tax Technology

California Seeks Amazon Tax (ABX8 8)

Following in the footsteps of New York, California seeks to imposed its own version of the Amazon tax. Specifically, ABX8 8 seeks to amend Section 6203 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, which covers the collection of sales tax in the State of California.

(5) (A) Any retailer entering into an agreement or agreements under which a person or persons in this state, for a commission or other consideration, directly or indirectly refers potential purchasers of tangible personal property to the retailer, whether by a link or an Internet Web site or otherwise, provided that the total cumulative sales price from all of the retailer’s sales of tangible personal property to purchasers in this state that are referred pursuant to all of those agreements with a person or persons in this state, within the preceding 12 months, is in excess of ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

Here’s the bill analysis:

Expanded sales tax nexus . A contentious issue in sales and use tax administration relates to the extent to which a state may compel an out-of-state retailer to collect use taxes from its in-state customers. The issue is of considerable importance because, although Californians are required to self-report out-of-state purchases for use in this state, the compliance rate is very low.

In general, an out-of-state retailer must have sufficient business presence in the State (also known as “nexus”) in order to be required to collect and remit the tax. Under current law, a retailer is considered “engaged in business in this state” and required to collect the California use tax on sales made to California consumers when it maintains storage or warehousing facilities in the state or it has a representative or independent contractor operating in this state for the purpose of selling, delivering, installing, assembling, or the taking of orders for the tangible personal property.

Current Board of Equalization regulations specify that the use of a computer server on the Internet to create or maintain a web page or site by an out-of-state retailer is not considered a factor in determining whether the retailer has a substantial nexus with California. The regulations further state that an Internet service provider or other Internet access service provider, or World Wide Web hosting services shall not be deemed the agent or representative of any out-of-state retailer as a result of the service provider maintaining or taking orders via a web page or site on a computer server that is physically located in this state.

This bill provides that the term “retailer engaged in business in this state” includes any retailer that enters into an agreement with a California business or other entity under which the California entity, for a commission or other consideration that depends on actual sales, directly or indirectly refers potential customers of tangible personal property to the retailer. The referral can be by a link or anInternet Web site, or some other means, provided that the cumulative sales price from sales by the retailer to customers in California who are referred pursuant to these agreements exceeds $10,000 during the preceding 12 months.

The measure does not apply to advertising on television, radio, in print, on the Internet, or any other medium, unless the payment for advertising consists of a commission or other consideration that is based on sales of tangible personal property. Thus, banners and “click-throughs” on internet sites, such as Google, which are based on models other than sales commissions for referrals, would not create nexus with California. However, the bill could apply to out-of-state sellers using California-based marketplace sites, such as e-Bay.

The bill is based on legislation enacted in the state of New York in 2008. That law has been challenged on Constitutional grounds, but the challenges were dismissed at the trial court level. Currently, three states (New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island) have enacted laws requiring remote sellers using on-line affiliates to collect use taxes, and lawmakers in several other states have introduced similar legislation.

I’m not sure about the part about Google though since they do have an affiliate network.


36 USC 220506

I am watching the Opening Ceremonies to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics when I spot the above commercial by Proctor & Gamble. Sure, the commercial presents a touching tribute to the moms of Olympians, but what really caught my attention was a citation to 36 USC 220506 in the closing frame of the advertisement. Of course, being the curious sort, I had to immediately look up the language of the code. Title 36 of the United States Code governs Patriotic Societies and Observances. With that hint, you can probably guess that 36 USC § 220506 pertains to the United States Olympic Committee. Here’s the relevant portion of 36 USC § 220506(b):

The [United States Olympic Committee] may authorize contributors and suppliers of goods or services to use the trade name of the corporation or any trademark, symbol, insignia, or emblem of the International Olympic Committee, International Paralympic Committee, the Pan-American Sports Organization, or of the corporation to advertise that the contributions, goods, or services were donated or supplied to, or approved, selected, or used by, the corporation, the United States Olympic team, the Paralympic team, the Pan-American team, or team members.


Colorado Loves California Day

Cute. Colorado has a state crush on California. Despite California’s progressive streak, Gov. Bill Ritter should be forewarned. If our states start dating, we’re not going Dutch because, uh, we’re flat broke. At best, we might be able to muster up an I.O.U. However, so long as Colorado is footing the bills, count us in. We’ll be sure to steer you far away from Sacramento. Don’t want you to get cold feet after meeting your future in-laws at the Capitol. Between you and me, they’re a little dysfunctional.

WHEREAS, Colorado and California are both hotbeds for innovation, creativity and cutting-edge research, and have a unique relationship – sharing companies, technologies, venture capital and customers; and

WHEREAS, Colorado and California have similar growth industry clusters, including aerospace, bioscience, energy and high-tech; and

WHEREAS, Colorado has had great success in recruiting California companies looking to expand their operations in our state, and attracts much of its venture capital from California investors; and

WHEREAS, Colorado and California both lead the nation in innovative ideas about energy and the environment, and these ideas, along with the foresight and passion our citizens possess, have allowed New Energy Economies to take shape in our states, including cleantech investment and growth; and

WHEREAS, Californians love many of the same things Coloradans do, including active lifestyles, outdoor recreation and plenty of sunshine; and

WHEREAS, Colorado is often the next place Californians call home, as California is the top state in the nation for in-migration to Colorado;

Therefore, I, Bill Ritter, Jr., Governor of the State of Colorado, do hereby proclaim February 12, 2010,


in the State of Colorado.

