Archive for the ‘Pennsylvania’ Category

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.

How to Wynne Your Money Back in Maryland

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

Earlier this year the US Supreme Court ruled that Maryland had to issue full tax credits–including the county add-on tax–to individuals facing double taxation (typically, Maryland residents who earned income taxed in other states). Kay Bell in Don’t Mess With Taxes today noted that the Comptroller of Maryland (Maryland’s state tax agency) has created a webpage for those impacted.

The webpage gives the basics on this, and notes that the Comptroller’s office will not be contacting impacted taxpayers. There’s a link within to a web page on the Wynne Case and the Comptroller’s office has a new form (From 502LC) designed for this specific situation. There’s also a detailed FAQ.

I also need to point out this decision likely impacts other states and jurisdictions. Other states with “add-on” local taxes include Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania. However, where this impacts taxpayers is residing in a state that does not allow a tax credit for local taxes (Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, and Wisconsin are some of the states so identified) and/or residing in a local jurisdiction that does not allow such a credit (jurisdictions in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Missouri, Delaware, and Indiana have been so identified). I have not looked at each state/local jurisdiction to see who is impacted. If you think you’re impacted–remember, you would need to live in a jurisdiction that hasn’t been allowing such a tax credit and have taken such a tax credit on a recent tax return–you should contact your tax professional.

Victory for Lap Dances in Philadelphia

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

The City of Philadelphia has a tax on amusements; it’s a 5% sales tax. Are lap dances performed at adult entertainment facilities subject to that tax? A court in Pennsylvania ruled no.

Philadelphia billed three strip clubs adult entertainment facilities $1.5 million for the tax, penalties, and interest covering 2008 – 2010. The three clubs appealed to Philadelphia’s Tax Review Board that the tax was vague and couldn’t be applied to lap dances. Philadelphia lost at the Board and appealed to court.

The court ruled that the Board was correct and the tax can’t be applied on lap dances.

“The ruling is simply that the (tax) ordinance, as it exists, as it’s currently worded, doesn’t cover lap dances,” says attorney George Bochetto…, who represents two of the three clubs that were being taxed. “If the city wants to tax lap dances, they can go to City Council, ask City Council to amend the ordinance, and they can start imposing a tax on lap dances. Or anything else they want: karaoke songs, piano playing. Anything they want. But you have to put it in the ordinance. You just can’t make it up as you go along.”

The city can appeal the decision and must make a decision within one month.

New York Extends Tax Deadlines Because of Sandy; Expect the IRS, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Others to Follow

Monday, October 29th, 2012

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance announced that they have extended all tax deadlines falling from October 26 to November 14 to November 14th because of Hurricane Sandy. I expect similar actions to be taken by the IRS, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and other impacted areas.

The New York extension directly effects MCTMT tax returns on extension that would be due on October 31st; those are now due on November 14th. Also, third quarter MCTMT estimated payments for 2012 are now due on November 14th. This will likely also impact payroll tax filings.

Ex-Eagle Sues Co-Defendants

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

It seems we’re stuck in the football motif. Freddie Mitchell played for the Philadelphia Eagles and is most remembered for this play:

Earlier this year, he found himself indicted for tax fraud along with two others, Jamie Russ-Walls and Richard Walls. The alleged scheme involved phony tax refunds; Mr. Mitchell is alleged to have recruited individuals to receive the fraudulent refunds.

Well, Mr. Mitchell doesn’t think much of his co-defendants. He filed a lawsuit against them today alleging fraud, breach of contract and infliction of emotional distress. Mr. Mitchell’s attorney, Richard F. Klineburger III, told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “In the end, Freddie’s taxes are still a mess, his friends got ripped off by these con artists and his reputation is tarnished…I truly believe that he will be vindicated in the end.”

