solution in that we help resolve taxpayer problems, but I digress. I’m a member of the National Association of Enrolled Agents and NVSEA to help with legislative policies vis-a-vis Enrolled Agents. While I don’t agree with all of what the NAEA would like to pass, I agree with most of it. And my dues and contributions to NVSEA helped fight an uninformed law.

No matter your profession, stay informed. Talk to your local legislators. Generally, state legislators are approachable and most want to be informed. I’m making a point of meeting mine later this year, and explaining what Nevada Enrolled Agents do, what we had to do, and why we did what we did. Unfortunately, we remain the Lichtenstein of the tax world.

Bozo Tax Tip #9: Nevada Corporations

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

As we continue with our Bozo Tax Tips–things you absolutely, positively shouldn’t do but somewhere someone will try anyway–it’s time for an old favorite. Given the business and regulatory climate in California, lots of businesses are trying to escape taxes by becoming a Nevada business entity. While I’m focusing on California and Nevada, the principle applies to any pair of states.

Nevada is doing everything it can to draw businesses from California. Frankly, California is doing a lot to draw businesses away from the Bronze Golden State. But just like last year you need to beware if you’re going to incorporate in Nevada.

If the corporation operates in California it will need to file a California tax return. Period. It doesn’t matter if the corporation is a California corporation, a Delaware corporation, or a Nevada corporation.

Now, if you’re planning on moving to Nevada forming a business entity in the Silver State can be a very good idea (as I know). But thinking you’re going to avoid California taxes just because you’re a Nevada entity is, well, bozo.

Bozo Tax Tip #7: Nevada Corporations

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

As we continue with our Bozo Tax Tips–things you absolutely, positively shouldn’t do but somewhere someone will try anyway–it’s time for an old favorite. Given the business and regulatory climate in California, lots of businesses are trying to escape taxes by becoming a Nevada business entity. While I’m focusing on California and Nevada, the principle applies to any pair of states.

Nevada is doing everything it can to draw businesses from California. Frankly, California is doing a lot to draw businesses away from the Bronze Golden State. But just like last year you need to beware if you’re going to incorporate in Nevada.

If the corporation operates in California it will need to file a California tax return. Period. It doesn’t matter if the corporation is a California corporation, a Delaware corporation, or a Nevada corporation.

Now, if you’re planning on moving to Nevada forming a business entity in the Silver State can be a very good idea (as I know). But thinking you’re going to avoid California taxes just because you’re a Nevada entity is, well, bozo.

Kiplinger’s Tax Friendly and Tax Unfriendly States: No Surprises

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

Kiplinger released its list of the tax friendly and least tax-friendly states in the US. There really aren’t any surprises:

Here are the bottom ten:

1. California
2. Hawaii
3. Connecticut
4. New York
5. New Jersey
6. Minnesota
7. Maine
8. Vermont
9. Illinois
10. Rhode Island

And the top ten:

1. Wyoming
2. Alaska
3. Florida
4. Nevada
5. Arizona
6. Louisiana
7. South Carolina
8. South Dakota
9. Mississippi
10. Delaware

Let’s look at my former state (California) and my current state (Nevada) as to the differences. “The Golden State is home to movie stars, beautiful beaches and the highest income tax rates in the U.S., putting it at the top of our list of Kiplinger’s top ten least tax-friendly states. Californians pay lower property taxes than residents of other high-tax states, but, in a state with some of the highest real estate prices in the U.S., they’re no bargain.” There’s not much to add: California is a very high-tax, high-regulation state.

Now let’s look at Nevada. “Another no-income-tax haven, Nevada is one of Kiplinger’s top ten most tax-friendly states. Where does it get its money? Sales tax: the average combined state and local tax rate is 7.98%.” Kiplinger missed another huge source of funding for Nevada: casinos. No matter, Nevada is a low-tax, low-regulation, business friendly environment. I’m happy I’m here.

Nevada Commerce Tax Filing Deadline Is Monday

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

The deadline for filing Nevada Commerce Tax returns is Monday, August 15th. The tax is a modified gross receipts tax on businesses with more than $4 million of Nevada gross receipts. However, all Nevada businesses must file the returns. Impacted businesses should have received a welcome letter from the Nevada Department of Taxation; however, non-receipt of the letter doesn’t exempt you from filing.

Filing an “exempt” return (less than $4 million in revenues) took me about one minute after I registered with the Nevada Department of Taxation. The online form was simple and straightforward; the hardest part was inputting the NAICS Code for my business (though there’s direct searching within the online form).