By George Olsen, Chair, MSCPA Legislative & Governmental Affairs Committee
At our Legislative meeting Monday morning we talked about the progress of the bills we are following in the Legislature. Holly Franz, our lobbyist, reported on the hearing on House Bill 550—Revise laws related to corporate loss carryback and carryforward, last week in the Senate Tax Committee.
The bill would change the net operating loss carryforward and carryback periods from the current back three years and forward seven years to back two and forward 20. It was interesting to see the different perspective people have on allowing corporations to use their losses against future or past income. Many in the hearing room wanted to allow greater availability to use the losses while some wanted to limit the use of the losses because of the effect on the State’s budgeting. They feel that limiting the deductions for the losses lets the state smooth out the ups and downs in budget revenue and avoids large expenditures for tax refunds in years when the state is experiencing revenue losses because of a downturn in the overall economy. The same argument could be made for not allowing the state to collect excess tax revenue in years when the economy is booming and creating surpluses.
In our minds, CPAs feel that deductions for losses should not be limited since they are real, hard dollar losses and the state only bears the burden to the extent of refunds of 6.75 cents on the dollar. So we offered an amendment that we feel makes this bill more palatable. The amendment our lobbyist, Holly Franz, offered on our behalf:
- Amends current procedure to provide that taxpayers electing a carryback or carryforward on their federal return automatically make the same election on their state tax return
- Allows a taxpayer to elect a different carryback or carryforward on their state taxes if they affirmatively choose to do so
The benefits of this are it:
- Simplifies the net operating loss election process for taxpayers
- Reduces errors on tax returns
- Is easy for the state to administer since federal return has to be attached to the state return
- There’s no fiscal impact
The bill was amended in committee to increase the carryback period to three years and limit the carryforward period to 10 years, three more than the current seven years but much less than the 20 years in the original bill. The carryback is limited to $500,000 per year. CPAs are inclined to think in terms of fairness to their clients while the folks in charge of the state budget think in terms of the short-term budget effect. It’s interesting to see what happens when the interests of the two camps clash.
The bill is scheduled for third reading in the Senate tomorrow (04/12). Stay tuned for more information on this, and other bills we are monitoring on your behalf, as the Legislature wraps up.