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State and Local Tax Blog

About This Blog

Taxes in New York (TiNY) is a blog by the Hodgson Russ LLP State and Local Tax Practice Group. The weekly reports are intended to go out within 24 hours of the Division of Tax Appeals’ (DTA) publication of new ALJ Determinations and Tribunal Decisions. In addition to the weekly reports TiNY may provide analysis of and commentary on other developments in the world of New York tax law.  

TiNY Report for April 2, 2020 (reporting on DTA case issued March 26)

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I don’t know about you, but days of the week have ceased to have meaning to me. I don’t drive to and from the office Monday to Friday and then spend my weekends on the couch catching up on work that I didn’t get to during the work week. Now each day just kind of blurs into the next – and now I know that I’m not alone in this feeling, the DTA is right there with me. DTA isn’t following its routine of posting cases only on Thursday, so this can only mean one thing, the days of the week don’t matter to the DTA either. Needless to say, we’ll just keep updating the TiNY Report every time something gets posted, like today – just don’t ask me what day of the week it is.

TiNY Report for March 31, 2020 (reporting on DTA case issued March 24)

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Last week I wrote that I was worried we’d not see any output from the DTA for a while. Then I woke this morning to find the Tribunal dropped a decision on the DTA’s website yesterday.  Bonus!
These are stressful times. Before summarizing the decision I offer the following tale to, I hope, relieve some of your tension:
 
Distraught and exhausted, Chris goes to his analyst complaining of severe anxiety that is disturbing his sleep. The analyst asks, “When you are asleep, do you dream?” Chris replies, “Yes.”
The analyst asks, “And do you remember your dreams?” Chris responds, “Yes. I have two recurring dreams. In the first one, I see myself looking down on an old-fashioned three-ring circus. I feel driven to protect the people watching the circus from rain and the other natural elements. The responsibility makes me very apprehensive.”
“Ah, I see,” says the analyst. “And what do you think that dream means?” Chris says, “I don’t know.”
The analyst asks about the second dream, and Chris reports, “In the other dream, which also makes me feel very anxious, I am off camping with a family. During the day, I am stuffed away in a backpack, but, at night, I am stretched, strung-out and gaze down on the family while they sleep safely underneath me in the forest.”
The analyst says, “I think I know what your problem is. You’re two tents.”
On a much less humorous note (and  just to close the loop on this issue), New York State has officially extended the 2019 state tax return filing and payment deadline from April 15 to July 15, 2020. There is no requirement to file an extension request to obtain this automatic deferral to July 15, 2020.
For estimated tax filers for 2020, the deadline for filing and payment of the first 2020 estimated tax installment is also deferred from April 15 to July 15. There is no deferral as of yet regarding the second 2020 estimated tax installment due June 15. I mentioned this in the March 26, 2020 TiNY Report and now we have clarity from the NYS powers that be.

TiNY Report for March 26, 2020 (reporting on DTA cases issued March 16 and 17)

Are you good?

Our entire TiNY writing staff (all three of us) claims to be healthy. But since we are all practicing from off-site locations this week, I cannot confirm that information. And TiNY’s lawyers (same three people) have said that confirming health information and then publishing it here is probably a HIPAA violation anyway (damned lawyers). I can confirm that I am asymptomatic, but I have put on a few pounds as a result of my new compulsory lifestyle which has morphed from a work/life balance to a work/life merger. There are upsides, of course. My 30-minute commute is now a 30-second commute. And I (finally) have a corner office worthy of the Editor-in-Chief of the TiNY Report.

I’m as busy as I’ve ever been, doing client work, tracking COVID-19 state tax developments, and getting alerts out to our clients and other interested parties. On that issue, I know they’ve got to be busy with other stuff, but, as of this writing, the Department of Taxation and Finance has not posted anything official on its website to the effect that income tax filing and payment deadlines are extended to July 15. The Director of Budget and the Governor have stated in separate press conferences that the deadline will be (or has been) extended. The Director of Budget’s statement appeared to be predicated on the assumption that state deadlines were dependent on federal deadlines, which is not the case: New York has deadlines that are distinct from the federal deadlines. And there was an email received last night by many accountants from Governor Cuomo stating “New York State's income tax filing deadline is delayed until July 15, 2020. Because New York State requires electronic filing, the date for filing state personal income taxes automatically travels with the federal filing date, which is now July 15. Further guidelines will be released soon.” I’m not sure how electronic filing controls legal filing deadlines, but I think that the that the Department of Taxation and Finance and the IRS share the same electronic filing processing platform, so it may be practical and not legal factors that are driving these statements. And the Governor’s statement, which is the most authoritative statement out there as of now, doesn’t say anything about Q1 estimated tax payments. So, until I see official guidance from the Tax Department, I’m planning on filing my New York return and paying my New York Q1 estimate on April 15. Y’all can do what you want.

