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online sales tax issue

Legislative Session Improves Business Landscape in Arizona

The Arizona Small Business Association (ASBA), the largest trade association in Arizona representing over 11,000 member businesses in all 15 counties, tracked 65 bills during Arizona’s 51st Legislature (Jan. 14 – June 13, 2013), eight of which were Priority Bills. ASBA has announced all eight Priority Bills passed.

“We have a strong sense of responsibility to our members and Arizona’s business community,” states Jerry Bustamante, ASBA sr. vice president of public policy. “We understand that our actions influence how our elected officials vote and that our members hold us to a high standard.”

To advocate for businesses throughout Arizona, ASBA focused on five legislative priorities: 1) Taxation, 2) Regulation, 3) Economic Development, 4) Health Care and 5) Education.

“Bills signed into law such as HB 2147 and 2324 are excellent examples of a good public policy that, collectively, make Arizona more business-friendly and provide relief to existing businesses,” says Rick Murray, CEO of ASBA. “HB 2111, commonly known as TPT, on the other hand, is a single bill that will make a dramatic contribution that will completely change the landscape in which businesses operate. TPT will provide a much needed overhaul to an overly burdensome tax system.”

Bustamante adds, “ASBA is proud to have been part of, and have taken a leadership role in, the coalition of business groups that fought to reform TPT and bring much-needed relief to Arizona.”

The following were ASBA’s 2013 Priority Bills:

HB 2111: Transaction Privilege Tax Change (TPT)

  • Sponsor: Rep. Debbie Lesko, LD 21
  • Summary: This is the Transaction Privilege Tax (TPT) simplification bill that intends to significantly reform how sales taxes are collected in Arizona. The intent of the bill is to provide Arizona businesses with, and return Arizona to, a single organization that manages all tax and audit activities. The Arizona Department of Revenue would be charged with creating an online portal to provide a single location to get a TPT permit, file TPT returns and make TPT payments for all jurisdictions in the state.
  • Result: After much debate and compromise, HB 2111 passed out of the House with a 58-1 vote, passed out of the Senate with a 29-0 vote on the legislature’s final day and will soon arrive on Governor Brewer’s desk to be signed into law.

HB 2147: Unemployment Benefits; Proof; Eligibility

  • Sponsor: Rep. Warren Petersen, LD 12
  • Summary: This bill is the latest effort to reform how unemployment benefits are delivered in Arizona and attempts to level the playing field where businesses have been at a disadvantage. This bill provides much-needed relief to Arizona businesses by shifting the burden of proof on an applicant who resigned their employment but claims they were fired. Unemployment insurance applicants, rather than the employer, will have to demonstrate that they involuntarily left employment.
  • Result: HB 2147 passed out of the House with a 34-24 vote, passed out of the Senate with a 17-12 vote and was signed into law by the Governor.

HB 2324: TPT Exemption; Leases; Affiliated Companies

(Municipal Tax Code; Leases)

  • Sponsor: Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, LD 12
  • Summary: This bill exempts commercial leases from TPT tax when the owner of the business and the building being leased is one in the same. Municipalities and special taxing districts are prohibited from levying a transaction privilege or use tax on gross income derived from leasing real property between affiliated companies, businesses or persons, or by a reciprocal insurer. Cities that do collect such taxes may continue to require payment until October of 2013.
  • Result: HB 2324 passed out of the House with a 58-0 vote, passed out of the Senate with a 29-0 vote and was signed into law by the Governor.

HB 2336: Taxation; Retail Classification; Cash Equivalents

  • Sponsor: Rep. Tom Forese, LD 17
  • Summary: This bill exempts a number of items referred to as “cash equivalents” purchased in advanced in a dollar value denomination from retail TPT tax. These cash equivalents are gift cards, vouchers, money orders and traveler’s checks. No TPT is paid to buy a gift card, but TPT is paid when a gift card is used to purchase goods.
  • Result: HB 2336 passed out of the House with a 59-0 vote, passed out of the Senate with a 29-0 vote on the legislature’s final day and will soon arrive on Governor Brewer’s desk to be signed into law.

HB 2599: Procurement Code; Amendments

  • Sponsor: Rep. Justin Pierce, LD 25
  • Summary: This bill amends Arizona’s procurement code to more closely scrutinize state employees involved in purchasing decisions who move back and forth between government and private sector jobs. The bill also makes technical changes in how the state selects the winner of an RFP, and its overall intent is for government to operate more like the private sector.
  • Result: HB 2599 passed out of the House with a 59-0 vote, passed out of the Senate with a 24-0 vote and was signed into law by the Governor.

