Broker Check

February 28, 2000

,, Ebay, Yahoo and America Online are some of the  more  well  known  e-businesses on the Internet.   Recently,   several  new     e-businesses became clients of ours. It is likely more will. We publish this to help those potential e-businessers consider potential tax  credits and  incentives before  committing  to locate an e-business in  a  particular  region.  Many  countries  and  states offer a variety of tax credits, tax  holidays and other incentives to encourage a business to locate in their jurisdiction.

Important Cybertax Issues for e-business

          The  Internet  Tax  Freedom  Act  (ITFA),  enacted  in  October  1998, provides  a  three-year  moratorium  on  new  state  taxes  on  Internet  access  charges,  and on “discriminatory”  and  “multiple”  taxes.  However,  the  ITFA  does  not  eliminate existing  cybertaxes--a  grandfather provision  allows states that imposed taxes on Internet  access  before  October,  1998  to  continue  to  collect  those  taxes.   Additionally,  if  an e-business  company  has  a  physical presence  in a state, t he company  will  need to collect the state’s  sales and use taxes from  its  online customers.  Therefore, it  is important  for  e-businesses to  understand  cybertax  issues and  plan  for compliance/financial obligations. Some points to consider:

        •  Understand the administrative burden of cybertax liabilities.      
            Thirty thousand taxing jurisdictions in the United States can require up     
            to 6,500 different tax forms.  Internationally, more than 200  countries  
            impose direct and indirect taxes on transactions conducted via the   
        •  Establish operations in cybertax-friendly states (e.g., California, New
           York)  or in states without a sales tax (e.g., Delaware, Oregon).  The 
           applicability of state and local taxes on business entities, as  well  as sales
           tax collection responsibilities, is based  primarily on  the degree of  
           business  activity or physical presence in the jurisdiction (i.e., nexus).
       •  Consider foreign tax requirements, even if the e-business is not yet 
           operating  in  a foreign  jurisdiction. Internationally, cybertax-friendly
           countries include Bermuda,  Netherlands and Singapore.  An  e-           
           business’s  “permanent  establishment”   (defined  by  each country’s  
           rules  and  tax  treaties)  will determine  which  country’s tax rules apply.
           Also, understand requirements  related to customs, value-added taxes,
           and other duties/taxes, and consider the costs of compliance.    
           Investigate tax treaties and what types of transactions will require tax
           returns to be filed.     
       •  Evaluate potential tax credits and incentives before committing to locate
          an e-business in a particular region. Many countries and states offer a
          variety of tax credits, tax holidays, and other incentives to encourage e-
          businesses to  locate in  their  jurisdiction.   Some of these incentives  are  
          defined  by  statute and are available to  all companies;  however,  many 
          incentives  are negotiable. 
      •  Create   an   audit  trail  and   understand   record  retention  policies. 
          Tax  authorities generally require that records,  including   electronic
          records,  be retained for periods ranging from three to seven years. Many 
          tax authorities  still require paper documents with original signatures.
      •  Consider the tax implications of an e-business strategy before finalizing the  
          plan and beginning the design and implementation phases. Relatively
          minor operational changes or modifications to contractual terms can 
         dramatically impact the business’s tax obligations.     
      •  Build tax information and collection fields  into smart web  sites, but do   
          not activate these fields. E-businesses that prepare now will be ready   
          when and if the company becomes subject to tax requirements due to
          changes in either business operations or tax policy.

           All   e-businesses   should   participate   in  the  cybertax  policy  debate.   The  Organization  for   Economic   Cooperation  and  Development  is  leading efforts  to   create  uniform  international  tax  rules for  e-business.  In  the  state and  local tax arena,  the  ITFA  created a congressionally  appointed  Advisory Commission  to  study cybertax  issues.  After   holding  three  meetings,   the Advisory   Commission   is divided  over  two  policy  options-- (1) making the  Internet  a  tax-free  zone,  or  (2) simplifying   the  current  sales  and  use  tax system,  and  expanding  the obligation  to  collect  sales  tax to all remote sellers.

Welcome Nadine and Chadina!

          In an  effort to deliver  better  service  we have  divided  the  administrative responsibilities of  the five businesses  between two new administrative assistants. Tax, Accounting and  Legal will be handled by Chadina Carriman  and  Investing activities and Insurance will be handled  by  Nadine Boodhoo.  When you call  on your particular matter please ask for the appropriate  assistant  who will first try to assist you, and if they cannot, will then assist me in handling your matter. Thanking you in advance.

          If you have any questions about these or any other tax or financial issues, please call me.