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Back-to-school may look different in 2020, but that doesn’t mean that parents and teachers won’t be shopping. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers could spend a record amount in 2020 to prepare students for school and college as they buy more laptops and computer accessories for online and hybrid schools. 

“By any measure, this is an unprecedented year with great uncertainty, including how students will get their education this fall whether they are in kindergarten or college,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Most parents don’t know whether their children will be sitting in a classroom or in front of a computer in the dining room, or a combination of the two. But they do know the value of an education and are navigating uncertainty and unknowns so that students are prepared.”

According to the NRF survey, parents with children in elementary school through high school say they plan to spend an average of $789.49 per family, topping the previous record of $696.70. College students and their families expect to pay an average of $1,059.20 per family, more than last year’s record of $976.78. Total spending for K-12 and college combined is projected to reach $101.6 billion, topping last year’s $80.7 billion and exceeding the $100 billion mark.

Not surprisingly, many shoppers plan to buy online – and top of the list? Computers and other electronics. 

With those expenses looming, parents are often looking for opportunities to save some cash. One of the ways that they do it? Sales tax holidays.

Here’s a look at states offering taxpayers a break on sales tax for back-to-school items this year:

  • Connecticut (August 16-22) Exemptions apply to purchases of clothing and footwear ($100 or less per item), excluding clothing accessories, protective or athletic clothing, and some shoes including ballet, bicycle, bowling, cleats, football, golf, track, jazz, tap, and turf (but note that aerobic, basketball, boat and running shoes are exempt).
  • Florida (August 7-9) Exemptions include clothing, shoes, wallets, handbags, and backpacks that cost $60 or less. Computers that cost less than $1,000 and school supplies, such as pens, pencils, binders, and lunch boxes that cost less than $15 are also included.
  • Iowa (August 7-8) Exemptions apply to purchases of clothing or footwear (up to $100 per item); for any item that costs $100 or more, sales tax applies to the entire price.
  • Maryland (August 9-15) Exemptions apply to purchases of clothing and footwear ($100 or less per item), including sweaters, shirts, slacks, jeans, dresses, robes, underwear, belts, shoes, and boots priced at $100 or less. Accessories, including jewelry, watches, watchbands, handbags, handkerchiefs, umbrellas, scarves, ties, headbands and belt buckles will remain taxable, as will special clothing or footwear designed primarily for protective use (and not for normal wear) such as football pads.
  • Massachusetts(August 28-29) Retail items of up to $2,500, purchased in Massachusetts for personal use on these two days, will be exempt from sales tax (exceptions apply).
  • Mississippi (July 26-27). Exemptions apply to purchases of clothing and footwear ($100 or less per item regardless of how many items are sold at the same time); accessory items such as jewelry, handbags, wallets, watches, backpacks and similar items are not included. Footwear does not include cleats and items worn in conjunction with an athletic or recreational activity.
  • Missouri (August 7-9) Exemptions apply to purchases of clothing ($100 or less per item), school supplies ($50 or less per purchase), computer software ($350 or less), personal computers or computer peripheral devices ($1,500 or less) and graphing calculators ($150 or less). Some cities have opted not to participate (check the website for specifics), although, in those circumstances, the state’s portion of the tax rate will remain exempt.
  • New Mexico (August 7-9) Exemptions apply to purchases of footwear and clothing, excluding accessories ($100 or less per item); school supplies ($30 or less per item); computers ($1,000 or less per item); computer peripherals ($500 or less per item); and book bags and backpacks ($100 or less per item).
  • Ohio (August 7-9) Exemptions apply to purchases of clothing ($75 or less per item). Note that the exemption applies to clothing selling for $75 or less. If a piece of clothing sells for more than $75, the tax is due on the entire selling price. Exemptions also apply to school supplies ($20 or less per item) and instructional materials ($20 or less per item).
  • Oklahoma (August 7-9) Exemptions apply to purchases of clothing and footwear ($100 or less per item). The exemption does not apply to the sale of any accessories, special clothing or footwear primarily designed for athletic activity or protective use that is not usually worn except when used for athletic activity or protective use, or to the rental of clothing or footwear. Qualified items are exempt from state, city, county, and local municipality sales taxes.
  • South Carolina (August 7-9) Exemptions apply to a variety of back-to-school essentials, from clothing, accessories, and shoes to school supplies, backpacks, and computers. Shoppers will also find tax-free items for the home and dorm room.
  • Tennessee (August 7-9) The back-to-school holiday weekend has passed, but Tennessee is offering a second opportunity to save this year: During this time, the retail sale of food and drink by restaurants and limited-service restaurants, is exempt from sales tax.
  • Texas (August 7-9) The law exempts most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced under $100 from sales and use taxes from a Texas store or from an online or catalog seller doing business in Texas.
  • Virginia (August 7-9) Exemptions apply to purchases of clothing and footwear ($100 or less per item) and school supplies ($20 or less per item). Sports or recreational items are not exempt from tax. The holiday also applies to hurricane and emergency preparedness items, and Energy Star™ and WaterSense™ products.

Looking for more information? Some states are pretty specific about the exemptions. You can find a link to each state’s sales tax holiday website by clicking on the state’s name.

**A few states, like Alabama and Arkansas, have already held their 2020 sales tax holidays. 

Keep in mind that some states have no statewide sales tax (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon), while others (like Pennsylvania and Vermont) already exempt some necessities like clothing. Also, keep in mind that some states offer counties and towns the option not to participate, so again, check with your state if you have questions.

I’ll update the list as information is made available (feel free to reach out to me with changes or updates that you notice). Happy shopping!

If you find yourself clicking over to do some online shopping more than before, you’re not alone. Web sales are up from last year in the U.S., reaching $73.2 billion as compared with $41.5 billion a year earlier. That’s true even though the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) was down a record 33% in the second quarter, unemployment levels remain high at just over 11%, and there’s no stimulus package on the books just yet.

So why the clicks? Many Americans are choosing to shop from home as COVID-19 continues to spread. According to data from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University, the United States has reported nearly 4.7 million cases and approximately 155,000 deaths, the highest numbers anywhere in the world.

Those clicks mean something different than they did even five years ago. That’s because of a 2018 Supreme Court case called South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., Overstock.com, Inc., and Newegg, Inc. — sometimes just referred to as Wayfair.

Under the Constitution, states must establish a connection between a taxpayer and the state to impose taxes: that’s referred to as nexus. For years, the rule was that only those companies with a physical presence inside a state can be required to collect sales tax, “continuing value of a bright-line rule in this area.” For brick and mortar stores, that’s pretty easy: Are you physically located in the state or not?

The idea that you could only impose sales tax on sales where a retailer maintained a physical presence in a state had previously been established in National Bellas Hess, Inc. v. Department of Revenue of Ill., 386 U. S. 753 and was affirmed in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota (91-0194), 504 U.S. 298 (1992). But the advent and growth of internet sales complicated the issue: When Quill was decided, fewer than 2% of Americans had access to the internet.

But the advent and growth of internet sales have complicated the issue. As states become increasingly aware of the amount of revenue they’re losing, they are seeking better ways to collect. Increasingly, that means that they are demanding that retailers be responsible for figuring and remitting the tax – and the requirements may differ from state to state.

The lack of a consistent approach raised the question of whether Quill deserved a second look. That’s what the Supreme Court heard in Wayfair. In Wayfair, the Supreme Court essentially killed Quill, ruling that states have broad authority to require online retailers to collect sales taxes.

(You can read more on Wayfair here. You can read the majority opinion, together with the concurring opinions and the dissent, which downloads as a PDF, here.)

As a result of Wayfair, there have been significant changes in sales tax compliance laws for remote sellers and marketplace facilitators. States rushed to change their laws following Wayfair, and more than a dozen states tweaked their sales tax laws beginning October 1, 2019. Since Wayfair, more than 40 states have made changes to their sales tax laws.

Of the 45 states with a general sales tax, 43 have adopted an economic nexus law or rule since Wayfair. That can make tax compliance burdensome for some sellers, especially small-to-midsize businesses.

This was a concern raised in Wayfair, which caused Justice Kennedy to note:

These issues are not before the Court in the instant case; but their potential to arise in some later case cannot justify retaining this artificial, anachronistic rule that deprives States of vast revenues from major businesses.

Those words were considered a signal that Wayfair, Part II, might eventually find its way into the courts. For now, sellers are considering other options. Some are pushing for more favorable legislation.