SB 1168: Internal Revenue Code Conformity

  • Sponsor: Steve Yarbrough, LD 17
  • Summary: This bill makes changes to Arizona’s income tax laws to ensure that they conform to the federal IRS code in effect as of January 1, 2013.
  • Result: SB 1168 passed out of the Senate with a 28-0 vote, passed out of the House with a 58-0 vote and was signed into law by the Governor.

SB 1169: Prop 117, Conformity

  • Sponsor: Steve Yarbrough, LD 17
  • Summary: This bill makes various changes to the Arizona revised statutes in order to conform to Proposition 117 (property tax assessed valuation; limitation), which was passed by Arizona voters during the 2012 general election. Proposition 117 had nothing to do with the tax rate, but caps at five percent the maximum increase in property value that taxable real property can grow in a certain year.
  • Result: SB 1169 passed out of the Senate with a 28-0 vote, passed out of the House with a 58-0 vote and was signed into law by the Governor.

SB 1233: Limited Liability Companies; Ownership Interests

  • Sponsor: Senator Adam Driggs, LD 28
  • Summary: We refer to this bill as the estate planning bill. This bill amends the Limited Liability Company Act by adding a new provision that governs members as it relates to forms of ownership. An interest in a limited liability company (LLC) may be held by two or more people as joint tenants with right of survivorship, or by a married couple as community property with right of survivorship, except as prohibited or restricted in an operating agreement.
  • Result: SB 1233 passed out of the Senate with a 28-0 vote, passed out of the House with a 56-0 vote and was signed into law by the Governor.

ASBA develops its policy positions and statements through its Public Policy Committee, which is comprised of ASBA members providing volunteer leadership and key ASBA staff. Under the direction of ASBA’s Board of Directors, the Public Policy Committee is charged with conducting research, surveying the membership, developing ASBA legislative priorities tracking bills and taking action to influence the passage or defeat of bills. Learn more about ASBA and its role in public policy, visit www.asba.com or call 602-306-4000 or 520.327.0222.

sales.tax

Arizona Business Community Supports HB2111

The undersigned organizations and businesses want to express their strong support for the passage of HB2111 with the floor amendment that will be offered by Senator Steve Yarbrough. This final amendment represents major concessions to address concerns that have been expressed by the city representatives.

This final amendment reflects the cities’ request for a separate online portal for the collection of sales taxes in the 18 non-program cities. In addition, the amendment reflects the cities’ demand to maintain the authority to audit single-location businesses in their city. Lastly, the amendment removes all of the changes to prime contracting tax except for the trade and service contractors.

While the Yarbrough amendment reflects major concessions to the cities that undermine some of the important reforms recommended by the Transaction Privilege (Sales) Tax Simplification Task Force, we believe this final proposal still reflects historic progress that deserves final passage.

The Senator Yarbrough floor amendment will provide for the following:

* Single Point of Administration – the Department of Revenue (DOR) will become the single point of administration and collection of TPT. However, at the request of the cities, there will be a separate online portal for the 18 non-program cities. Despite this concession, the cities remain opposed because they want to continue to require businesses making paper sales tax remissions to pay the state and city separately. Their proposal provides most small businesses no administrative relief from making multiple payments to multiple jurisdictions each month.

* Single and Uniform Audit – DOR will administer a standardized state audit program where all state and city auditors are trained and certified by DOR. Despite major concessions from the business community to allow cities to continue to audit local businesses, the cities continue to push for further changes that will undermine much needed reforms to standardize state and local audits.

* Trade/Service Contracting Reform – Service contractors working directly for an owner to maintain, repair, and replace existing property would pay tax on materials at retail and not be subject to the Prime Contracting Tax. During Task Force deliberations, the cities repeatedly conceded that this area of the prime contracting tax was problematic and should be changed. However, after almost a year of study and discussion, they have offered a change to the taxation of service contractors that provides no administrative relief and couples that change with a request that the state give the cities $80 million from use tax collections.

Arizona’s chaotic and dysfunctional sales tax system has been the subject of considerable controversy at the Capitol for over 30 years. The creation of the Task Force, as well as the appearance for the first time that the cities recognized the need for reform, gave Arizona businesses great hope that this system would finally be reformed. We strongly encourage state policymakers to pass a sales tax reform bill that is grounded in sound tax policy and focuses on reducing the extraordinary compliance costs on Arizona businesses.

