When I was in law school, Constitutional Law and Tax Policy were my least favorite subjects. Little did I know I would grow up to be a SALT expert and these subjects would be the foundations of my chosen practice area. Not on a day-to-day basis, but as the essential foundation to everything we do.
While my eyes may have occasionally glazed over in class, I did manage to learn that tax policy is what makes the law and it isn’t the law that should be making tax policy. This distinction might seem subtle or nonexistent, but I think is illustrated in all its grandeur in a New York State ALJ Decision, In the Matter of Moody’s Corporation & Subsidiaries, (DTA Nos. 828094 and 828203, October 24, 2019.)
There were four separate issues in this case, but the focus will be on the apportionment of receipts to New York State by the taxpayer, Moody’s Investors Services (MIS). MIS is hired by issuers of corporate debt to perform what we all know as bond rating services used by the investment public in making decisions regarding the appropriateness and the risk of investing in specific debt issues. Both the Tax Department and the taxpayer agreed that MIS performs these services for debt issuers with commercial domiciles throughout the world, the services are “used” by investors throughout the world, but most of the activities (roughly fifty seven percent) in formulating the ratings are performed in New York State.