As states watch sales tax revenues go up – as other tax revenues may take a dip – it’s may be the case that states will revisit how they view their tax systems under Wayfair. Brad Scott, the Director of Finance at Halstead Bead, Inc., a jewelry component wholesaler, hopes that states will take a second look at how sales taxes are applied across the country. 

Since May 2019, Scott has led Halstead’s Wayfair legislative advocacy efforts to achieve uniformity, simplification, clarity, and liability limitations for small businesses at both the state and federal levels. He and I recently discussed those advocacy efforts on the Taxgirl podcast (you can listen to the discussion – and find out more – here).

Why does Scott care? And why should retailers? Folks like to say that Wayfair leveled the playing field between brick and mortar stores and online retailers. It was supposed to be about fairness. But, Scott says that Wayfair has resulted in a more complicated system – one that applies as equally to a Walmart as it does to a Halstead. As Scott notes, while those compliance burdens are the same, “I don’t have the team that Walmart already has.”

The cost to comply can be considerable, chasing some retailers out of business while encouraging others to consider aligning with bigger businesses, like Amazon, to do the heavy lifting (though it’s not always that simple). And there’s collateral damage, too. Halstead had to replace its long-time accountant, properly licensed in the state where they are located, because they needed someone who could reach – and comply with laws – in all states where they did business.

What’s the solution? Almost every retailer and tax professional has their own answer for this one, but it generally has something to do with uniformity. The current system, says Scott and many retailers like him, simply isn’t working.

This week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had restaurant owners calling “fowl” on new rules requiring bars to serve food with their drinks. The New York State Liquor Authority (NYSLA) issued guidance making clear that, “Pursuant to Executive Order 202.52, effective Friday July 17, 2020, all licensed establishments with on premises privileges (e.g. restaurants, taverns, manufacturers with tasting rooms, etc.) shall not serve alcoholic beverages unless such alcoholic beverage is accompanied by the purchase of a food item which is consistent with the food availability requirement of the license under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law.”

Today, Cuomo ruffled feathers even more at a press conference when he appeared to suggest that sandwiches were more “substantial” than chicken wings, recalling that “To be a bar, you had to have food available. soups, sandwiches, etc.” He added, “More than just hors d’ oeuvres, chicken wings. You had to have some substantive food — the lowest level of substantive food were sandwiches.”

For some, those sounded like fighting words.

Under current law (NYS Alcohol Beverage Control Law, Article 5, § 64-a, Section 8), special on-premises licensees must have food available for sale. The new COVID guidance amps that rule, requiring that patrons are seated and order a food item if they want to have a drink outside. What constitutes “food” has become something of an issue, with some establishments serving less than the bare minimum. Cuomo has vowed to crack down on businesses that aren’t complying – which is what led to today’s controversy.

Under current guidance, establishments must sell “sandwiches, soups or other foods, whether fresh, processed, precooked or frozen” if they also intend to sell alcoholic beverages. The Authority clarified that “Other foods’ are foods which are similar in quality and substance to sandwiches and soups,” further noting that “For example, salads, wings, or hotdogs would be of that quality and substance; however, a bag of chips bowl of nuts, or candy alone are not.”

A spokesperson later confirmed via Twitter that wings qualify as “substantive food.” And he did it not once, but twice:

But what about sandwiches? @CrimeADay (a must-follow on Twitter in my opinion) decided to resolve sandwich-gate by heading to the ultimate authority on food: tax law.

Tax law has actually been useful in settling a lot of “is it or isn’t it” debates including whether Pringles are actually potato chips (they’re not) and how many doughnuts constitutes a meal (no more than five in Virginia).

In New York, there is an actual Tax Bulletin on Sandwiches (it’s TB-ST-835). @CrimeADay posted a screenshot which notes that “Sandwiches include cold and hot sandwiches of every kind that are prepared and ready to be eaten, whether made on bread, on bagels, on rolls, in pitas, in wraps, or otherwise, and regardless of the filling or number of layers. A sandwich can be as simple as a buttered bagel or roll, or as elaborate as a six-foot, toasted submarine sandwich.”

The bulletin goes on to note examples of taxable sandwiches, including burritos (but not tacos), “cheese-steak sandwiches,” and hot dogs. There’s a lot to parse here, but I offer three things to consider:

  • I don’t understand how something that can also be purchased from a freezer (burrito) can be regarded as a sandwich;
  • You can’t trust a New York cheesesteak because you simply don’t hyphenate cheesesteak. Get your cheesesteaks from a city where they can both prepare and spell them correctly (Philadelphia); and
  • By law in New York, hot dogs are sandwiches (I don’t write the rules, I just report them).

So there you have it. You know what a sandwich is (and isn’t). And under the guidance in New York, sandwich or wings and booze, yes. Nuts/hors d’oeuvres/candy and alcohol, no.

Failure to follow the rules – and racking up three COVID-19 violations – can result in a suspension of an establishment’s liquor license. Cuomo reported earlier this week that the NYSLA has suspended 27 bar and restaurant alcohol licenses for violations of social distancing rules, including four in New York City and Long Island.

The new rules remind some of the Raines Liquor Tax Law, sometimes just referred to as “Raines Law.” The law, passed in New York in 1896, was named for legislator John Raines (you can read his thoughts here). Among other things, it made the sale of liquor illegal on Sundays. However, there was an exception: bars could sell liquor on any day of the week if sold at a hotel. A hotel was defined as a place that served food and had at least 10 rooms for rent. Bar owners scurried to bring in beds and served – and sometimes recycled – the barest of meals. You can imagine that it didn’t go well: the law was eventually repealed in 1923 (yes, three years after Prohibition began).

On March 20, 2020, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin extended the tax filing and payment deadline for federal income tax to July 15, 2020. This relief includes estimated payments for the first and second quarters.

Some states have also extended filing and payment deadlines – but not all of them are extended to July 15, 2020. Additionally, not all state filing extensions apply to estimated payments (you’ll see the information about estimated payments in bold below). Here’s what we know so far:

Alabama: For taxpayers affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19), the due date for filing state income tax, FIET, and BPT returns and making state income tax, FIET, and BPT payments due on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020, is postponed to July 15, 2020. Extension payments and Estimate payments due on April 15, 2020, have been postponed to July 15, 2020. However, the Order does not include estimated payments due after April 15, 2020. For example, a calendar year taxpayer’s second-quarter payment is still due June 15, 2020.

Alaska: Alaska does not have a personal income tax.

Arizona: The Arizona Department of Revenue (ADOR) announced it has moved the deadline for filing and paying state income taxes from April 15 to July 15, 2020. This includes individual, corporate, and fiduciary tax returns. Taxpayers who need more time beyond the July 15 deadline to file state income taxes should consider filing for an extension. Arizona’s delay in filing and paying state income taxes does not include an extension to pay estimated tax payments.

Arkansas: Governor Hutchinson announced the state deadline to file and pay individual income taxes has been extended to July 15, matching the federal extension. Arkansas did not extend the 2020 estimated tax payments. 

California: FTB has postponed until July 15, the filing and payment deadlines for all individuals and business entities for 2019 tax returns, 2019 tax return payments, 2020 LLC taxes and fees, and 2020 Non-wage withholding payments. California has also extended 2020 1st and 2nd quarter estimate payments to July 15.

Colorado: The income tax payment deadline has been extended for all Colorado taxpayers to July 15, 2020. All income tax returns that were required to be filed by April 15, 2020, are granted a six-month extension and are due on or before October 15, 2020. EO D 2020 010 grants an extension of time to pay until July 15, 2020, for any estimated payment due between April 15, 2020, and June 15, 2020, without penalty.

Connecticut: At the direction of Governor Ned Lamont, the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS) has extended the filing and payment deadline for personal income tax returns 90 days, to July 15, 2020. The extension also applies to Connecticut’s estimated income tax payments for the first and second quarters of 2020.

Delaware: The Delaware Division of Revenue (DOR) announced the deadlines for taxpayers to file their 2019 Delaware personal income tax returns, and corporate income taxes have been extended to July 15, 2020. Under a Technical Information Memorandum 2020-01, DOR has also extended income tax filing deadlines for corporate final, corporate tentative, and fiduciary income taxes due in April to July 15, 2020. All other returns remain due without extension. Individuals who are unable to meet the July 15 filing deadline may file an extension on or before July 15. Estimated personal income tax payments that were due on April 30, 2020, are extended to July 15, 2020. Please note that the second quarter estimated payments remain due on June 15, 2020.

Florida: On April 27, 2020, Florida Department of Revenue Executive Director Jim Zingale issued Order of Emergency Waiver/Deviation # 20-52-DOR-003 extending certain corporate income/franchise tax (CIT) returns and payments. Florida does not have a personal income tax.

