Matthew Mann
January 7, 2009 | Compliance | Matthew Mann

January Brings Compliance Changes, So Stay Frosty

January brings a new year and usually that means changes to the compliance landscape. Yes, just when you’re finally into a nice routine of filling out your compliance forms and knowing where you can ship and how much, the powers that be go out and change everything. A new form here, a tax change there, some new volume limitation, or a new filing deadline. It’s the kind of thing that can drive a compliance specialist nuts, as we tend to be rather detail-oriented creatures by the nature of our jobs.

There are some new filing requirements for 2009 but relative to some years January 2009 is proving to be a pretty quiet start to the year as far as compliance changes are concerned. Some changes involve the manner in which you file (e-Filing continues to be a growing trend) and some reports are requiring additional information not previously collected, so be aware. But nothing truly earthshaking happened to the compliance landscape as a result of the turn of the clock to midnight on December 31st. No new states suddenly became open to consumer direct shipping and no significant new rules took hold.

There was the Cherry Hill decision handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit on the last day of 2008 striking down Kentucky’s ”face-to-face” statutory requirement. This was a tremendous victory for direct shipping advocates and, along with the Baude ruling by the 7th Circuit earlier in the year that reached the opposite conclusion, will go a long way to bringing this issue before the U.S. Supreme Court in the future. But in and of itself the ruling will not open Kentucky to direct shipping in the near future without other changes to Kentucky law.

Still, January is always a good time to take stock, break your routines, and stay aware of any possible changes to the compliance landscape. Just because there were no major changes doesn’t mean you don’t need to be aware of little changes or even to verify that nothing has changed. A couple good ideas to follow:

  • Check all compliance forms for any changes. Sometimes lines are omitted and/or added or information is required to be formatted in a different way.
  • Be aware of even small tax changes. You may not see new taxes imposed but that doesn’t mean small changes don’t occur, particularly to local sales taxes which can rise or fall as authorizing statutes become effective or expire.
  • Verify deadlines remain the same. Deadlines can be all over the map so be sure nothing has changed.
  • Volume limits can change so it’s always a good idea to check the limits, at least in the states to which you ship most frequently. REthink Compliance maintains a menu of all state shipping laws that is accessible to anyone as a resource.
  • Finally, verify that you still need to file in the same manner you did previously. As mentioned above, e-Filing and e-Pay solutions are becoming more and more prevalent and are moving from option status to mandatory. Check to be sure that paper form still satisfies state requirements.

The coming year will certainly see more changes to the direct shipping environment so be thankful for the relatively quiet January. As always, I’ll do my best to keep you up to date as these changes occur. Happy New Year!


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