The California Public Utilities Commission recently released a decision finding that text messaging services could be subject to Public Purpose Program surcharges, as suggested by Commissioner Carla J. Peterman. The proposed decision does not have legal effect at this time, and the Commission is opening an additional phase during which it will consider transparency, competition, and methods to implement the proposed fees. For more information, click here: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Efile/G000/M238/K227/238227359.PDF.
I often think of the worker classification case I was involved with as a new attorney at the Employment Development Department. One of my witnesses, an independent contractor truck driver, testified that he netted over $30,000 more per year than I was grossing as a state attorney. I realized at that moment that I was involved in restricting this gentleman from engaging in a lawful business which worked very well for him. The California legislature may soon be faced with a similar burden.
The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) recently updated its list of individual and corporate tax rates, exemption credits, and other fees and requirements for 2018, based upon the state rate of inflation. The current California tax rate for corporations (not banks or financials) is 8.84%, and the maximum rate for individuals is 12.3%. For additional details, click here.
A California real estate professional was recently sentenced to 2 years in prison for filing false income tax returns that failed to report over $1 million in cash earned through marijuana sales made between 2012 and 2014. In addition, he was ordered to serve one year of supervised release and pay $466,707 in restitution to the IRS.
The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) recently published its updated list of California's top 500 tax debtors, comprising both individuals and businesses that now collectively owe the state more than $646 million in income tax. Since October 2007, this list is updated twice annually. Taxpayers who receive notice of the FTB's intent to include them on the list and then make arrangements to pay their tax debt are removed from the publication.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an opinion in U.S. v. King Mountain Tobacco Co., affirming that tribal manufacturers of tobacco products on land held in trust by the United States are subject to the federal excise tax on manufactured tobacco products. The case began as an issue of delinquent excise taxes, which the tribal entity paid until 2009 when it fell into arrears. In the recently decided case, the tribal entity claimed an exemption to these taxes under the General Allotment Act of 1887, 4 Stat. 388, and the Treaty of the Yakamas of 1855, 12 Stat. 951.
Back in June, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. that reversed Quill's requirement for physical presence to establish sales tax nexus for out-of-state businesses. Individual states are now hurrying to decide upon economic or transactional thresholds to govern who should be collecting and paying over sales tax concerning primarily e-commerce sales.
Federal and California state tax agencies have offered relief to certain taxpayers affected by the 2018 wildfires in Northern California. The Internal Revenue Service will postpone specific deadlines, waive penalties, and provide other relief as detailed here. The California Franchise Tax Board's list of qualified disasters and instructions for claiming relief can be found at this link. The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (formerly the BOE) is also offering relief for businesses impacted by the fires, including extensions to file returns and relief from certain penalties or interest. Details on the specific CDTFA programs offering relief, and instructions for requesting relief, are available here.
A taxpayer recently found out the hard way that if something sounds too good to be true, get a second opinion. His San Francisco-based CPA helped him prepare and file tax returns that failed to report over $18 million in income between December 2007 and September 2013, which resulted in $4.7 million of unpaid tax liabilities. In this case, both the taxpayer and his CPA were indicted; the taxpayer entered into a plea agreement and the tax preparer took his chances --- he lost.
The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) recently released an update about the 2018 tax filing season. As of May 31, 2018, the FTB had processed over 17 million personal income tax (PIT) and business entity (BE) returns. Ninety-one percent of personal returns and 85 percent of business returns were e-filed. The FTB issued 10.9 million personal refunds totaling $10 billion and 76,000 business refunds totaling $363 million, averaging $917 and $4,776, respectively. Over 1.3 million California Earned Income Tax Credits were claimed, and $292 million in credits/refunds were allowed.