Georgia: The Georgia Department of Revenue extended the income tax filing and payment deadlines to July 15, 2020. Georgia estimated income tax payments due on or after April 15, 2020, and before July 15, 2020, are also extended to July 15, 2020.

Hawaii: The Department of Taxation has issued Tax Announcement 2020-01 to grant special tax relief for State income taxpayers similar to the IRS. The due date for filing 2019 State income tax returns due from April 20, 2020, to June 20, 2020, is postponed to July 20, 2020. The due date for making 2019 State income tax payments due from April 20, 2020, to June 20, 2020, is postponed to July 20, 2020. The Tax Announcement applies to individuals, trusts and estates, corporations, and other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax. The relief provided in the Announcement applies solely to returns and payments for Tax Year 2019 due from April 20, 2020, to June 20, 2020. The extension does not apply to estimated payments.

Idaho: Idaho has extended the deadlines for 2019 individual and business income tax returns (returns and payments are now due June 15, 2020), Property tax reduction programs, and IFTA 2020 first-quarter returns. The due dates for all other tax types remain the same. Idaho has also extended the due date for income tax estimated payments that are normally due April 15 to June 15. 

Illinois: The filing deadline for Illinois income tax returns has been extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. This does NOT impact the first and second installments of estimated payments for 2020 taxes that are due April 15 and June 15. 

Indiana: The Indiana DOR has extended certain filing and payment deadlines to align with the IRS. Individual tax returns and payments originally due by April 15, 2020, are now due on or before July 15, 2020. Corporate tax returns and payments originally due by April 15 or April 20 are now due on or before July 15, 2020: those originally due on May 15, 2020, are now due on August 17, 2020. All other tax return filings and payment due dates remain unchanged. These due dates can be found on DOR’s tax filing deadlines webpage. The extensions include those for individual and corporate estimated payments.

Iowa: The Iowa Department of Revenue has extended the filing and payment deadline for several state tax types as a result of an order signed by Director of Revenue. The Order extends filing and payment deadlines for income, franchise, and moneys and credits taxes with a due date on or after March 19, 2020, and before July 31, 2020, to a new deadline of July 31, 2020. Income tax estimated payments are still required to be made by their regular due date. A calendar-year filer’s 1st quarter and 2nd quarter 2020 estimated payments are due on April 30, 2020, and June 30, 2020, respectively.

Kansas: Gov. Kelly signed Executive Order #20-13, extending tax filing deadlines to July 15, 2020, and waiving any interest and penalties for returns and payments made on or before July 15, 2020. The Order does not apply to estimated payments.

Kentucky: Kentucky income tax return filings due on April 15, 2020, May 15, 2020, and June 15, 2020, for individual, corporate, limited liability, fiduciary, and pass-through filers are now due July 15, 2020. Kentucky income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, May 15, 2020, and June 15, 2020, for individual, corporate, limited liability, fiduciary, and pass-through filers, are due on July 15, 2020. Estimated payments due on these dates are included in the deferral.

Louisiana: Individual income and franchise tax returns are due on July 15, 2020. Title 47 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950 provides no mechanism or authority for the Secretary to extend the statutory due date of declaration payments for individuals. However, for the 2020 tax year, the Secretary may waive the UET (underpayment of estimated tax) penalty if the taxpayer requests a waiver by May 17, 2022 (one year after the statutory due date of the return) and the taxpayer has acted in good faith in failing to make estimated payments.

Maine: The State of Maine has extended the payment deadline of state income tax payments from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. That change included any final and estimated Maine income and franchise tax payments due by April 15, 2020. The extended payment due date includes second-quarter estimated payments, originally due June 15, 2020, for the following Maine tax types: individual income tax, corporate income tax, franchise tax, and fiduciary income tax for estates and trusts. The extended payment due date also includes any estimated or final payments, originally due April 16, 2020, through June 15, 2020, for fiscal-year filers, for the taxes listed above.

Maryland: The deadline to file a 2019 income tax return for Maryland individual, corporate, pass-through entity, and fiduciary taxpayers is July 15, 2020. Fiscal year filers with tax years ending January 1, 2020, through March 31, 2020, are also eligible for the July 15, 2020 extension for filing returns and payment. The due date for March quarterly estimated payments of 2020 taxes is also extended to July 15, 2020.

Massachusetts: Personal income tax returns and payments otherwise due April 15, 2020, are now due July 15, 2020, for Massachusetts taxpayers. Additionally, the first and second installments of estimated tax, due April 15, 2020, and June 15, 2020, respectively, will now be due July 15, 2020.

Michigan: The Department of Treasury extended the due date for all Michigan income tax returns or payments due between April 15, 2020, and July 30, 2020. The automatic extension is limited to returns and payments due under the Michigan Income Tax Act, and includes the filing and payment of the annual return, and the application and payment of tax for any extension of time to file the annual return. The extension also applies to the payment of the first and second quarter estimated payments. 

Minnesota: Minnesota is providing additional time until July 15, 2020, for taxpayers to file and pay 2019 Minnesota Individual Income Tax without any penalty and interest. This includes all estimated and other income tax payments for tax year 2019 that would otherwise be due April 15, 2020. However, first-quarter 2020 estimated income tax payments for individuals, calendar-year partnerships, S-corporations, and fiduciaries were still due April 15, 2020. 

Mississippi: Mississippi has extended the due date for filing income tax returns to July 15, 2020. This extension applies to Individual Income Tax returns, Corporate Income and Franchise Tax returns, and Fiduciary Income Tax returns. Mississippi has also extended the due date for making first quarter and second quarter estimated payments to July 15, 2020. 

Missouri: The filing and income tax payment deadline for individual and corporate income tax returns with an original due date of April 15, 2020, is extended until July 15, 2020. This filing and payment relief applies to all individual income tax returns, income tax returns filed by C Corporations, and income tax returns filed by trusts or estates. The filing deadline for partnership returns that were originally due on April 15, 2020, is also extended to July 15, 2020. The deadline to remit estimated tax payments for tax year 2020 that were originally due on April 15, 2020, and June 15, 2020, is extended through July 15, 2020.

Montana: Governor Steve Bullock extended the payment and filing deadlines for 2019 individual income taxpayers to July 15 in accordance with the new federal filing deadline. The deadline for those making estimated tax payments for the first quarter of 2020 has also been extended to July 15. The due date for the second quarter remains July 15 at this time.

Nebraska: The tax filing deadline is extended to July 15, 2020, for state income tax payments that were originally due on April 15, 2020. The same relief applies to estimated payments.

Nevada: Nevada does not have a personal income tax.

New Hampshire: The New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration (NHDRA) granted automatic relief to qualifying Business Profits Tax (BPT), Business Enterprise Tax (BET) and Interest & Dividends Tax (I&D) taxpayers, extending the deadline to remit payment by two months, from April 15 to June 15, 2020. This relief is available for any Business Tax or Interest & Dividends Tax return or extension payment due on April 15, 2020, as well as any Business Tax or Interest & Dividends Tax quarterly estimated tax payment due on April 15, 2020.

New Jersey: Individual Gross Income Tax, Partnership, and Corporation Business Tax calendar year filers now until July 15 to file and pay these taxes, including estimated tax payments due on April 15. All other returns and payments are due on their original due date (including 2nd quarter estimated tax payments for calendar year filers). However, estimated tax payments for the 2nd quarter are still due on June 15 for both Income Tax and Corporation Business Tax taxpayers. Any 2nd quarter payments made after June 15 will be considered late and may be subject to interest charges. Only estimated payments originally due on April 15 have been extended to July 15, 2020.

New Mexico: Personal, fiduciary, and corporate income tax returns, return payments, and estimated payments, with a filing or payment due date of April 15, are postponed to July 15, 2020. Personal, fiduciary, and corporate income estimated payments due between April 16 and July 14, 2020, may be submitted without penalty no later than July 15, 2020. Interest will be due on payments made after their original due date because TRD and the Secretary have no authority under Section 7-1-13 NMSA 1978 to waive interest otherwise due.

New York: New York State personal income tax and corporation tax returns (and related tax payments) originally due on April 15, 2020, have been extended to July 15, 2020. The Tax Department extended the April 15, 2020, due date to July 15, 2020, for all related tax payments, including estimated tax payments, that were due on April 15, 2020. The due date for estimated tax payments due on June 15, 2020, for personal income, fiduciary, and corporate taxpayers remains in place.

