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BPAA State Policy Update - July 13

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  • Missouri Gov. Signs Bill Cutting Top Income Tax Rate: Missouri taxpayers in the top income bracket will see their tax rate drop from 5.9 percent to 5.1 percent under a law signed by Gov. Mike Parson (R). H.B. 2540 also trims back a planned increase in the state’s tax deduction for pass-through income, introduces a phase-out for the deduction for federal income tax payments, and makes clear that the Missouri personal and dependency exemptions will be disallowed if the federal exemption amount is zero. It is one of several bills the state considered in the wake of the 2017 tax act (Pub. L. No. 115-97). In a July 12 statement, Parson said the bill would boost the state’s economy and “allow Missouri families to keep more of their paychecks.” He also said there would be more to come in the realm of tax relief. “This is the first step in an ongoing process,” Parson said. “We need to continue to make the Missouri tax code simple and fair. This is only the beginning of our plan to keep more money in the pockets of Missourians and Missouri small businesses.” Rep. Elijah Haahr (R), the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement that the bill will provide the largest single-year tax cut in Missouri history. “This is a big step forward in modernizing our tax policy and making Missouri a more competitive state for individuals and businesses,” Haahr said.
  • Iowa small business owners: Tax cuts being reinvested in business: A half-dozen Iowa small business owners told a top U.S. official in Iowa on Friday that federal tax cuts are boosting workers’ wages and businesses’ investment and confidence. The anecdotal evidence presented to U.S. Small Business administrator Linda McMahon does not match federal data in at least one instance: average hourly wages in the U.S. have not changed in the past year. McMahon was joined for the roundtable discussion on issues facing small businesses by Gov. Kim Reynolds, U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, and six women who own small businesses in Iowa. Reynolds led the discussion, asking each of the six business owners to discuss how federal tax cuts have benefited their businesses. The package of tax cuts, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump in December of 2017, reduced tax rates for businesses and most individuals. The Iowa small business owners thanked McMahon for the tax cuts, which they said helped them reinvest in their businesses. The planned savings were used to purchase new equipment, hire more staff and reinstitute bonuses, they said. Read more at QCTimes.
  • Texas Asks Legislators to Consider Post-'Wayfair’ Tax Code Tweaks: Texas lawmakers are being asked to consider amending portions of the tax code—including the definition of remote “seller” and “retailer”—for the 2019 legislative session to help streamline the collection of online sales tax. “We want to make sure there’s not an undue burden on these remote sellers,” Kevin Lyons, spokesperson for the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, told Bloomberg Tax July 11. The Comptroller’s office issued a July 5 memo offering a trio of considerations for lawmakers to help address the legal requirement that states not impose undue burdens on remote sellers following the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 21 South Dakota v. Wayfairruling. That decision—which tossed out Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, the Supreme Court’s 1992 physical presence threshold for when states could tax remote sales—has many states looking to expand their authority over online sales taxation. The majority in the 5-4 ruling suggested strongly that South Dakota’s law would pass constitutional muster; the statute imposes a tax collection threshold at 200 transactions or $100,000 in in-state sales. The post-Wayfair prescription follows initial guidance from the Comptroller’s office that any review or updating of rules “would not include any retroactive application of the new law to remote sellers that have no physical presence in Texas,” according to a June 27 statement responding to the ruling. 
  • State of Wayfair: Did California Just Show its Hand?: States are rushing to handle a surge of taxpayer questions in the wake of the South Dakota v. Wayfair ruling. The process isn’t perfect. Case in point: California. The state’s tax department inadvertently posted draft tax collection rules for online retailers on its website, then quickly withdrew them. The unofficial draft, obtained by Bloomberg Tax July 12, indicates the state might copy South Dakota’s law beginning Aug. 1. If that turns out to be the case, it likely would be the earliest collection deadline given by a state—earlier even than South Dakota, which is still waiting for its state Supreme Court to bless the economic nexus model in its statute, expected in mid-August. The June 21 Wayfair ruling—which tossed out Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, the Supreme Court’s 1992 physical presence threshold for when states could tax remote sales—has many states looking to expand their authority over online sales taxation. The majority in the 5-4 ruling suggested strongly that South Dakota’s law would pass constitutional muster; the statute imposes a tax collection threshold at 200 transactions or $100,000 in in-state sales. In the wake of the groundbreaking decision, dozens of states that haven’t already done so are mulling whether to copy South Dakota’s law. 
  • New Jersey: Narrowly averting a government shutdown, New Jersey lawmakers and Gov. Phil Murphy reached agreement on a budget last Tuesday night. The deal raises income taxes on individuals with income over $5 million per year, adds a two percent surtax on large corporations, requires "combined reporting" for multi-state corporations, increases the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), creates a new credit for low-income families with children, and improves funding for education, infrastructure, and the state's underfunded pension system.
  • California is facing two major tax showdowns: With the gas tax repeal initiative qualifying for the November 2018 ballot, Republicans are seeking to use the initiative to shape Congressional outcomes, but construction companies, labor groups, and civic organizations are fighting back. And after lawmakers were strong-armed into banning local soda taxes for the next 12 years, a coalition led by the state's major medical organizations has announced its plans to fight back with a statewide soda tax initiative to take to voters in November 2020.
  • Washington state voters may have an opportunity to revisit the question of adopting a carbon tax via ballot this November. The state initiative is not surprisingly not popular among the big oil companies. And the beverage industry is hard at work to secure another statewide soda tax ban on the west coast, hoping to cap via ballot initiative existing soda taxes (in Seattle) and prevent other localities from adopting new soda taxes. 

