Archive for the ‘North Carolina’ Category

The Flow of AGI from One State to Another

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

From watchdog.org comes an interesting interactive map showing how money has flowed from state to state. Back when I moved to Nevada from California, I noted this issue. Here’s yet more verification that this is real.

The five biggest losers were:
1. New York ($68.10 billion in annual Adjusted Gross Income (AGI))
2. California ($45.27 billion in annual AGI)
3. Illinois ($29.27 billion in annual AGI)
4. New Jersey ($20.62 billion in annual AGI)
5. Ohio ($18.39 billion in annual AGI)

The five biggest winners were:
1. Florida ($95.61 billion in annual AGI)
2. Arizona ($28.30 billion in annual AGI)
3. North Carolina ($25.12 billion in annual AGI)
4. Texas ($24.94 billion in annual AGI)
5. Nevada ($18.17 billion in annual AGI)

Sure, some of this is retirees moving from the snow belt to the sun belt. But California is anything but part of the snow belt; it’s clear that successful individuals are fleeing high tax states for low tax states. We here in Nevada are appreciative of the $9.59 billion in annual AGI that has moved from the Bronze Golden State to the Silver State.

Interestingly, the interactive map allows you to look county-by-county. The areas that one would think would show AGI growth are losing AGI. The area around Silicon Valley has lost AGI; so have Los Angeles and Orange County. Sure, some of this is retirees moving to the desert (Riverside County, which includes Palm Springs, showed an increase in AGI). However, there is no chance that this is just caused by retirees.

Taxes matter, and individuals absolutely do relocate because of taxes.

A Lowe Blow

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

I know the headline is a bad pun, but I couldn’t resist. Former NBA star and current Utah Jazz assistant coach Sidney Lowe was arrested on Monday on state tax evasion charges. Lowe is accused of not filing North Carolina tax returns from 2009 through 2011. The charges are misdemeanors, but as Wesley Snipes can tell you, jail time is still possible with such charges. Lowe is a North Carolina resident, so his income is subject to North Carolina tax.

The Deseret News (of Salt Lake City) reports that Mr. Lowe will continue with his coaching duties. The Salt Lake Tribune printed Mr. Lowe’s apology to the team and fans: “This is a personal matter that I take very seriously. I am working very hard to get the issue resolved in a timely manner and I am cooperating fully with all parties involved.”

Mr. Lowe faces a March 19th court date in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Amazon 1, North Carolina 0

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Back in April I reported on Amazon.com’s petition for declaratory relief from North Carolina; the North Carolina Department of Revenue requested information on every purchase of goods since 2005 in the Tar Heel State. And that request was rather inclusive:

By letter hand delivered on March 19, 2010, to Amazon in Seattle, Washington (the “March Information Request”), the DOR stated that Amazon’s initial response to Question 16 of the December Information Request omitted the “Bill to Name; Bill to Address (Street, City, State, and Zip); Ship to Name; Ship to Address (Street); Product/item code or description” (the “Customer Data”). The DOR demanded that Amazon provide this information “for examination” on or before April 19, 2010.

Well, the District Court has made its ruling in Amazon.com v. Lay

The DOR concedes that it has no legitimate need or use for having details as to North Carolina Amazon customers’ literary, music, and film purchases. In spite of this, the DOR refuses to give up the detailed information about Amazon’s customers’ purchases, while at the same time requesting the identities of the customers and, arguably, detailed records of their purchases, including the expressive content. With no compelling need for both sets of information, the DOR’s request runs afoul of the First Amendment. It bears noting, too, that the DOR’s requests for information were made solely in the context of calculating Amazon’s potential tax liability. Amazon has provided all of the data necessary to determine its tax liability, except any potential tax exemptions. The DOR has failed to articulate the compelling need to calculate these possible exemptions, particularly where it has admitted that it can and will assess Amazon at the highest rate and it would permit Amazon to “challenge the assessment and … establish that exemptions or lower tax rates applied to some products.” Even assuming there is a compelling need to calculate Amazon’s tax liability inclusive of exemptions, the DOR’s requests are not the least restrictive means to obtain the information. The request is overbroad. The Court GRANTS the motion for summary judgment.

So on First Amendment grounds Amazon wins this battle. Amazon also wins based on the Video Privacy Protection Act (the NC DOR’s request would cause Amazon to violate that act).

Note, though, that the court specifically noted that Amazon must comply with valid tax rulings. Of course, whether Amazon must collect North Carolina tax will continue to be fought….

North Carolina Has a Use for Amazon

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Via the Volokh Conspiracy comes the news that North Carolina is seeking the names of everyone who has bought anything from Amazon.com since 2003. Now, why in the world would the North Carolina Department of Revenue want to know what everyone in North Carolina has purchased from Amazon?

Use Tax.

When you buy something from an out-of-state merchant that has no physical presence in the state, you are supposed to pay Use Tax. Use Tax laws have, for the most part, been on the books for years (California’s law dates back to the 1930s). North Carolina tax authorities figure that if they sent an administrative summons to Amazon maybe they could find $16 million or so of easy money.

In December, North Carolina sent the first request to Amazon. Amazon sent a list of what North Carolinians purchased from Amazon by product, city, and ZIP Code, but left off the customer names and addresses. There’s no question that Amazon isn’t subject to collecting sales tax in North Carolina–they have no offices, employees, or any physical ties to the state. So the “audit” of Amazon’s sales tax collections in North Carolina would seem to be just a grab for the names of state residents who hadn’t paid Use Tax.

And that was basically confirmed. North Carolina wasn’t satisfied with the initial data that Amazon sent:

By letter hand delivered on March 19, 2010, to Amazon in Seattle, Washington (the “March Information Request”), the DOR stated that Amazon’s initial response to Question 16 of the December Information Request omitted the “Bill to Name; Bill to Address (Street, City, State, and Zip); Ship to Name; Ship to Address (Street); Product/item code or description” (the “Customer Data”). The DOR demanded that Amazon provide this information “for examination” on or before April 19, 2010.

That comes from the request for Declaratory Relief filed by Amazon in federal court in Seattle. “Amazon respectfully asks this Court for … [a] declaration that, to the extent the March Information Request demands that Amazon disclose its customers’ names, addresses or any other personal information, it violates the First Amendment and 18 U.S.C. § 2710 .”

If North Carolina is successful, expect every state to come calling on every online merchant demanding sales information. I might even get summonsed by Florida, a state where there’s sales tax on services (I do have clients in Florida). This will be a very important battle that will likely shape sales and use tax law for some time.

What Do Hawaii, North Carolina, New York, Illinois, and California Have In Common?

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

The Tax Foundation noted last week that several states will be delaying income tax refunds. Hawaii won’t be sending out refunds until July 1st; North Carolina will send them out “when they feel like it,” and New York Governor David Paterson wants to delay refunds for those who file in March. Meanwhile, Illinois is simply not paying its debts.

Meanwhile, it’s almost a certainty that California will be joining this list. Barring a miracle in the Legislature (the Democrats and Republicans and Governor Schwarzenegger coming to an agreement in the next few weeks), registered warrants (aka IOUs) will have to be sent out beginning in late March or early April. Controller John Chiang implied this when he said the state was running out of cash. Meanwhile, the Democrats in the legislature continue to pass big ticket programs (e.g. healthcare legislation) so it’s as if they’re living in dreamland.

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