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Noonan’s Notes Blog

About This Blog

Noonan’s Notes Blog is written by a team of Hodgson Russ tax attorneys led by the blog’s namesake, Tim Noonan. Noonan’s Notes Blog regularly provides analysis of and commentary on developments in the world of New York and multistate tax law. Noonan's Notes Blog is a winner of CreditDonkey's Best Tax Blogs Award 2017.

Contributors

Timothy Noonan 
Ariele Doolittle
Joseph Endres
Daniel Kelly
Elizabeth Pascal 
Craig Reilly
Andrew Wright 

Showing 4 posts from August 2015.

Another Significant Development in the Statutory Residency Area!

Trap in tax lawThere are always “traps” in the tax law, where taxpayers unwittingly walk into a tax problem that they didn’t see coming. In the residency area, some taxpayers often got trapped on a move-in or move-out situation, with the Tax Department taking the position that “statutory residency” trumps “domicile.” Thus, a taxpayer who didn’t move into New York until, say, August of a particular tax year still could be taxed as a full-year resident if he or she ran afoul of New York’s statutory residency test (i.e., the taxpayer maintained a permanent place of abode for almost the whole year and spent more than 183 days in the state). Indeed, the Nonresident Audit Guidelines (see page 64) contained a whole section about this.

Guess what? We may have closed this trap! 

Hard Hats Required: Sales Taxes & Capital Improvements - Some Practical Pointers

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Businessman holding hard hatWe recently authored an article in State Tax Notes analyzing New York’s complicated rules affecting sales taxation of contractor services and capital improvements. In this follow-up post, we want to highlight a few practical problems and issues that taxpayers frequently confront by taking a look at several recently litigated cases involving capital improvements.

Businesses become entangled in these rules quite often. The rules themselves are complicated, and the answer to the question “Is this subject to tax?” nearly always depends upon the specific facts. For anyone who is sitting down to perform a client’s or company’s weekly bookkeeping or, worse, for those who are facing an audit, we can draw a few useful lessons by looking at the recent misfortune of others.  A quick survey reveals that, so far this year, at least four different cases involving claims of capital improvements went all the way to trial and were litigated in New York.  In each case the auditor – not the taxpayer – won.  Let’s take a quick peek at these cases to see why.

What’s So Interesting About Interest Rates?

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A pile of money representing compounded interestFor those of us who regularly handle state audits, the focus is usually on the legal or factual arguments as to why no additional taxes are due. And it’s great when our clients can walk away with no additional taxes to pay. But in many cases, a “win” means negotiating a reasonable settlement of a difficult issue. In those cases, the final bill can come as a shock to taxpayers, once interest is included. Particularly with interest rates at historical lows, we expect those low rates to carry over to our tax bills. For the IRS and states that base their interest rate on the federal short-term rate or a similar metric, that’s true. The current IRS interest rate on individual underpayments and overpayments is 3%—not so bad.

But states are by no means required to follow the IRS on interest rates, although quite a few do. Some states may start with the IRS underpayment rate but then tack on a few percentage points (e.g. Virginia adds 2%). Other states, such as North Carolina (5%), Kansas (4%), Michigan (4.25%), and Oregon (4%), also keep their rates in line with overall interest rates.

Out-of-State Attorney Not Subject to New York State Income Tax

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Map of New York StateWe have all heard the jokes. “How many lawyers does it take to screw in a light bulb?” “Why won’t sharks attack lawyers?” “What’s the difference between an accountant and a lawyer?” Or, “How many lawyer jokes are there?” Well, actually, the last one’s easy. Only three. The rest are true stories.

But despite the general public’s lampooning of attorneys, New York State taxpayers might have found a lawyer they can celebrate (in addition, of course, to their friends at Hodgson Russ). Meet Patrick J. Carr, a retired New York State attorney living in Florida. Last month, a state administrative law judge (ALJ) ruled that Mr. Carr did not have to pay a $68,000 tax bill for services rendered in Florida. Mr. Carr was a member of the New York and New Jersey state bars and was admitted pro hac vice in Florida (for non-lawyer readers, “pro hac vice” is a fancy Latin way of saying that an attorney who has not been admitted to practice in a certain jurisdiction is permitted to help litigate a particular case in that state). And although Mr. Carr did not perform any services or maintain any office in the state, New York attempted to tax his income solely because of his New York law license. Are you starting to root for Mr. Carr? Thankfully, however, ALJ Barbara Russo dismissed the state’s position and announced that “merely holding a license to practice in New York is not the equivalent of carrying on a profession in New York state.” So why did New York think that it had the right to tax Mr. Carr?

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