There are one Decision, three Determinations and three ALJ Orders this week. Under the circumstances, this may be all we get for a while. Until next time, I hope you’ll heed Duke’s advice to his successor as Governor of American Samoa: “Be firm, fly low and stay cool” (GB Trudeau, “Doonesbury” January 10, 1976).

Chris

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update from the NYS Division of Tax Appeals

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The NYS Division of Tax Appeals updated its website this morning regarding the agency’s operations.

TiNY Report for March 19, 2020 (reporting on DTA cases issued March 12)

To our twelve or so regular readers: 

We hope this finds you healthy and safe. 

As best as we can ascertain [sound of us knocking on a wooden desk] our SALT team is in good shape and being productive, most from the safety of their homes. We have SALT lawyers in our Buffalo, New York City, Albany, and Palm Beach Offices. Twelve of our SALT lawyers are Buffalo-based. This week, four of us have been coming into the office because: (1) we felt we’d be much more productive here than at home, (2) our skeletal staff needs someone to talk to when questions arise, (3) we need someone to track any notices that arrive by regular mail, and (4) there’s office supplies, IT equipment and, of course, toilet paper here that need protection. The quiet is surreal. Those of us in the office hope/think our risk of contracting/spreading the virus is minimal since our floor is pretty much devoid of other humans. But although we’re smart about taxes, epidemiology is not in our wheelhouse – so we’ll see. 

TiNY Report for March 12, 2020 (covering DTA cases issued March 7)

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From Chris:  Do you have whiplash from watching the balance on your 401(k)? Are you choking on the platitudes our state and national leaders are spewing (Really?! Bahrain, Finland, Malaysia and The Netherlands have tested more people for Covid-19 per capita than the USA?!)? Does your stomach roil from March Madness bracket/NBA/NHL withdrawal? TiNY wishes it could give you something for what ails you (more cowbell, perhaps?). But alas, we can’t get approval from the FDA to provide you with anything other than these reports, and this week it’s like using a baby aspirin to cure tuberculosis.

We have only one determination on which to report, and because it involves sales tax, Joe wrote it. If I had written the summary it would have been something like “Petitioners failed to offer enough evidence to prove entitlement to their sales tax refund.” But Joe being Joe, we have the following more (exhaustive? overly-meticulous? mind-numbingly comprehensive?) thorough analysis.

From Joe:  You should all know by now how much I love sales tax, and how that enthusiasm often manifests itself in overly-long reviews of the sales tax cases issued by DTA, which Chris invariably shortens. But even I’m finding it difficult to come up with much to say about this week’s lone determination. So we have the rarest of my TiNY posts: a “short, short” review of a sales tax case. What does that even look like?  Read on:

TiNY Report for March 5, 2020 (covering DTA cases issued February 27)

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Sales tax is probably the “nastiest” tax. This is due, in part, to the personal liability of the individuals responsible for running a business that does not properly discharge its sales tax obligations. If a business that you run fails to collect or remit sales tax properly, the Division can look to your bank account to satisfy the business’ debt. The lone determination this week addresses whether the Division properly assessed an individual for a corporation’s sales tax liability. Because this is the only case this week, I’ll do a bit of a deeper dive.

TiNY Report for February 20, 2020 (covering DTA cases issued February 13)

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This we week have ten (?!) orders. There are really only two issues in the ten orders, so I’ve condensed the summaries down to two: one covering two of the orders and the other covering the other eight orders. I would never ask our valued readers (all twelve or so of you) to suffer through eight of the exact same summaries.

TiNY Report for February 13, 2020 (covering DTA cases issued February 6)

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This week we have two determinations and two orders. It seems fitting that they came in pairs the day before Valentine’s Day, but, unfortunately, there was no love for the taxpayers.