I Hope You Like Florence, Colorado

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Kevin Small has had a decidedly interesting career. He has had 30 arrests for all sorts of crimes (including violent crimes). While enjoying Pennsylvania’s state prisons, he decided to commit tax fraud from the IRS. He was “caught” after obtaining over $1 million in phony refunds; it’s unclear if the money was recovered. He received 11 additional years at ClubFed (though it’s unclear if that was to be served consecutively or concurrently with his Pennsylvania sentence).

In January, it appeared that he was free. A judge of the US District Court–apparently the same one who sentenced him to 11 years–ordered him free. He was released.

The document was forged. Oops.

Eventually, the US Marshals Service got wind of his release (on March 1st). Four days later, Mr. Small found himself back behind bars after being arrested in Philadelphia. He now faces a litany of state and federal charges. And when (if) he gets out of the maximum security prison in Pennsylvania, he has Florence, Colorado to look forward to.

News Stories: Here and Here.

Another Reason Not to be a Philadelphia Business

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

I don’t think highly of California’s business climate. Still, things could be worse: I could be in Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love has sunk to a new low.

After going after penny-ante bloggers the city’s Revenue Department has been tasked with administering a new Tobacco Tax. All businesses with a business tax account were sent a form that must be completed by September 30th, or they’ll have a new Tobacco Tax Form filing requirement…and there’s a $5,000 penalty for not filing the form.

I have a couple of clients in Philadelphia (neither sell anything). I’ll be letting them know that they must complete this useless form and return it. It is, as noted by Kelly at, a waste of time and money.

Another reason that, on the whole, I’d rather not be in Philadelphia.

On the Whole, I’d Rather Not be in Philadelphia

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Suppose you are a blogger that accepts advertising, and you reside in Philadelphia. You make $10 a year from the small blog advertisements you accept. It’s not much, but it’s something…until you get the bill from the City of Philadelphia for $300.

Philadelphia has a Business Privilege Tax that requires a license. A lifetime license costs $300; you can also buy a license for $50 a year. You will then also have to file the BPT returns each year and pay any tax owed. For the small-time blogger, it probably makes sense to avoid selling advertising as your $10 of profit just became at minimum a $40 loss.

Is Philadelphia within its rights to require a blogger who sells advertising to obtain a business license? Certainly. Overall, does it make sense? Well, that should be obvious.

Of course, Philadelphia is taking this one step further. The City of Brotherly Love requires a BPT license for, “any business…engaged in a for-profit activity in the City of Philadelphia.” So if you are a blogger in Philadelphia and set aside space for advertising on your blog but don’t sell ads, in the view of Philadelphia you need a BPT license. It’s not clear if Philadelphia is enforcing that part of their BPT yet, but they could.

There’s a solution, of course: move. If the City of Philadelphia has a bad tax structure, consider a nearby suburb. Unlike W.C. Fields, you may be far better off not being in Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania Goes for Big Brother

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Via the TaxProf Blog and others comes this horrendous advertisement from Pennsylvania:

I have nothing against Pennsylvania’s tax amnesty. I have everything against Big Brother-like methods for collecting taxes…even in a commercial.

Pennsylvania Shuts Down, Sort Of

Monday, July 9th, 2007

The Keystone State is having a budget crisis. Governor Ed Rendell (D) has ordered a shutdown of all non-essential state services in Pennsylvania. The problem? There’s no approved state budget, and with the fiscal year having begun the state has no authority to spend money.

Pennsylvania, like many states, has a divided (politically) government. Governor Rendell is a Democrat, the state’s lower house is controlled by Democrats, but the state senate is controlled by Republicans.

Governor Rendell’s proposed budget features an energy charge that would cost residents an estimated $5.40 a year. That’s one of the reasons Republicans are holding up the budget. Other issues include a new hockey arena for the Pittsburgh Penguins and a new convention center in Philadelphia—issues that Governor Rendell wants considered before the budget but issues that the Republicans want considered after the budget. Republicans also want to cut $300 million from the state’s $27.3 billion budget according to Bloomberg.

Gamblers, though, got “lucky.” A state court judge has allowed the five racinos in Pennsylvania to remain open pending a hearing tomorrow.