North Carolina: The N.C. Department of Revenue (NCDOR) has automatically extended the time for filing income and franchise tax returns due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, for individuals, corporations, partnerships, and estates and trusts. Revenue will not impose a failure-to-pay penalty or interest for payments made on or before July 15, but you will be responsible for paying interest beginning April 15, 2020, until you pay your income tax liability: state law prevents the Department from waiving accrued interest. Under North Carolina law, the liability for failure to pay estimated income tax timely is interest. The Secretary will waive the accrual of interest during the COVID Period (through July 15, 2020) owed on estimated tax payments.

North Dakota: The State of North Dakota is currently aligned with the IRS extension date. North Dakota will also provide automatic relief from penalty and interest for any income tax return or payment that is due prior to July 15. This includes the first quarter estimated payment that is due April 15, 2020, and the second quarter estimated payment due June 15, 2020.

Ohio: Ohio is following the federal government and IRS in extending the deadline to file and pay the state income tax. The new deadline is July 15, an extension of approximately three months from the original deadline of April 15. Individuals, estates, trusts, and certain businesses making quarterly estimated income tax payments have also been granted additional time to file and pay without penalty or interest. The first and second quarterly payments, normally scheduled for April 15 and June 15 for most taxpayers, have both been extended to July 15.

Oklahoma: Oklahomans have until July 15, 2020, to file and pay their 2019 Oklahoma income tax return. The deadline for April 15 estimated tax payments has also been extended to July 15. However, the regularly scheduled June 15 estimated tax payment deadline has not been extended.

Oregon: The filing due date for an Oregon personal income tax return is automatically extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, just like the IRS. The relief also includes the personal income tax, fiduciary income tax returns, estate transfer tax returns, S-Corporation income tax returns, and corporate income/excise tax returns and related payments for tax year 2019. The relief doesn’t include estimated tax payments due during tax year 2020.

Pennsylvania: The Department of Revenue announced the deadline for taxpayers to file their 2019 Pennsylvania personal income tax returns is extended to July 15, 2020. The Department of Revenue will also waive penalties and interest on 2019 personal income tax payments through July 15, 2020. This extension applies to both final 2019 tax returns and payments. The relief also applies to estimated payments for the first and second quarters of 2020.

Rhode Island: Individuals can defer Rhode Island resident and nonresident personal income tax returns and personal income tax payments, normally due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. Similarly, certain business entities can defer Rhode Island returns and tax payments, normally due April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. The new deadline also applies to first-quarter and second-quarter estimated payments of Rhode Island income tax for the 2020 tax year by individuals, estates, and trusts.

South Carolina: The South Carolina Department of Revenue (SCDOR) is moved the due date for Income Tax returns and payments originally due April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. This includes Individual Income Taxes originally due April 15 and estimated payments originally due June 15.

South Dakota: South Dakota does not have a personal income tax.

Tennessee: The Tennessee Department of Revenue has extended the due date for filing and paying franchise and excise tax from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. This extension applies to all taxpayers who had a franchise and excise tax return due on April 15, 2020, regardless of whether the due date is the original due date or the due date on extension. It also applies to taxpayers required to renew their franchise and excise tax exemption (filed on Form FAE183) or make an estimated payment on April 15, 2020. Any estimated payments due on dates other than April 15 remain unchanged.

Texas: Texas does not have a personal income tax.

Utah:  By Utah statute, individuals have the same deadline to file and pay their 2019 taxes as the IRS, which is July 15, 2020. Additionally, interest and penalties are waived for late-filed 2019 tax returns and payments of corporations and pass-through entities such as LLCs. 

Vermont: The Vermont income tax filing due dates for the following taxes have been extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, for Vermont personal income tax, Vermont Homestead Declaration and Property Tax Credit Claims, Corporate income tax, and Fiduciary income tax. Taxpayers may file and pay these taxes before July 15, 2020, without penalty or interest. Penalties and interest are waived for estimated income tax payments that were originally due between April 15 and before July 15 so long as they are paid by July 15, 2020. This relief applies to Vermont personal income tax, Corporate and business/pass-through income tax, and Fiduciary and estate income tax.

Virginia: Individual and corporate income tax payments were June 1, 2020. This included the first estimated income tax payments for the 2020 tax year.

Washington: Washington does not have a personal income tax.

West Virginia: The deadline to file 2019 annual income tax returns for individuals, trusts or estates, and corporations has been extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. This extension does not apply to any other tax collected by the Tax Commissioner. This relief does extend to estimated tax payments for tax year 2020 that are due between April 15, 2020, and June 15, 2020, for individuals, trusts or estates, corporations, and pass-thru entities: they will be due July 15, 2020. 

Wisconsin: Wisconsin income tax payment and return due dates are automatically extended to July 15, 2020. Estimated payments due on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020, are extended to July 15, 2020. 

Wyoming: Wyoming does not have a personal income tax.


Please note that this information is current as of the date of publication and is subject to change. I’ve included links to Revenue websites, where possible (click on the state name). Please check with Revenue (and local government) websites and your tax professional before relying on this information, or if you have questions.

Check back regularly: I’ll continue to update you as information becomes available. If you have an update or tip, here’s how to reach me (including secure methods).

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have announced that they have distributed more than 152 million Economic Impact Payments, sometimes referred to as stimulus checks. The payments total nearly $258 billion, with an average payment of $1,695 (that’s roughly the value of a check for a single adult and a child).

“Economic Impact Payments have continued going out at a rapid rate to Americans across the country,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “We remind people to visit IRS.gov for the latest information, including answers to the most common questions we see surrounding the payments. We also continue to urge those who don’t normally have a filing requirement, including those with little or no income, that they can quickly register for the payments on IRS.gov.”

Included in the announcement were updated state-by-state figures.

Not surprisingly, California received the most payments (16,869,636): it is the largest state by population. The top five states to receive payments followed population trends with Texas, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania in line behind the Golden State.

On the other end of the spectrum, states also mostly followed population trends with Wyoming, the District of Columbia, Vermont, Alaska, and North Dakota receiving the least amount of checks.

You can see how all of the states fared here:

If that’s tough to read, you can view it on Scribd (or click the link at the top for the IRS announcement).

Utah taxpayers received the most money per check ($1,938), followed by Idaho ($1,872), South Dakota ($1,821), Nebraska ($1,815), and Wyoming ($1,806).

District of Columbia taxpayers received the least money per check ($1,368) followed by Massachusetts ($1,603), New York ($1,609), Rhode Island, ($1,622) and Maryland ($1,627).

My guess is that many of those in high-density areas, like D.C. and New York, were likely phased out of the higher checks. Phaseouts are based on adjusted gross income (AGI), but AGI does not reflect the cost of living, nor taxable income (it’s your income before your standard or itemized deductions). 

Here’s how that would impact checks. It costs an estimated 52% more to live in D.C. than in Cheyenne, Wyoming. That tends to explain higher salaries (to make up for the cost of living) in areas like D.C. But, stimulus checks do not reflect any adjustments for the cost of living. 

The amount of the payment phases out for those earning more than $75,000 ($150,000 for joint returns and $112,500 for heads of household). Phaseout means that the benefit goes down as income goes up.

To put that into context, an income of $75,000 in Cheyenne is roughly equivalent to $114,000 in D.C. With respect to stimulus payments, the Cheyenne resident would receive the full $1,200 payment for a single adult, while the D.C. resident would receive nothing. 

An income of $65,000 in Cheyenne is about the same as $98,800 in D.C. At those numbers, the Cheyenne resident would receive the full $1,200 payment for a single adult, while the D.C. resident would receive $10.

The checks were sent out to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of today, Johns Hopkins University puts the total number of U.S. cases at 1,662,768, with 98,223 deaths. By total numbers, the states which have been most impacted by the pandemic are New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts and California.

The IRS plans to continue to send out payments throughout the year. Payments are automatic for people who filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019, receive Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits (SSDI), Railroad Retirement benefits, as well as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Veterans Affairs beneficiaries who didn’t file a tax return in the last two years. For those who don’t receive federal benefits and didn’t have a filing obligation in 2018 or 2019, visit the Non-Filer tool at IRS.gov to register.

(Note: Updated April 1, 2020)

On March 20, 2020, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin extended the tax filing and payment deadline to July 15, 2020. You can find more information and guidance here.

Some tax-related agencies and departments are closing:

  • The US Tax Court is closed to the public (notice downloads as a PDF). You may still file petitions and use online services.
  • Social Security offices are closed to the public. You may still conduct some business by phone or online.
  • All AARP Foundation Tax-Aide services and most IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program sites have closed.

