"Fantasy" State Tax Time!
The NFL season has started and so has the "Fantasy" football leagues. This is my first year participating in a fantasy football league. At first, I thought it was a little crazy and waste of time; however, I have already found myself getting into it. I guess it is my competitive nature.
With that said, since I am new to the league, I didn't get the best players. We'll have to wait and see how it plays out.
Real v. Fantasy?
In regards to state taxes, what is real and what is "fantasy"? If you have dealt with state taxes for several years, you have seen states propose complex legislation, and burdensome legislation. You have also seen states piggy-back off each other or follow each other's lead when adopting new legislation. Legislation in one state often becomes an epidemic across the country.
Simplification and uniformity appear to be "fantasy." It has been tried and is continuing to be tried with organizations like the Mulitstate Tax Commission, federal legislation and the streamlined sales tax project.
The opposition to simplification and uniformity, I believe, continues to be the fact that each state has different economies which require different taxing structures. Also, each state has different political climates which can play a big part. The other significant piece in this ongoing discussion is how state sovereignty plays into it. All states actually have the right to impose their own taxing structures. Why should states have the same tax laws?
Well, the obvious answer is that businesses need uniformity and simplification to decrease the burden of compliance. However, maybe the problem isn't that the laws are all different, its that the implementation and compliance is burdensome. Meaning, it may be okay to have different laws as long as complying with those laws is simple.
As a state tax consultant that seeks to provide businesses with leverage (knowledge, judgment and advocacy), I don't mind the lack of uniformity and lack of simplification. What may produce a bad result in one state, could produce a good result in another. Meaning, the lack of uniformity not only presents challenges, but also opportunities.
My fantasy is that the state and local tax world would continue to evolve (remain complex) and create more challenges and opportunities. Maybe that wish is more reality than fantasy.
What do you think? What do you want to see happen with state and local taxes across the country? Do you see the lack of uniformity as a burden or opportunity? Is your glass half-full or half-empty?
Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State Tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website: www.leveragestateandlocaltax.com
You can reach Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because state and local taxes are deceptively simple and endlessly complicated.