April 20, 2018

Taxing Matters, Starbucks and A Fond Farewell

Taxing Matters, Starbucks and A Fond Farewell

April 17 came and went, but it’s no time for any of us to rest on our laurels. Now is the time to sit down with your tax advisors and do some serious planning. Planning is the key to making sure you have a roadmap for achieving your goals, and that’s especially true this year, because so much has changed under the 2017 tax bill.

If you haven’t already done it, make an appointment to sit down with your accountant to hammer out a strategy for this year. A third of the year is already behind us, so don’t put it off, or you may miss the chance to capitalize on whatever opportunities are still available to you in 2018. One thing we’re offering our clients this year is the opportunity to re-do their 2017 tax return using the new tax law that went into effect for 2018, see the differences and start planning earlier rather than later. If you’re interested, let us know and we’ll get right on it.

For those of you who might not be aware, this week the Supreme Court heard arguments in a bellwether case, South Dakota v. Wayfair, which could potentially change the entire tax landscape for online purchases. If the justices find for the state, online retailers will be obligated to collect and remit local and state sales taxes in any jurisdiction where they have customers, regardless of whether they have a physical presence in that state. The prospect of this is scaring smaller retailers who may not be able to absorb the cost of compliance. The Court is being asked to overturn a 1992 ruling (“Quill”) that exempted retailers from collecting sales tax in states where they don’t have nexus. Marcum’s State and Local Tax Group (“SALT”) practice has been following the case closely. When the Supreme Court renders its decision in June, you will be hearing from us. Stay tuned for next steps.

The other big news this week was Starbucks and the incident of racial bias that occurred at one of its stores in Philadelphia. I’ve got to give it to CEO Kevin Johnson. He’s closing his stores – all 8,000 of them – for the afternoon of May 29 to train 175,000 employees on inclusion and how to avoid racial bias, to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again. Johnson knows what he is doing. He’s not willing to let the mistake of one employee damage his brand and is making a huge investment moving the company forward. Kudos to him for leading by example. Let’s hope this one turns out well for everyone.

We were saddened by the news that former First Lady Barbara Bush passed away at age 92 this week. She was a feisty, outspoken, and beloved member of one of America’s best known political families. Politics aside, she was an inspiration to many, always taking the high road and sticking with her principles. The world can use more people like her. May she rest in peace.

And finally, yesterday found me in Bay Shore, in Suffolk County, Long Island, taking part in a CEO Build for Habitat for Humanity. In 45-degree, overcast and rainy weather, I spent most of the day working with 20 other volunteers, framing a house for a family (who also participated) that they will very shortly move into. It’s the first house they will ever have owned. This would not have been possible without the financial support and labor of those of us who volunteered. Most of us take for granted the simple basics in life, food and shelter, not realizing that the roof over our heads we expect is, in fact, a luxury for many who are not as fortunate. The CEO Build was truly a rewarding experience, and I highly recommend it for those of you who never had the privilege to help someone not as fortunate as yourself.