Currently Washington businesses that purchase items for resale may self-issue resale certificates to avoid paying sales tax. Beginning January 1, 2010 reseller permits issued by the Washington State Department of Revenue ("DOR") will be required in order to purchase items at wholesale and avoid sales tax. The new system was put in place to reduce non compliance with sales tax regulations. If you make wholesale purchases in Washington, you can apply for a reseller permit by going to http://dor.wa.gov/resellerpermit. You may either print an application, complete it and fax or mail to to DOR or, if your business is registered with My Account at www.dor.wa.gov, you may apply on-line.
Businesses registered with the DOR before January 1, 2009, may obtain a reseller permit that is valid for four years. Businesses registered with the DOR on or after January 1, 2009, may obtain a permit valid for two years that can be renewed for four years. Permits for the construction industry are valid for twelve (12) months. Qualifying contractors must reapply each year and provide information about materials and contract labor purchases.
Without a reseller permit, businesses will have to pay sales tax on purchases made for resale and thereafter go through a cumbersome process to obtain a rebate for the sales taxes paid. Businesses making purchases for resale in Washington are encouraged to apply for a reseller permit as soon as possible in order to obtain their reseller permit before the end of the year.
After years of economic development focused on resource extraction and gaming, the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, a federally-recognized tribe located in South Dakota, recently purchased the Westrock Group, making the company the first fully Tribally-owned investment firm.
This purchase signals not only a major shift in Tribal economic development focus, it also provides the Westrock Group with a huge advantage over other investment firms. Because it is a Tribally-owned business, the firm will not be liable for Federal income tax. Tribal ownership will also give Westrock access to funds that were previously off-limits because Westrock was not a minority-owned business. Now the company may reach out to state pension funds, college endowments, and other government contractors that require a part of their money to be invested through minority-owned firms.
Without question, the growth potential for Westrock and the returns realized by the Tribe may herald a new era of Tribal economic development.
Join Ater Wynne's Labor and Employment Group for a seminar on the year's top 10 developments in employment law The seminar will be held at Bridgeport Brewing Company on Thursday, December 10, 2009, 8 to 11 am.
Among the grounds for subject matter jurisdiction in federal court is diversity jurisdiction, which is available when the plaintiff and defendant are citizens of different states. A corporation's citizenship is defined as its "principal place of business," and if a corporate defendant's principal place of business is in the state where plaintiff is a citizen, federal court may be unavailable as a forum. A case currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court will resolve which of several tests is appropriate for determining a corporation's principal place of business.
On November 10, 2009 the Supreme Court heard oral argument in the case of Hertz Corp. v. Friend. In that case, the Ninth Circuit had applied the "place of operations" test, rather than the "nerve center," "center of activity," or "totality of the circumstances" tests favored in other circuits. The court's ruling will be of vital importance to corporations looking to avoid being sued in state courts, which can be more plaintiff-friendly than federal courts.
The EEOC has long required most employers to provide information to employees about federal employment discrimination laws that prohibit job discrimination based on characteristics including race, sex, and religion. To help with compliance, the EEOC for some time has provided a poster for employers to use.
Recent law changes have caused the EEOC to release an updated version of the poster. Among the changes contained in the November 2009 version are a revised "Disability" section that includes the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (effective January 1, 2009), and a new "Genetics" section summarizing the employment nondiscrimination requirements of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) (effective November 21, 2009).
The EEOC will release posters written in Spanish, Chinese and Arabic in the next few days. Employers should replace the existing poster with the revised version immediately. Note that the EEOC has rules regarding where the poster must be located in the work site.
Last week the Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed a jury's verdict that FedEx defrauded one of its independent contractors, but remanded on the ground that $7 million in punitive damages was excessive. In Wieber v. FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., plaintiffs had an independent contractor agreement with FedEx to pick up and deliver packages in a designated area. After FedEx terminated the agreement, plaintiffs sued on several theories, including fraud. The jury found in favor of plaintiffs, awarding compensatory damages of $350,000 and puntive damages of $7 million.
The Court of Appeals first held that a claim for intentional intererence with economic relations was defective as a matter of law and should not have gone to the jury. Plaintiffs claimed that, by terminating the contract, FedEx interfered with their relationships with customers in the designated territory. But because only "strangers" to a contract can be liable for interference, and because FedEx was not a stranger but was "inextricably linked" with plaintiffs' relationship with their customers, FedEx could not be liable for tortious interference.
The Court of Appeals then affirmed the fraud claim, based on a false representation by a FedEx representative that plaintiffs would receive advance notice before the contract was terminated. The amount of punitive damages awarded on that claim was 20 times the actual damages, which is excessive under the Due Process Clause. The court ordered a new trial on the amount of punitive damages unless plaintiffs agreed to an award of three times compensatory damages.
See our earlier coverage of Oregon case law on punitive damages and the Due Process Clause here.