Since our previous blog post, several more states have provided tax relief by extending filing and payment deadlines in response to the COVID-19 (“coronavirus”) outbreak. However, numerous state tax departments are also canceling in-person customer service, which could make it more difficult for taxpayers to receive timely answers to their filing questions. We are also seeing the continued impact of COVID-19 on state and local tax litigation as more state courts and administrative tribunals adjourn hearing dates or move to conduct certain proceedings remotely.
Tax Filing Deadline Postponements
In addition to the states discussed in our previous blog post, the following state and local jurisdictions have extended certain tax filing deadlines in response to COVID-19:
The Alabama Department of Revenue announced that it plans to mirror federal income tax deadline extensions. The Department will provide further details on its website. The state has also extended deadlines for small retail businesses to pay their February, March, and April sales tax liabilities. In addition, the state has extended the deadline to renew motor vehicle registrations and pay property taxes on vehicles.
Louisiana and New Orleans
The Louisiana Department of Revenue has extended sales, beer excise, and wine excise tax return deadlines and payments for the February 2020 tax period from March 20, 2020 to May 20, 2020.
New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell announced that the city will waive fines, fees, interest, and penalties on sales tax payments due to the city for 60 days.
In addition to Maryland’s business-related filing deadline extensions (as covered in our previous blog post), the Maryland Comptroller announced that the state will extend the deadline for paying Maryland individual and business income taxes to July 15, 2020, thereby conforming to the recently announced federal income tax extension.
The Michigan Department of Treasury is allowing taxpayers to file and pay sales, use, and withholding taxes that are due March 20, 2020 up to 30 days late (by April 20, 2020) without incurring interest or penalties.
The Minnesota Revenue Department has granted a 30-day extension for certain bars, restaurants, and other places of public accommodation to pay their February sales tax liabilities, pushing the deadline from March 20, 2020 to April 20, 2020.
The North Carolina Department of Revenue is allowing taxpayers to request penalty waivers for failure to timely obtain a license, file a return, or pay a tax that is due between March 15, 2020, and March 31, 2020, if the license is obtained, the return or extension application is filed, or the tax is paid by April 15, 2020.
South Carolina and Charleston
The South Carolina Department of Revenue announced that certain individuals and businesses (specifically, taxpayers that are located, have an office, maintain tax records, or use a tax preparer in South Carolina) will have until June 1, 2020 to file and pay taxes for returns that are due between April 1, 2020 and June 1, 2020.
Charleston announced that it is delaying the collection of local accommodation and hospitality taxes for 90 days in order to ease the burden on small businesses.
In addition, numerous tax departments are canceling in-person customer service. Some, such as the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, have even closed their customer service call centers. Instead, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is encouraging taxpayers to use the Department’s Online Customer Service Center to electronically submit a question to a Department representative. The Illinois Department of Revenue has also announced that taxpayer assistance phone system agents are currently unavailable. We expect that additional state revenue departments may take similar approaches in the coming weeks.
In addition to the states discussed in our previous blog post, the following states have postponed trials and administrative hearings in response to COVID-19:
The Supreme Court of Delaware has canceled all oral arguments scheduled through the end of May 2020. The Court will decide all March, April, and May appeals without argument unless a motion is filed no later than March 27, 2020 requesting oral arguments and stating why oral argument is required.
The Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings has cancelled all administrative hearings until the end of March. These cancellations are for all administrative hearing locations in every county in the state.
The Idaho Supreme Court ordered that all civil trials, hearings, and motions be postponed and rescheduled for a later date unless the proceedings can be held and adequately recorded through telephonic or video means.
The Louisiana Supreme Court ordered the state’s courts to postpone new trials. Ongoing trials may continue to conclusion in the discretion of the local court.
The North Carolina Supreme Court directed that all superior and district court proceedings be postponed for at least 30 days, with some limited exceptions. When cases or hearings cannot be postponed for 30 days, remote technologies will be used to the fullest extent possible.
The Virginia Supreme Court ordered the state’s courts to suspend non-essential and non-emergency court proceedings until April 6, 2020.
The West Virginia Supreme Court ordered state trial courts to postpone all civil and criminal trials until April 10, 2020 (except where a criminal defendant’s right to a speedy trial precludes delay).
We expect to see further guidance from various state trial courts and administrative tax tribunals in the coming weeks as they decide how to respond to COVID-19.