Some states are extending filing and payment deadlines. Here’s what we know so far:

Alabama: Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Revenue announced that the state income tax filing due date is extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. Taxpayers can also defer state income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This deferment applies to all taxpayers, including individuals, trusts and estates, corporations, and other non-corporate tax filers.

For small businesses, restaurants, and other foodservice businesses unable to pay their state sales taxes due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19), late payment penalties will be waived for taxes reported on returns filed for the February, March, and April 2020 reporting periods. Similar relief is being provided for state lodgings taxes due for these same periods.

Arizona: The Arizona Department of Revenue (ADOR) has announced it has moved the deadline for filing and paying state income taxes from April 15 to July 15, 2020 following direction today by Governor Doug Ducey. This includes individual, corporate and fiduciary tax returns. Taxpayers anticipating they will need more time beyond the new July 15 deadline to file state income taxes should consider filing for an extension.

Arkansas: Governor Hutchinson announced the state deadline to file and pay individual income taxes has been extended to July 15, matching the federal extension.

California: FTB is postponing until July 15 the filing and payment deadlines for all individuals and business entities for 2019 tax returns, 2019 tax return payments, 2020 1st and 2nd quarter estimate payments, 2020 LLC taxes and fees, and 2020 Non-wage withholding payments.

Colorado: The income tax payment deadline has been extended for all Colorado taxpayers by 90 days until July 15, 2020. All income tax returns that were required to be filed by April 15, 2020, are granted a six-month extension and are due on or before October 15, 2020. Click here for more information.

Connecticut: At the direction of Governor Ned Lamont, the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS) is extending the filing and payment deadline for personal income tax returns 90 days, to July 15, 2020. The extension also applies to Connecticut estimated income tax payments for the first and second quarters of 2020.

Delaware: The Delaware Division of Revenue (DOR) announced the deadline for taxpayers to file their 2019 Delaware personal income tax returns has been extended to July 15, 2020. The filing deadline for corporate income taxes is tied to the federal income tax due date which was recently extended to July 15, 2020. Under a Technical Information Memorandum 2020-01, DOR has also extended income tax filing deadlines for corporate final, corporate tentative, estimated personal income taxes, and fiduciary income taxes due in April to July 15, 2020. All other returns remain due without extension. Individuals who are unable to meet the July 15 filing deadline may file an extension request online on or before July 15 at, by email to DOR_PublicService@delaware.gov, or through their tax preparer.

Hawaii: The Department of Taxation has issued Tax Announcement 2020-01 to grant special tax relief for State income taxpayers similar to the IRS. The due date for filing 2019 State income tax returns due from April 20, 2020 to June 20, 2020 is postponed to July 20, 2020. The due date for making 2019 State income tax payments due from April 20, 2020 to June 20, 2020 is postponed to July 20, 2020. The Tax Announcement applies to individuals, trusts and estates, corporations, and other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax. The relief provided in the Announcement applies solely to returns and payments for Tax Year 2019 due from April 20, 2020 to June 20, 2020, and does not include estimated income tax payments for the 2020 taxable year.  Please see the Tax Announcement for more information.

Indiana: On March 19, 2020, Gov. Holcomb announced DOR is extending certain filing and payment deadlines to align with the IRS. Individual tax returns and payments, along with estimated payments originally due by April 15, 2020, are now due on or before July 15, 2020. Corporate tax returns and payments, along with estimated payments originally due by April 15 or April 20 are now due on or beforeJuly 15, 2020: those originally due on May 15, 2020, are now due on August 17, 2020. All other tax return filings and payment due dates remain unchanged. These due dates can be found on DOR’s tax filing deadlines webpage.

Iowa: The Iowa Department of Revenue has extended the filing and payment deadline for several state tax types as a result of an order signed by Director of Revenue Kraig Paulsen. The order extends filing and payment deadlines for income, franchise, and moneys and credits taxes with a due date on or after March 19, 2020, and before July 31, 2020, to a new deadline of July 31, 2020.

Kansas: Gov. Kelly signed Executive Order #20-13, extending tax filing deadlines to July 15, 2020, and waiving any interest and penalties for returns and payments made on or before July 15, 2020. In the event the State of Disaster Emergency originally proclaimed on March 12, 2020, is lifted or expires prior to July 15, 2020, the Department of Revenue shall continue to exercise appropriate discretion to make effective the waivers of penalties and interest for payments made up to July 15, 2020.

KentuckyKentucky will match the IRS with a 7/15 deadline for filing and payment per Governor Beshear.

Louisiana: Businesses have additional time to file returns due this month for sales and excise taxes collected by the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR). The extended deadline is May 20, 2020, for applicable returns and payments that were due Friday, March 20. The extension applies to sales, beer excise and wine excise tax returns and payments for the February 2020 tax period. This is an automatic extension and no extension request is necessary. LDR will waive penalties and interest for applicable returns and payments received by the extended May 20 deadline. For more information, including a full list of all taxes eligible for this relief, read Revenue Information Bulletin 20-008.

Maryland: The deadline to file a 2019 income tax return for Maryland individual, corporate, pass through entity, and fiduciary taxpayers is now July 15, 2020. Fiscal year filers with tax years ending January 1, 2020 through March 31, 2020 are also eligible for the July 15, 2020 extension for filing returns and payment. The due date for March quarterly estimated payments of 2020 taxes is also extended to July 15, 2020. The extension to July 15, 2020 for filing of returns and payment of 2019 taxes is automatic; no filing or request is required to take advantage of the extended deadline.

Michigan: The Department of Treasury is waiving penalty and interest for the late payment of tax or the late filing of the return due on March 20, 2020. The waiver will be effective for a period of 30 days; therefore, any return or payment currently due on March 20, 2020 may be submitted to the Department without penalty or interest through April 20, 2020. The waiver is limited to sales, use, and withholding payments and returns due March 20, 2020. Questions may be directed to the Department at (517) 636–6925.

Minnesota: The state is providing additional time until July 15, 2020, for taxpayers to file and pay 2019 Minnesota Individual Income Tax without any penalty and interest. Also, the state is granting a 30-day Sales and Use Tax grace period for businesses required to suspend or reduce services under Executive Order 20-04.  The Minnesota due date has not changed for Corporation Franchise, S Corporation, Partnership, or Fiduciary taxes. However, under state law, C corporations receive an automatic extension to file their Minnesota return to the later of November 15, 2020, or the date of any federal extension to file, and S corporations, partnerships, and fiduciaries receive an automatic extension to file their state return to the date of any federal extension to file. 

Mississippi:The deadline to file and pay the 2019 individual income tax and corporate income tax is extended until May 15, 2020. The first quarter 2020 estimated tax payment is also extended until May 15, 2020. Penalty and interest will not accrue on the extension period through May 15, 2020. Withholding tax payments for the month of April are extended until May 15, 2020. The extension does not apply to Sales Tax, Use Tax or any other tax types.

Missouri: The tax filing deadline is extended to July 15, 2020.

Montana: Governor Steve Bullock extended the payment and filing deadlines for 2019 individual income taxpayers to July 15 in accordance with the new federal filing deadline. The deadline for those making estimated tax payments for the first quarter of 2020 has also been extended to July 15. The due date for the second quarter remains July 15 at this time.

Nebraska: Governor Pete Ricketts announced that Nebraskans will have until July 15, 2020 to pay state income taxes. For Nebraskans impacted by COVID-19, this change will give them additional flexibility. Nebraskans who are not impacted by the virus should consider filing by the traditional April 15th date.

New Jersey: We don’t have an update on the website but we do have a tweet from the Governor: The New Jersey state tax filing deadline WILL BE EXTENDED from April 15th to July 15th.

New Mexico: The New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department (TRD) has announced that New Mexico taxpayers qualify for extended return and payment deadlines due to the COVID-19 statewide public health emergency declaration (Executive Order 2020-004) by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. Personal & corporate income tax returns and payments due between April 15, 2020 and July 15, 2020 may be submitted without penalty no later than July 15, 2020. Withholding tax returns and payments due between March 25, 2020 and July 25, 2020 may be submitted without penalty no later than July 25, 2020. TRD will not impose penalty if a taxpayer complies with the extensions but interest is imposed from the original statutory date tax is due because TRD has no authority to waive interest pursuant to Section 7-1-13 NMSA 1978.

New York: The Tax Department has extended the due date for New York State personal income tax and corporation tax returns originally due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. Sales tax payments and returns were due March 20, 2020; however, penalty and interest may be waived for quarterly and annual filers who were unable to file or pay on time due to COVID-19.