 

SPORTS BETTING

  • Ohio: Breaking Down the Possible Ohio Sports Betting Scene: More questions than answers are the result of two Ohio lawmakers initiating the process on Thursday of establishing a framework for sports betting in the Buckeye State. Senate Bill 316 was introduced by Sens. John Eklund, a Munson Township Republican, and Sean O’Brien, a Bazetta Democrat, however, the legislation has few specifics on what legal, Nevada-style sports wagering may look like in the state. O’Brien says the bill is deliberately devoid of any details including if wagers on Ohio’s major professional sports teams in Cleveland (Indians-MLB, Browns-NFL, Cavaliers-NBA), Columbus (Blue Jackets-NHL) and Cincinnati (Reds-MLB, Bengals-NFL) will be legal. Betting on national college football power Ohio State and other Ohio college teams is also unaddressed. Read more at Sports Handle.
  • New Jersey Businesses Get $16M in Sports Bets in First 2 Weeks: Two casinos and a racetrack in New Jersey took in $16.4 million in sports bets during the first two weeks such wagers were legal in the state. Figures released Thursday by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement show the Borgata and Ocean Resort casinos, in Atlantic City, and the Monmouth Park racetrack, in Oceanport, saw gross sports betting revenue of nearly $3.5 million on those bets. But regulators caution that bets involving future outcomes, such as the winner of baseball's World Series or football's Super Bowl, won't be paid out for months. Just over $1 million was wagered on such bets. Read more at NBC Philadelphia.
  • Oregon Lottery Prepping Mobile App, With Mobile Sports Betting to Follow: The Oregon Lottery is laying the groundwork to roll out Oregon sports betting with mobile/online functionality. The first iteration of the app, which will allow players to see if they hold a winning lottery ticket, is planned for later this summer. “The fact of the matter is that when our app launches, there won’t be any ability to buy any of our products,” Oregon Lottery Senior Public Affairs Officer Chuck Baumann told Sports Handle Monday. “It will simply be that players will have ability to check tickets to see if they are winners, as well as get other information, like jackpot alerts, a look at where (lottery) money goes, and there will be a retailer finder. At some point in time, and we’re not sure what that’s going to look like, we will offer games and some sort of sports betting.” Oregon is one of four states that was grandfathered in under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which prohibited sports betting in most states. The Supreme Court struck down the act on May 14, and Oregon already has language on the books that would allow for sports betting, so no new legislation needs to be passed before the state can offer sports betting. Read more at Sports Handle.

 

MINIMUM WAGE & LABOR

  • Michigan minimum wage ballot initiative challenged in court: A movement to pay Michigan workers $12 an hour by 2022 and abolish the tipped wage has met a legal challenge. The hospitality industry group Michigan Opportunity filed a lawsuit Friday demanding that the Michigan secretary of state scrap the proposed November ballot initiative. The proposal was organized by the Michigan One Fair Wage committee to raise the state's current $9.25 an hour wage. It also calls for phasing out the $3.52-an-hour reduced minimum wage for tipped workers by 2024. The challenge says the initiative fails to reproduce the parts of Michigan's existing minimum wage law that it seeks to amend.

 

FOOD & BEVERAGE

  • Big Gulp! A Soda Tax War is Coming: In the tit-for-tat battle over soda taxes, the ball is now in the industry’s court—how will it respond to the announcement that healthcare advocates plan to push a 2020 initiative to allow taxes on sodas? A soda tax ban came about because legislators, prompted by city officials and union representatives, agreed to a bill to ban soda taxes for more than a decade if backers of an initiative that would require a two-thirds vote on all local taxes would pull the measure. Gov. Brown’s signature on the bill was still drying when healthcare groups led by the California Medical and Dental Associations announced plans for a 2-cents an ounce soda tax that also would allow local governments to enact soda taxes, undercutting the recently passed bill. The beverage industry that financially backed the Taxpayer Protection Act will now draw up a new strategy to counter the proposed initiative. The Taxpayer Protection Act polled well and business supporters could reintroduce it for 2020 so that voters could choose between a measure that would raise soda taxes and one that would require greater votes to enact them and other local taxes, as well. Read more at Fox and Hounds Daily.
  • California banned new soda taxes. Could it happen in Pennsylvania?: California cities and towns are now banned from enacting taxes on soda — thanks to a new state law. A similar bill that would eliminate Philadelphia’s tax on soda and other sweetened beverages is pending in the Pennsylvania House. But it’s less likely to become a reality. Legislators have taken no action on it since the bill passed out of committee in May. “With the limited number of days left in session, I do not feel there is a realistic shot to move the bill,” its primary sponsor, Rep. Mark Mustio (R., Allegheny), said in an emailed statement Wednesday. Even if it doesn’t pass, the proposed bill, the California law, and similar measures under consideration in other states show that the beverage industry it taking its fight against soda taxes to state governments in the interest of efficiency. Success in state houses across the country would allow the beverage industry to prevent or repeal taxes on soda rather than lobbying local governments in every town where leaders consider passing one. American Beverage Association spokeswoman Lauren Kane said that beverage companies employ and support thousands of people and businesses who are hurt by taxes on soda and other groceries. Read more at The Inquirer.
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