GIVEN under my hand and the Executive Seal of the State of Colorado, this ninth day of February, 2010

Bill Ritter, Jr.

personal injury

Product Liability Laws and Books

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issues product recalls when consumer products present an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death. Typical hazards include toys that contain high levels of lead, electronic products that can short circuit, overheat and cause a burns, or mislabeled products.

Well, you can add dangerous books to that list as well. When I first spotted the recall notice, I had thought that ink may have contained lead or that the books posed some other form of physical danger. However, the true danger posed by books is knowledge or, more accurately, misknowledge. Be assured that these books are not being recalled for being profane or indecent. Instead, as the recall notice points out, “The books contain errors in the technical diagrams and wiring instructions that could lead consumer to incorrectly install or repair electrical wiring, posing an electrical shock or fire hazard to consumers.”

So, what’s the prime directive for DIYers? Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Now, we can also add don’t believe everything you read in a book.


Swiss Court Slams Shut Barn Door

New York Times: Swiss Regulators’ Demand of UBS Client Data Found Illegal. A Swiss court said Friday that the country’s financial regulator had broken the law when it ordered UBS to hand over data on nearly 300 clients suspected of evading taxes to U.S. authorities a year ago.

Too late. Buried in the fourth paragraph:

[I]t is far too late to halt the transmission of certain clients’ data[.]

No kidding. If UBS sent its client data to the IRS via Outlook, maybe UBS can still recall its e-mail. 🙂 Regardless of the Swiss court ruling, the damage to Swiss banking has already been done. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men, won’t be able to restore the confidence in secret Swiss bank accounts again.


California DMV

If you have to visit a local California DMV office, make an appointment. Even though you will still have to pick a number and wait in line, the line for people with appointments will likely be shorter than the line for people without appointments. However, the DMV calendaring system is a bit non-intuitive. Ideally, the DMV will let you select a date and it will offer available times. However, that’s not the way the DMV works. You have to pick a date and time, and the DMV will let you know whether that date and time is open. Feels like playing Battleship. Just guessing different dates and times and looking for a hit.

Not sure why the DMV calls its employees technicians. If it was the person inspecting a vehicle, I will understand. But, the guy handing out wait tickets?

After you get your bingo ticket, you take a seat and wait for the announcer to call out your winning combination. If you owe money, be prepared. Unlike the rest of the world, the DMV does not accept credit cards! Cash, check or debit cards.

legal practice

Online California MCLE

Three years ago, I completed my California MCLE requirements through LACBA’s CLE-in-a-box program. Basically, for the current non-member price of $249, you will receive a box of CDs containing 25 hours CLE courses to be completed at your convenience. For quite a bit more, you can get these same courses pre-loaded on an Apple iPod Nano or an Apple iPod Shuffle.

This time around, I’m trying MCLEZ’s California Super Bundle Promotion for $99. MCLEZ offers 25 hours of California MCLE credit via online audio and video programs. The programs play through a standard flash-based player that is compatible with both Macs and PCs.


Pedro Nava Seeks to Punish Witnesses of Violent Crimes

Inside Bay Area reports that Assemblymember Pedro Nava will be introducing new legislation to punish witnesses of violent crimes. Do legislators have to approach every single problem with a hammer?

Someone needs to think this through very carefully. Right now, there is no upside to being a witness. If you report the crime, you face real problems with witness intimidation. And, from the Broadcom saga, witness intimidation isn’t the sole province of the mob.

It will be a great day in America when the police starts Mirandizing witnesses before interviewing them. I think that will really encourage them to open up.


The Meaning of Christmas

Earlier this week, I saw A Charlie Brown Christmas on ABC. The highlight is Linus’ monologue at the end when he explains the meaning of Christmas. Evidently, some adults didn’t watch or learn from this Christmas special in their formative years.

The Salvation Army purports to “preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.” If that is the case, why is the Salvation Army checking on the immigration status of children during their toy drives? Seriously. WWJD. Become a member of the border patrol? Talk about taking the Christ out of Christmas. Even Santa delivers gifts to children around the world and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t share his naughty-or-nice list with the elves at US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.


Automotive Windshield Washer Fluid in California

If you live in Los Angeles, Orange County or the San Francisco Bay Area, you probably refill your windshield washer fluid reservoir with the $1.00 jug of blue windshield washer fluid marked +32°. Even if you use plain tap water, the weather really doesn’t get so cold that it will freeze your washer fluid and crack your reservoir. However, if you are planning a winter excursion to Lake Tahoe, you should be aware of how different laws can affect your trip. First off, the California Department of Transportation provides winter driving tips and information regarding the state’s snow chain laws. To see whether an chain controls are in effect, visit the road information page. If you are using an iPhone or other mobile phone, bookmark the Road Conditions (Mobile) page. Caltrans also provides live traffic cameras, which loads OK on a PC. Not so hot on a Mac unless I paste in the URL for the particular camera into QuickTime Player 7 or WIndow Media Player. Not sure why it doesn’t work the same for newest QuickTime Player 10.

Anyways, for the windshield washer fluid, I was searching around for an under 32° winter mix. I stopped at Pep Boys, Kragen, Target, and Wal-Mart. No one was carrying it because California regulates automotive windshield washer fluid. Basically, you cannot prepare in advance like a reasonably prudent person would and refill your automotive windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter mix of windshield washer fluid. Instead, you have to wait until you reach sanctuary, a/k/a a Type A area. That or buy it online.