Resolution in Opposition to Mandatory Unitary Combined Reporting
Many states have adopted, or are considering adopting, mandatory unitary combined reporting (“MUCR”) into their corporate tax regimes. MUCR may be an aggressive reporting method used to determine state taxable income for a group of affiliated corporations. At its most basic level, MUCR treats a group of affiliated corporations engaged in a “unitary business” as a single taxpayer notwithstanding traditional notions of corporate separateness. This treatment results in taxing income earned outside the state. The main rationale for adopting MUCR is closing perceived corporate tax “loopholes.” However, instead of closing so-called loopholes, MUCR permits a state to tax income earned outside of its boundaries. Further, MUCR creates additional administrative burdens for reporting corporations and state tax administrators, thereby creating an economic drag on the state economy and an unneeded increase in state government bureaucracy.
WHEREAS, many states generally compute taxable income separately for each corporation that has taxable presence or “nexus” in the state (“separate reporting”), thereby ensuring that only income earned in the state is taxed in the state; and
WHEREAS, MUCR not only subjects corporate income earned in the state to tax, but may also subject income earned by related, out-of-state corporations to tax, which results in an unjust and overreaching increase to the state’s overall tax base; and
WHEREAS, many states are considering the adoption of MUCR as a way to shift the corporate tax burden from local in-state corporations to multi-state corporations, thereby creating an uncompetitive environment that impermissibly interferes with interstate commerce, which unnecessarily creates additional constitutional concerns and also leads to increased tax litigation; and
WHEREAS, the use of MUCR may reflect an incorrect presumption that all business lines of a corporation and its affiliates operate at the same level of profitability in all states, which creates a risk that taxable income may be unfairly apportioned to such state, and
WHEREAS, MUCR imposes multiple compliance burdens and substantial tax litigation, as has been the case in California and Illinois; and
WHEREAS, the MUCR regime, as imposed by some states, hurts US competitiveness by taxing foreign income and thus discouraging investment; and
WHEREAS, MUCR may result in assigning income to companies with in-state losses, and such distortions will likely vary among corporations in similar business lines in a state giving one corporation a competitive advantage over another, thereby creating an unlevel playing field among MUCR “winners” and MUCR “losers”; and
WHEREAS, there are alternative means that states have adopted to combat perceived “abusive” tax planning strategies without many of the adverse consequences of MUCR; and
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, That [insert state] opposes MUCR in every instance where the outcome results in an overly burdensome and overreaching method of determining state corporate income tax liability, and encourages legislators in states that have adopted MUCR in such an overly burdensome manner to revise it or re-enact the separate reporting method, as well as encourage legislators in states that are considering a change from separate reporting to an overly burdensome MUCR regime to oppose any such proposal.
Approved by the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force on July 17, 2009.
Approved by the ALEC Board of Directors on August 27, 2009.
Keyword Tags: Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force