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Brian Gordon, CPA

Brian Gordon, CPA, is the Director of State and Local Taxes at Sanders Thaler Viola & Katz, LLP. Previously, Brian was with the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance as the District Audit Manager in Manhattan and Brooklyn. He is a member of the NYSSCPA New York, Multistate & Local Taxation Committee and writes and speaks on various tax issues. He can be reached at 516-704-7130 or 516-510-6041 and email: bgordon@st-cpas.com.

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Happy New Year! It’s been nice to get to know many people in the tax professional community over the last few years, and I would like to wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Tax Audit Success

My prior experience spanning 30 years with the New York State Tax Department – 12 years as District Audit Manager in the Metropolitan area – gives me unique proficiency to handle tax audits for you or your clients.

We recently closed two audits with extremely favorable results. In one case, I successfully convinced the New York State Tax Department that my client’s domicile was changed to Florida. He was found not to be a New York resident.

Another audit involved Sales Tax where the issue was use tax on assets brought into New York. After being referred this audit from another CPA, I successfully debated the issues and saved the client 50%, or about $200,000.

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

Date: January 17, 2017
Time: Registration/Networking/Dinner: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Program: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Location: The Woodlands @ Woodbury
1 South Woods Road
Woodbury, NY 11797
Topic: State NEXUS Rules for Corp Tax Income Tax and Sales Tax
Credits: 2 CPE/TAX
Cost: On or before Friday, January 13 - Members $65.00/Non-Members $80.00
After Friday, January 13 - Members $80.00/Non-Members $90.00


News and Tax Issues

New York State Statutory Residence – What is credible evidence?

By Brian Gordon, CPA

This past year, a determination was issued in a New York residency case in the Matter of Carl Ruderman for tax year 2007. The Administrative Law Judge for this case was Dennis M. Galliher. The issue was statutory residence.

A taxpayer can be determined to be a resident of New York by either being domiciled in New York (having your primary residence there) or being a statutory resident, meaning that you have a residence in New York and you spend more than 183 days there in any given year.

The New York State Tax Audit Division accepted that Mr. Ruderman was domiciled in Florida; however they determined that he was a statutory resident of New York State and City for 2007. The audit findings resulted in almost $1 million in additional State and City tax, plus interest and penalty. The case involved whether Mr. Ruderman could prove that he was not in New York for over 183 days. The Division’s review revealed credit card charges in a variety of places, including New York City, on days when petitioner claims to have been elsewhere.

According to the law, the taxpayer has the burden to establish by clear and convincing evidence that he was not present in New York City for more than 183 days during the year. This is a heavy burden that should not be taken lightly. The typical evidence examined in audits of this type would be a personal or business diary, backed up by a record of credit card charges and phone bills, including land line and cell phone. Additional records that can indicate your whereabouts are commonly requested and/or subpoenaed, such as EZ-Pass and utility bills.

In a well-known New York State Tax Tribunal case, Matter of Julian Robertson, the taxpayer had a secretary that maintained a diary to track his whereabouts every day of the year. He was prepared for his audit. He had a day count prepared with the filing of his return, which was supported by his diary and records. Since his recordkeeping was very detailed and accurate, the state auditors only had questions on a few days during the year. This case went to the Tax Tribunal with only two days in question. Due to the level of detail maintained, the taxpayer was found to be credible and Robertson was able to win his case resolving the final two questionable days with credible oral testimony.

The Ruderman case, however, is different. The Audit Division’s review revealed credit card charges in a variety of places, including New York City, on days when petitioner claims to have been elsewhere. Mr. Ruderman claimed that although he only had one credit card (one copy), sometimes his wife, children or even his housekeeper could be using the same card. He also did not try to discern which charges were made by which person. As you can see, this is not a very credible argument.

To try to help his case, Mr. Ruderman was able to get affidavits from business associates and acquaintances. One of which stated that Mr. Ruderman was present in Florida from May through the end of November 2007. This is a block of time of seven months, and the affidavit only mentioned one specific event that he recalled which took place during October. Furthermore, there were many credit card charges that took place in New York during this period, hurting the credibility of this affidavit. Not only is the credibility of the affidavit affected, but the entire case is called into question.

It is possible for affidavits to help your case and be accepted as proof that one was not present in New York, however it has to be more specific as to dates and situations that took place on those dates. And you certainly don’t want those affidavits contradicted by better evidence. According to the ALJ in this case:

“The foregoing review bears out that the evidence in this case fails to provide the degree of specificity necessary to establish petitioner’s whereabouts with certainty so as to conclude that he was present outside of New York State and City on the disputed days. Accordingly, petitioner has not met the burden of establishing by clear and convincing evidence that he was not present in New York City on more than 183 days in the year 2007 within the contemplation of Tax Law…”

In summary, when confronted with credit card charges in his name, Mr. Ruderman claimed that he had not made the charges with no evidence or explanation establishing any of the charges as those made by his children or others. When confronted with phone calls made from his New York residence, again he claimed that it wasn’t him. He submitted general affidavits stating he was in Florida for extended periods of time. This was not convincing. In order to be successful, one has to be consistently accurate with the records that are provided to build a level of confidence in their credibility.

If you have any questions regarding residency, or any other state and local issues, please call Brian Gordon at 516-938-5219.

New Jersey Reciprocity Agreement with Pennsylvania Cancelled – Then Saved

By Brian Gordon, CPA

The reciprocity agreement between New Jersey and Pennsylvania allows the residents of each of those states to pay income tax to their home state only, even if they work in the reciprocal state.

As New York tax professionals know, people who work in New York pay tax to New York even if they live in New Jersey or Connecticut. They have to file a New York Non-resident Tax Return, pay tax on their wages and other earnings in New York, and also file a Resident Return in their home state and claim a credit on their home state resident return for taxes paid to the other state. New York does not have a reciprocity agreement with any state, unlike New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

However, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gave notice of termination of the reciprocity agreement on September 2, 2016 (to take effect on January 1, 2017) in order to address a potential $250 billion state budget deficit. But, on November 21, 2016, Governor Christie signed legislation that streamlined and modified the state’s pharmacy benefits system, saving up to $200 million in health care benefits costs and allowing him to save the NJ/PA reciprocal agreement.

With the NJ/PA reciprocity agreement still in place, Pennsylvania residents working in New Jersey do not have to file a New Jersey tax return. The New Jersey employer will withhold tax in the employee’s home state of Pennsylvania. Therefore, the employee only needs to file a Pennsylvania Resident Tax Return. Pennsylvania also has reciprocity agreements with the states of Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.

For more information regarding State and Local Taxes, please visit
Brian Gordon's S.A.L.T Blog at:


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