North Carolina: The N.C. Department of Revenue (NCDOR) announced that they will extend the April 15 tax filing deadline to July 15 for individual, corporate, and franchise taxes to mirror the announced deadline change from the Internal Revenue Service. In addition to the filing extension, the NCDOR will not charge penalties for those filing and paying their taxes after April 15, as long as they file and pay their tax before the updated July 15 deadline. However, the department cannot offer relief from interest charged to filings after April 15. Unless state law is changed, tax payments received after April 15 will be charged accruing interest over the period from April 15 until the date of payment. These changes do not apply to trust taxes, such as sales and use or withholding taxes.

North Dakota: The State of North Dakota is currently aligned with the IRS extension date. Individuals or businesses who are unable to file an income tax return or pay the tax by the April 15th deadline, can file and make payment through July 15, 2020, without penalty and interest. You have the ability to request additional time if you believe you will be unable to file a return or pay the tax in a timely manner because of a COVID-19 related situation, please contact the Office of State Tax Commissioner.

Oklahoma:  Oklahomans now have until July 15, 2020 to file and pay their 2019 Oklahoma income tax return. In response to Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin’s announcement on Friday that the Trump administration has decided to push the federal income tax filing date from April 15 to July 15, the Oklahoma Tax Commission (OTC) is likewise extending the 2019 Oklahoma income tax return due date from April 15 to July 15, 2020.

Oregon: The department is tied to the Internal Revenue Service filing and payment due dates for personal income taxes. If the IRS declares the April 15 due date to be extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Oregon will automatically connect to those dates for personal income tax filers.

Pennsylvania: The Department of Revenue announced the deadline for taxpayers to file their 2019 Pennsylvania personal income tax returns is extended to July 15, 2020. This means taxpayers will have an additional 90 days to file from the original deadline of April 15. The Department of Revenue will also waive penalties and interest on 2019 personal income tax payments through the new deadline of July 15, 2020. This extension applies to both final 2019 tax returns and payments, and estimated payments for the first and second quarters of 2020.

Also, there will be additional time in certain cases for taxpayers who wish to appeal a tax assessment issued by the Department of Revenue or file a petition for a tax refund with the Board of Appeals. Visit the Board of Appeals’ Online Petition Center for further information on tax appeals.

South Carolina: In response to the challenges of COVID-19 and in accordance with Executive Order 2020-12, the South Carolina Department of Revenue (SCDOR) is moving the due date for Income Tax returns and payments originally due April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020 and is temporarily allowing retailers who meet certain requirements to sell sealed containers of beer and wine for curbside/drive-thru pickup for off-premises consumption. Read the full news release here.

Tennessee: The Tennessee Department of Revenue has extended the due date for filing and paying franchise and excise tax from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. For more information, read important notice #20-05.

Utah: The IRS has automatically extended the deadline for 2019 individual and corporate returns and payments to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. The Utah State Tax Commission, after consultation with the Governor, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, intends to follow the federal government’s tax filing and payment actions in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. We are waiting to review the official instructions from the IRS to make certain that we align properly with the federal requirements.

Vermont:The Vermont income tax filing due dates for the following taxes have also been extended from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020 for Vermont personal income tax, Vermont Homestead Declaration and Property Tax Credit Claims, Corporate income tax, and Fiduciary income tax. Taxpayers may file and pay these taxes before July 15, 2020, without penalty or interest.

Virginia: Businesses impacted by coronavirus can request an extension of the due date for filing and payment of their February 2020 sales tax return due March 20, 2020, for 30 days. When granted, businesses will be able to file and pay no later than April 20, 2020 with a waiver of any penalties. Any income tax payments due during the time period of April 1, 2020, to June 1, 2020, will now be due on June 1, 2020. This includes individual and corporate income taxes paid to Virginia Tax. All income tax filing deadlines remain the same, including the May 1, 2020 individual income tax filing due date. Late payment penalties will not be charged if payments are made by June 1, 2020. However, interest will still accrue, so if you can pay by the original filing due date, you should. 

Washington: Revenue will work with businesses that cannot file or pay their taxes on time due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Businesses can request an extension or penalty waiver by sending a secure email in their My DOR account or by calling Revenue’s customer service staff at 360-705-6705, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Wisconsin: Both federal and Wisconsin income tax payment and return due dates are automatically extended to July 15, 2020. Wisconsin law will automatically extend time and waive interest and penalties for taxpayers due to a presidentially declared disaster



Some states are also closing their tax offices to the public. So far, closures and recommended alternatives include:

Alabama: The Department is asking taxpayers to limit in-person visits to the taxpayer service centers. Take advantage of the website for information and answers to your questions; use My Alabama Taxes (MAT) to file and pay taxes; or call 334-242-1170 to receive additional assistance.

Colorado:Offices are closed to the public through April 18. Help is available online.

Connecticut: The Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS) is suspending walk-in services to the public at its four branch offices (Hartford, Bridgeport, Waterbury and Norwich), effective at the end of business Tuesday, March 17, 2020. All business with the DRS can be conducted electronically, by telephone, or by written correspondence.

Delaware: Delaware has temporarily closed all Public Service offices and discontinued face-to-face service throughout the state until further notice. All taxpayers are asked to utilize online services at Revenue.Delaware.gov to ensure that they remain compliant with all tax filing and payment obligations. If you are unable to find a solution through Revenue’s online services, please call our public service group at 302-577-8200, and we will provide you guidance.

Florida: All Department of Revenue offices in Florida are temporarily closed to the public at this time. Taxpayers adversely affected by COVID-19 are encouraged to send questions to COVID19TAXHELP@floridarevenue.com. Property taxpayers should contact their county property appraisers and tax collectors for information.

Georgia: Department of Revenue is temporarily suspending in-person services effective Monday, March 23, 2020. Taxpayers can conduct all business with the Department via online services, telephone, or designated secure lockbox locations.

Hawaii: DOTAX  offices are CLOSED to the public. Please use secure web messaging on Hawaii Tax Online or call us at (808) 587-4242 if you have questions or need assistance.

Illinois: Illinois Department of Revenue taxpayer phone system agents are currently unavailable. Taxpayers can still check the status of a refund, identify a PIN, or receive estimated payment information through our taxpayer assistance 800 number. During this time, a limited number of staff will also be monitoring and responding to emails.

Indiana: Effective March 18, 2020, all Indiana Department of Revenue customer walk-in centers will temporarily close for in-person assistance. Customers are encouraged to call or email DOR directly in addition to using available online services. Click here for more information.

Kansas: All Kansas Department of Revenue offices are closed March 23rd – April 6th.

Kentucky: The Kentucky Department of Revenue (DOR) will not receive walk-in customers for tax filing assistance, collections cases, or other tax-related issues. Previously scheduled appointments will be cancelled and rescheduled if possible. DOR representatives are available by phone or email. Taxpayer Service Center (TSC) locations and contact information may be found on the DOR Service Center page.  Please visit the Contact Us page for other DOR contact options.

Maryland: Comptroller Peter Franchot today announced that Taxpayer Services call center agents will no longer be staffing the 1-800-MD-TAXES phone lines following the close of business at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, March 23, 2020. Taxpayers must email their tax questions to taxhelp@marylandtaxes.gov. Response times may be affected as limited staff will be focused on processing tax returns and issuing refunds.

Massachusetts: All DOR tax (including Estate Tax walk-in service) and child support walk-in centers are closed until further notice. If you need assistance, please visit the DOR and CSE websites.

Maine:Maine Revenue Services (“MRS”) facilities at 51 Commerce Drive in Augusta will only be available to the public for purposes of accepting tax payments. MRS’ facilities at 135 Presumpscot Street in Portland continue to be closed to the public. Taxpayers seeking telephone assistance may still call MRS during normal telephone assistance hours from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. All MRS telephone and email contact information is available at: www.maine.gov/revenue/contact.html. This includes the Taxpayer Service Center at (207) 624-9784 and the Property Tax Division at (207) 624- 5600. At this moment, MRS does not expect the COVID-19 situation to significantly impact tax return processing. 

Massachusetts: All DOR tax and child support walk-in centers are closed until further notice. If you need assistance, please visit the DOR and CSE websites.

Nevada:All Taxation offices will be closed to the public. All taxpayers are advised to file and pay their taxes through the online portal, mail or via drop box at the Taxation offices.

New Jersey: Beginning on March 18th and continuing at least through March 31st, all walk-in services at Division of Taxation regional and Trenton offices will be closed to the public as a precaution to safeguard public health. We anticipate reopening on April 1st. Call centers and email servicing remain operational for any inquiries. Please visit the “Contact Us” tab on the homepage for additional information.

