"Nothing in life is certain except for death and taxes". As this month draws to a close, we can certainly say that October 2011 reminded us just how accurate Ben Franklin was when he uttered this famous phrase.
The all-too-soon death of Steve Jobs, while not completely unexpected, was a jolt to the system, especially as it came almost simultaneously with the introduction of the iPhone 4S. To my mind’s eye, Jobs was a modern day Henry Ford. Ford didn’t invent the automobile. But he did study it and figure out a way to build and market a reliable, affordable car that put personal mobility within reach of almost everyone. Similarly, Jobs didn’t invent the PC, the mouse or the touchscreen. But his marketing genious and devotion to ease of use and beautiful design resulted in personal computers, smart phones, and tablets that made personal computing and the internet accessible at reasonable cost to those from 5 to at least 75 (both my daughter and my parents find the iPad equally easy and productive to use). Both Jobs and Ford managed to overhaul the way we live and work. Ford is credited with putting cars in many garages; the devices Jobs pioneered put the likes of websites, Facebook, LinkedIn and FourSquare in our pockets. What better legacy could there be?
Then there’s the tax front. Earlier this month, the United States Supreme Court refused to review Iowa’s assessment of income taxes on royalty payments made by Iowa franchisees to an out-of-state franchisor. You might recall that we discussed this issue at length in a post earlier this year. The Supreme Court’s decision means that, at least for franchisees and franchisors doing business in Iowa, the use a franchisor’s intangible intellectual property by its franchisees within the physical confines of the state of Iowa presents "a sufficient connection to Iowa to justify the imposition of income taxes.
We have been watching, and will continue to watch, in order to see if this decision leads to policy changes in other states. Of course, the Iowa Department of Revenue initiated the case at issue before the Supreme Court without any new legislation, so we all may learn of new state enforcement efforts only after they begin. And, in these tight budget times, states will likely be looking for new revenue streams and, at the same time, not want to highlight their efforts in this regard. We will report on any new developments.