Kevin McCarthy, President, Arizona Tax Research Association
Michelle Lind, Chief Executive Officer, Arizona Association of REALTORS
Bas Aja, Executive Vice President, Arizona Cattlemen’s Association
Glenn Hamer, President & CEO, Arizona Chamber of Commerce
Steve Macias, Chairman, Arizona Manufacturer’s Council
Francis McAllister, Chairman, Arizona Mining Association
Courtney LeVinus, Arizona Multihousing Association
Michelle Allen Ahlmer, Executive Director, Arizona Retailers Association
Steve Chucri, President/CEO, Arizona Restaurant Association
Rick Murray, Chief Executive Officer, Arizona Small Business Association
Steve Zylstra, President & CEO, Arizona Technology Council
Greg Turner, Vice President, Senior Tax Council, Council On State Taxation (COST)
Lisa Rigler, President, Small Business Alliance AZ
Todd Sanders, President & CEO, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce
Tom Franz, President, Greater Phoenix Leadership
Connie Wilhelm, President, Home Builders Association of Central Arizona
Tim Lawless, Chapter President, NAIOP
Farrell Quinlan, Arizona State Director, NFIB
Ronald E. Shoopman, President, Southern Arizona Leadership Council
Scot Mussi, President, The Arizona Free Enterprise Club
Matt Beckler, Vice President, Treasurer & Chief Tax Officer, Apollo Group, Inc.
Steve Barela, State & Local Tax Manager, Arizona Public Service
Steve Trussell, Executive Director, Arizona Rock Products Association
Michael DiMaria, Director of Legislative Affairs, CenturyLink, Inc.
Gayle Shanks, Owner, Changing Hands Bookstore
Michelle Bolton, Director of Public Affairs, Cox Communications
Nikki Daly, Owner, Flair! Salons
David Karsten, President, Karsten’s Ace Hardware
Reuben Minkus, Minkus Advertising Specialties
PetSmart, Inc.
Tina Danloe, General Manager, Pima Ace Hardware
Molly Greene, Senior Government Relations Representative, Salt River Project
Les Orchekowsky, President & Co-Owner, Sierra Ace Hardware, Inc.
Ann Seiden, Administrator/Corporate Public Affairs, Southwest Gas Corporation
Joseph Hughes, Director of Government Affairs, U.S. Airways
Walgreens Co.

Glenn Hamer is president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans.

fresh produce

New Arizona Law Makes It Easier For Farmers To Donate Fresh Produce

A new Arizona law aims to increase fresh produce donations directly from farmers to food banks and other charities. The Western Growers-sponsored bill signed last night by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer allows farmers to receive tax deductions if they donate some of the crops they produce—literally giving away the fruits of their labor to the hungry. Building on the spirit of giving, the law revises previously complicated rules for the donations in hopes of boosting charitable contributions.

Sponsored by Arizona Sen. Steve Yarbrough (R-Chandler), the new law will apply to all 2012 tax year Arizona grown fresh produce donations.

“I am very pleased and appreciate the action whereby Gov. Brewer signed my Senate Bill 1121. This bill will make farm fresh produce donated to food banks easier to accomplish and will greatly benefit some of the most needy in our society,” said Yarbrough. “I applaud Western Growers for urging this legislation.”

Arizona food banks are also excited about the new law.

“We’re looking for good, solid nutritious food. And fresh produce, you can’t hardly get any better than that,” said Ginny Hildebrand, president & CEO of the Association of Arizona Food Banks. “We’re really excited about the potential of this law. What we know is that these growers and owners of fresh produce products in Arizona have one purpose in mind—that is to feed hungry people. They don’t grow product to see it wasted.”

Analysis from the food bank shows that less than 1 percent of fresh produce grown in Arizona was donated to food banks in past years. Hildebrand hopes the new law will change that. The law makes these fresh produce donations common sense by allowing farmers and others to deduct the wholesale market price of the fresh produce for tax purposes. The law also gets rid of complicated restrictions that entire crops be harvested on behalf of a charity. That means farmers can immediately donate food when they choose.

That’s important for Arizona farmers like Western Growers board member Gary Pasquinelli of Pasquinelli Produce Company, who heard about a similar law developed with help from Western Growers in California. Pasquinelli asked the right question: Why not a similar law in Arizona? Paul Muthart, also of Pasquinelli Produce Company, then provided critical input to make sure the tax deduction would work with businesses tax structures.

Established in 1984, the Association of Arizona Food Banks is a private, non-profit organization serving five-member regional food banks (Community Food Bank, Desert Mission Food Bank, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, United Food Bank, Yuma Community Food Bank) and a network of nearly 1,600 food pantries and agencies. As one of the first state associations in the nation and an inaugural partner state association of Feeding America, AAFB was instrumental in the development of a statewide gleaning project, and our advocacy efforts have brought about beneficial state and federal legislation for our member food banks and the people they serve. For more information, to find a food bank or pantry in your area, or to learn more about donation and volunteer opportunities, please visit www.azfoodbanks.org.