New Mexico: All New Mexico Taxation and Revenue district offices are now open on an appointment only basis. Appointments at district offices can be made through the phone or email. As always, the Department’s online services remain available at tax.newmexico.gov.

North Carolina: NCDOR Service Centers remain closed to the public. Taxpayers are encouraged to utilize online and phone services to the greatest extent possible. Call 1-877-252-3052 for assistance.

Ohio: Effective immediately, the Ohio Department of Taxation has closed its walk-in center due to Coronavirus concerns.

Pennsylvania: The Department of Revenue’s offices and customer service call center are currently closed. That means anyone visiting a Revenue district office or trying to call the department over the phone will not be able to reach a representative at this time. Find Revenue phone numbers and answers to common tax questions: www.revenue.pa.gov

South Dakota:Due to the Governor’s executive order, Revenue offices will be closed until March 23rd. Staff is available via chat or at 800-829-9188 to answer your questions.

Tennessee: The Tennessee Department of Revenue is not currently receiving walk-in customers at our Jackson, Cookeville, and Shelbyville offices. Walk-in service remains available at our Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga and Johnson City locations. Phone assistance is available at our Taxpayer Assistance Hotline 615-253-0600 or Tax Practitioner Hotline 615-253-0700, online at Revenue Help, or by email revenue.support@tn.gov

Texas:Texas Enforcement Offices have reduced staffing and modified the configuration of waiting areas. Because this may result in longer in-person wait times, we strongly encourage you to use our online services below. Use Webfile to file and pay certain taxes electronically. 

Utah: Due to a significant earthquake, the Utah State Tax Commission’s main office in Salt Lake City is closed until further notice. The Ogden, Provo and Hurricane offices remain open. Phone and email services statewide are closed until further notice. Our online services such as Taxpayer Access Point (TAP) remain functional.

Washington: All DOR offices are temporarily closed to the public. Call center agents are available to assist by phone or chat. Contact.


Please understand that this situation is changing rapidly, and I’m posting information as quickly as I can confirm it. I’ve included links to Revenue websites, where possible. Please check with Revenue (and local government) websites and your tax professional for more information or if you have questions.

Check back regularly: I’ll continue to update you as information becomes available. If you have an update or tip, here’s how to reach me (including secure methods).

$8.41. That was how much 83-year-old Uri Rafaeli, a retired engineer, in Michigan underpaid his property taxes by in 2014. That was all it took for him to lose his house.

Rafaeli bought a 1,500-square-foot Southfield home in 2011. He paid $60,000 for the property, and the deed was recorded by the Oakland County Register of Deeds on January 6, 2012. He put additional money into the home, too, as he intended to use the rental income from the property to fund his retirement.

Rafaeli believed that he was paying his property taxes on time and in full, but in 2012, he received notice that he had underpaid his 2011 tax bill by $496. He paid up in 2013 but made a mistake figuring the interest (interest also accrued while his check was in the mail): He was short by $8.41. 

In response, Oakland County seized his property and put it up for sale. The home netted just $24,500 at auction; according to Zillow, the property is now estimated to be worth nearly $130,000.

The County kept the overage from the auction: $24,215 in profits, or 8,496% of the actual tax, penalties, and interest due (the debt had grown to $285 with penalties, interest, and fees).

It was all legal. 

Under Act 123 of 1999, Michigan allows its county treasurers a great deal of authority to handle unpaid taxes, including rushing the tax foreclosure process. Under the Act, the property is considered delinquent if taxes aren’t paid in the previous year. If the outstanding taxes, fees, and penalties remain unpaid after two years, the County can foreclose on the property; that’s much more quickly than before when the average timeframe to move a foreclosure was five to seven years. Shortly after foreclosure, the former owner loses the right to buy back the property, and the County becomes the owner. At the sale, the funds belong to the County. There’s no requirement to refund any of the proceeds to the owner even if the overage far exceeds the amount owed.

Rafaeli—and his lawyers—think that’s wrong. They took the matter to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The court found that Rafaeli—and a similarly situated plaintiff—suffered “a manifest injustice that should find redress under the law” but dismissed the claim for lack of jurisdiction. 

Rafaeli tried again. He didn’t argue that he didn’t owe tax, penalties, interest, and fees. But he did object to the County taking the excess. The County argued that Rafaeli had no rights to the equity because the General Property Tax Act does not expressly protect it. And that’s the reason that Rafaeli keeps losing: The courts have sympathy for his plight but have found that the law does not prevent the County from keeping it.

He’s not alone. Tens of thousands of properties in Detroit have been subject to the same kind of treatment. Many of those who owe taxes understand that they have a debt, but they don’t necessarily understand how to navigate the process or what the failure to pay on time can mean. As with Rafaeli, even something as simple as miscalculating the interest due can have serious consequences.

Today, Rafaeli is represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF). PLF was founded in 1973 by members of then-governor Ronald Reagan’s staff as the first public interest law firm dedicated to the principles of individual rights and limited government. PLF is taking the case to the Michigan Supreme Court, arguing that keeping the funds is an unjust taking. If he wins, Rafaeli—and other landowners in similar situations—may be entitled to compensation.

According to PLF, the entire process, as it is happening now, is nothing more than government-sanctioned theft. “Predatory government foreclosure particularly threatens the elderly, sick, and people in economic distress,” PLF argued on its website. “It could happen to your grandparents. It could happen to you.”

Last year, Ohio made news as the first state in the nation to accept tax payments using cryptocurrency. Less than a year later, the program has been suspended after accusations that it wasn’t properly vetted.

The program was initially hailed as a model for the rest of the country. Under the terms of the program, if you operated a business in the State of Ohio, you could register at OhioCrypto.com to pay your taxes. The cryptocurrency payments were processed by a third-party payment processor, BitPay, and immediately converted to dollars before being deposited into a state account. 

(You can read more about the program here.)

That system, according to a new opinion from State Attorney General Dave Yost, was part of a number of potential failings with the program, including a failure to bid it out.

Today, the website at OhioCrypto.com remains shuttered. A notice advises:

It reads: 

OhioCrypto is currently suspended. More information can be found by clicking here. If you have questions, please email OhioCrypto@tos.ohio.gov.

Clicking through leads you to back to the Treasurer’s Office’s site, which offers further details on the takedown.

The program was touted as a game-changer by former Treasurer Josh Mandel. Mandel was elected Ohio Treasurer in 2010. He ran an unsuccessful Congressional campaign against Senator Sherrod Brown in 2012. He was re-elected as Treasurer in 2014 and made plans to again challenge Brown in 2018. He abruptly pulled out of that race last year and left the Treasurer’s office after his term ended in January 2019.

His successor, Robert Sprague, asked the Ohio Attorney General for a formal opinion on whether the payment method facilitated by the program’s third-party processor constitutes a “financial transaction device” under Ohio law. If it did, then by law (Ohio Revised Code §113.40), the contract for the processor must go through a formal procedure that includes approval from state officials and a request for bids from at least three financial institutions. 

The Attorney General did take a look at the program. He found that OhioCrypto.com met the legal definition of a “financial transaction device.” Yost also found that the use of the program was not permitted, claiming that existing state law doesn’t extend to OhioCrypto.com. Yost said the process was basically akin to a currency exchange, finding, “The Treasurer’s use of a payment processor to convert cryptocurrency into dollars for the payment of taxes is not authorized, expressly or impliedly, by statutes allowing the receipt of electronic payments.”

(To read Yost’s opinion, which downloads as a PDF, click here.)

Sprague said, about the findings, “It is vital that Ohio explores innovative, new technologies and processes that continue to drive Ohio into the future. However, we must make sure any new processes that are implemented, such as OhioCrypto.com, are established in accordance with Ohio law.”

Sprague also noted that the program had not been popular: The state accepted fewer than ten payments.

Mandel has not commented on the suspension of the program. Earlier this year, without comment, Mandel deleted all posts on his Twitter and Facebook accounts. He also set his Twitter account to private. 

If you made a purchase on the internet yesterday, you might have noticed something different: sales tax. Changes in sales tax compliance laws for remote sellers and marketplace facilitators in more than a dozen states kicked in beginning October 1, 2019. More than 40 states have tweaked their sales tax laws since a 2018 Supreme Court Ruling.

That ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., Overstock.com, Inc., and Newegg, Inc. —sometimes just referred to as Wayfair—focused on whether physical presence requirement for sales tax should stand. The idea that you could only impose sales tax on sales where a retailer maintained a physical presence in a state had previously been established in National Bellas Hess, Inc. v. Department of Revenue of Ill., 386 U. S. 753 and was affirmed in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota (91-0194), 504 U.S. 298 (1992). But the advent and growth of internet sales complicated the issue: When Quill was decided fewer than 2% of Americans had access to the internet. As states pushed to expand sales tax requirements to online sales, retailers pushed back. That led to what’s been called the “tax case of the millennium.” In Wayfair, the Supreme Court essentially killed Quill, ruling that states have broad authority to require online retailers to collect sales taxes.

(You can read more on Wayfair here. You can read the majority opinion, together with the concurring opinions and the dissent, which downloads as a PDF, here.)

Scott Peterson, vice president of U.S. Tax Policy at the tax compliance software firm, Avalara, explains that the changes affect two targets: remote sellers and marketplace facilitators. 

Remote sellers are precisely what they sound like on the tin: out-of-state sellers. As of October 1, 2019, the laws changed in seven states to require remote sellers to charge sales tax subject to specific criteria. They are:

  • Arizona: Economic nexus and law kicks in with sales only threshold of starting at $200,000 in 2019; the threshold decreases over time to $150,000 in 2020 and $100,000 in 2021 and beyond
  • Kansas: Economic nexus law kicks in with no threshold (in other words, there’s no small seller exception)
  • Massachusetts: Changes from cookie nexus to full economic nexus with a $100,000 threshold
  • Maryland: Economic nexus extended to certain tobacco taxes
  • Minnesota: Economic threshold for remote sellers changed to $100,000 or 200 transactions (used to be ten or more retail sales totaling $10 or 100 transactions)
  • Tennessee: Economic nexus threshold of $500,000 becomes effective; the optional uniform local rate of 2.25% goes away (specific local sales tax rate in effect for city or county jurisdiction into which the sale was shipped or delivered must be used)
  • Texas: Economic nexus threshold of $500,000 becomes effective; there is also an option for single local use tax rate for sales in the state (as opposed to using the rate in each sales tax jurisdiction)

Marketplace facilitators are those consolidated sites like Amazon Marketplace that make it possible for smaller retailers to reach a broad audience without the need for a separate sales platform. As of October 1, 2019, the laws changed in 14 states to require marketplace facilitators to charge sales tax, often subject to criteria. They are:

  • Arizona: Marketplace facilitator law with a threshold of $100,000
  • California: Marketplace facilitator law with a threshold of $500,000 
  • Colorado: Marketplace facilitator law with a threshold of $100,000 
  • Maine: Marketplace facilitator law with a threshold of $100,000 or 200 transactions 
  • Massachusetts: Marketplace facilitator law with a $100,000 threshold
  • Maryland: Marketplace facilitator law has no dollar threshold but requires nexus
  • Minnesota: Marketplace facilitator law with $100,000 or 200 transaction threshold
  • Nevada: Marketplace facilitator law with $100,000 or 200 transaction threshold
  • North Dakota: Marketplace facilitator law with $100,000 or 200 transaction threshold
  • Ohio: Marketplace facilitator law with $100,000 or 200 transaction threshold
  • Oklahoma: Marketplace facilitator law with $10,000 threshold (can collect or comply with use tax reporting requirements)
  • Texas: Marketplace facilitator law has no dollar threshold
  • Utah: Marketplace facilitator law with $100,000 or 200 transaction threshold
  • Wisconsin: Marketplace facilitator law with $100,000 or 200 transaction threshold

With those changes, of the 45 states that have a general sales tax, 43 have now adopted an economic nexus law or rule since Wayfair. According to Peterson, two states, Florida and Missouri, have general sales tax but no economic nexus—yet. 

These changes, which feel like they are coming at a rapid-fire pace, can be challenging for retailers. Sellers need to figure out which laws affect them, and that means accounting for sales by state (and in some states, tracking by jurisdiction). That can make tax compliance burdensome for some sellers, especially small-to-midsize businesses. This was a concern raised in Wayfair, which caused Justice Kennedy to note, “These issues are not before the Court in the instant case; but their potential to arise in some later case cannot justify retaining this artificial, anachronistic rule that deprives States of vast revenues from major businesses.” [emphasis added]

Those words were considered as a signal that Wayfair, Part II, might eventually find its way into the courts. For now, sellers are considering other options. Some are pushing for more favorable legislation. Others, according to Peterson, are getting rid of their websites and selling directly on the marketplace since those larger companies tend to be better situated to collect and remit tax. Marketplace facilitators also get a little grace from the tax authorities: While remote sellers are expected to comply immediately, all states except one with marketplace facilitator laws allow up to three years to become 100% compliant (through phase-ins). The presumption, Peterson says, is that the marketplaces aren’t going to get it right.

So how do you know if you’re getting it right? Peterson suggests that sellers reach out to their tax professionals to make sure that they’re following the rules. If you use software, make sure that it’s tracking the right kinds of sales and in the right places. Ask questions, he says. Even those as basic as “What is a transaction?” can make a difference in whether you have to collect sales tax in some states.

It turns out that there is such a thing as too much SALT. U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken has dismissed a lawsuit filed by four states to strike down the cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

The lawsuit was filed in July of 2018 by four states in response to the cap on SALT deductions under the TCJA. Under the TCJA, the amount that taxpayers may claim on Schedule A for all state and local sales, income, and property taxes together may not exceed $10,000 ($5,000 for married taxpayers filing separately). Previously, there were no limitations on the amount of taxes that taxpayers could claim on Schedule A, though some taxpayers faced reduced itemized deductions due to the alternative minimum tax (more on the AMT here) and Pease limitations (more on those here). The TCJA changed that, slapping a cap on SALT deductions beginning in the 2018 tax year.

The four states, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York, were seeking “declaratory and injunctive relief” to eliminate the cap. What that means is that the states asked the court to declare that the cap was not enforceable; there was no separate request for money or other damages.

(More on the lawsuit here.)

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, said in a press release introducing the lawsuit, “This cap is unconstitutional — going well beyond settled limits on federal power to impose an income tax, while deliberately targeting New York and similar states in an attempt to coerce us into changing our fiscal policies and the vital programs they support.”

However, Judge Oetken found that the states did not prove that the SALT cap was unconstitutional. He noted that “[t]he States are correct that the SALT cap is in some ways unprecedented” since “the availability of an uncapped deduction for state income and property taxes (albeit not for state sales taxes) has been a mainstay of the federal income tax since that tax’s earliest inception.” But novelty isn’t fatal – at least not in the context of constitutional law. And, Judge Oetken wrote, “the States have failed to persuade the Court that this novelty alone establishes that the SALT cap exceeds Congress’s broad tax power under Article I, section 8 and the Sixteenth Amendment.”

In answer to the states’ coercion arguments, Judge Oetken wrote, “As an initial matter, this Court declines to speculate on Congress’s motives in passing the SALT cap.” However, he notes that even assuming that the states are right, “an otherwise valid federal law does not offend the Constitution simply because it seeks to affect state policies.” The Court cited South Dakota v. Dole, 483 31 U.S. 203 (1987), a Supreme Court involving underage drinkers. In Dole, the State of South Dakota sued the federal government for withholding federal highway funds from states which allowed those under the age of twenty-one years to possess and drink alcohol. At the time, South Dakota allowed those who had turned 19 years old to buy beer containing up to 3.2% alcohol. The federal government should not, the state argued, be allowed to tie the receipt of federal funds to conditions which are not related to federal law (there is no national minimum drinking age) and steps on the toes of the states. The Court, with Chief Justice Rehnquist writing for the majority, held that indirect “encouragement” of state action to obtain uniformity in the States’ drinking ages is a valid use of the spending power under the Constitution.

Judge Oetken did, however, keep at least one door open for taxpayers. While he dismissed the states’ assertion that this was an assault on their sovereign interest, he also made it clear that “the States have disclaimed any intent to invoke the rights of their citizens.” In saying so, however, he drew a distinction between the rights of the states and individual taxpayers, noting that “It may well be the case that the States’ taxpayers will have incentive to challenge the SALT cap in individual refund suits.”

You can read the opinion here.

So where do the states go now? The next logical step is Congress since they created the SALT caps (that’s already being talked about: click here for more). But don’t rule out more litigation: A lawsuit filed by three states (New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut) to protect SALT cap workarounds is still pending. In June of 2019, the IRS issued additional guidance on SALT cap workarounds. The direction mostly puts an end to the benefits of those workarounds aimed at mitigating the consequences of SALT caps following the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TJCA).

The case is State of New York, State of Connecticut, State of Maryland and State of New Jersey v. Steven T. Mnuchin et al (S.D.N.Y., Civil Action No. 18-cv-6427, July 17, 2018).