Texas Register Preamble

The Comptroller of Public Accounts proposes amendment to §3.334, concerning local sales and use taxes.

The comptroller proposes to add subsection (c)(7) regarding the location where an order is received:

"The location where the order is received by or on behalf of the seller means the physical location of a seller or third party such as an established outlet, office location, or automated order receipt system operated by or on behalf of the seller where an order is initially received by or on behalf of the seller and not where the order may be subsequently accepted, completed or fulfilled. An order is received when all of the information from the purchaser necessary to the determination whether the order can be accepted has been received by or on behalf of the seller. The location from which a product is shipped shall not be used in determining the location where the order is received by the seller."

The text is taken from Section 3.10.1C5 of the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement. See https://www.streamlinedsalestax.org/docs/default-source/agreement/ssuta/ssuta-as-amended-through-05-24-23-with-hyperlinks-and-compiler-notes-at-end.pdf.

In its 2014 rulemaking, the comptroller proposed a definition of "receive," but deleted the proposed definition in response to concerns stated in oral and written comments. See (39 TexReg 4179) (May 30, 2014) (proposed rule amendment) and (39 TexReg 9598) (December 5, 2014) (adopted rule amendment).

In its January 2023 rulemaking, the comptroller again declined to adopt a definition of "receive" and instead, addressed the two circumstances that were most prominently debated - automated website orders and fulfillment warehouses. Subsection (b) of the adopted rule articulated the comptroller's interpretation that an automated website "receives" the order and that a fulfillment warehouse does not "receive" the order when it is forwarded from the website to the warehouse. See (48 TexReg 400) (January 27, 2023).

Since then, it has become apparent that other circumstances also require a clear articulation of the comptroller's interpretation of the term "received." Thus, the comptroller is proposing a general standard that is applicable to all situations, as well as to automated website orders and fulfillment warehouses.

The proposed standard comports with the ordinary usage of the terms, as evidenced by the fact that the standard has been approved by twenty-four states under the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement. The proposed standard will also promote uniformity with those states that have elected or will elect origin-based sourcing.

The comptroller is currently in litigation with cities claiming that the location where an order is received should be the location where the vendor forwards the order for fulfillment, rather than the location where the order is received from the customer. See City of Coppell, Texas; the City of Humble, Texas; the City of DeSoto, Texas; the City of Carrollton, Texas; the City of Farmers Branch, Texas; and the City of Round Rock, Texas v. Glenn Hegar, Cause No. D-1-GN-21-003198 in Travis County, Texas District Court. However, as explained more fully in the January 2023 rulemaking, the legislative history indicates that the legislature did not intend a fulfillment warehouse to be the location where the order was received unless the fulfillment warehouse received the order directly from the customer. See (48 TexReg 398) (January 27, 2023).

In addition, as explained more fully in the January 2023 rulemaking (48 TexReg 396), the comptroller's current interpretation goes as far back as Comptroller's Decision No. 15,654 (1985), which stated:

"But it seems to the administrative law judge that the legislature was amending the law if not entirely in reaction to the then-pending case of Bullock v. Dunigan Tool & Supply Co., 588 S.W.2d 633 (Tex. Civ. App.-Texarkana, writ ref'd n.r.e.), at least partly in reaction to that case. And if that be so, then the legislature did not want warehousing and storage facilities (many of which are outside city limits) to be the places where sales were consummated for local sales tax purposes unless orders were actually received there by personnel working there, but wanted the office location out of which the salesman operated to be the place where the sales were consummated."

The comptroller expects this issue to be fully litigated. But in the interim, the comptroller must still apply the local tax consummation statutes to pending controversies, and taxpayers are entitled to understand the basis for the comptroller's rulings. Adoption of a definitive standard may also facilitate a more definitive decision from the courts.

Brad Reynolds, Chief Revenue Estimator, has determined that during the first five years that the proposed amended rule is in effect, the rule: will not create or eliminate a government program; will not require the creation or elimination of employee positions; will not require an increase or decrease in future legislative appropriations to the agency; will not require an increase or decrease in fees paid to the agency; will not increase or decrease the number of individuals subject to the rule's applicability; and will not positively or adversely affect this state's economy.

Mr. Reynolds also has determined that the proposed amended rule would benefit the public by updating the rule to reflect or clarify the current policy. This rule is proposed under Tax Code, Title 2, and does not require a statement of fiscal implications for small businesses or rural communities. The proposed amended rule would have no significant fiscal impact on the state government, units of local government, or individuals. There would be no significant anticipated economic cost to the public.

The comptroller will hold a hearing to take public comments, on November 8, 2023 in Room 2.034 of the Barbara Jordan Building, 1601 Congress Ave., Austin, Texas 78701. Interested persons may sign up to testify beginning at 8:30 a.m. and testimony will be heard on a first come first serve basis. All persons will have 10 minutes to present their testimony and shall also provide their testimony in writing prior to their oral testimony.

You may submit comments on the proposal to Jenny Burleson, Director, Tax Policy Division, P.O. Box 13528 Austin, Texas 78711 or to the email address: tp.rule.comments@cpa.texas.gov. The comptroller must receive your comments no later than 30 days from the date of publication of the proposal in the Texas Register.

The comptroller proposes the amendment under Tax Code, §§111.002 (Comptroller's Rule; Compliance; Forfeiture); 321.306 (Comptroller's Rules); 322.203 (Comptroller's Rules); 323.306 (Comptroller's Rules), which authorize the comptroller to adopt rules to implement the tax statutes.

The amendment to this section implements Tax Code, §151.0595 (Single Local Tax Rate for Remote Sellers); Tax Code, Chapter 321, Subchapters A, B, C, D, and F; Tax Code, Chapter 322; Tax Code, Chapter 323.

Next Page Previous Page

Link to Texas Secretary of State Home Page | link to Texas Register home page | link to Texas Administrative Code home page | link to Open Meetings home page