by
Louis Hansen was indicted for tax evasion and tax obstruction. Before trial, Hansen purported to waive his right to counsel. The district court held a hearing to determine whether this waiver was made knowingly and intelligently. At that hearing, the district court asked Hansen, among other things, whether he understood he would be required to follow federal procedural and evidentiary rules if he proceeded without counsel. Hansen’s response was at best ambiguous and unclear; at one juncture, he specifically told the court that he did not understand that he would be required to abide by these rules. Without seeking clarification from Hansen, the court accepted the waiver. Hansen represented himself at trial, and the jury convicted him of both tax evasion and tax obstruction. On appeal, Hansen argued that his waiver of the right to counsel was invalid because it was not made knowingly and intelligently. The Tenth Circuit concluded the district court incorrectly determined that Hansen’s waiver was knowing and intelligent. In particular, the Court determined the trial court failed to engage in a sufficiently thorough colloquy with Hansen that would properly warn him that if he proceeded pro se, he would be obliged to adhere to federal procedural and evidentiary rules. The district court’s waiver determination was reversed and the matter remanded to vacate Hansen’s conviction and to conduct further proceedings. View "United States v. Hansen" on Justia Law

by
In operating his companies, Rankin failed to remit to the IRS employees’ withholding taxes and inaccurately reported his own earnings as royalties (26 U.S.C. 7202, 7206, 7212). Rankin interfered with and delayed IRS investigations, filing amended returns containing false information and falsely claiming that fire had destroyed his records. Rankin bragged about his efforts to beat the IRS at its own game. He was convicted of 17 tax-related counts, sentenced to 60 months in prison, and required to pay restitution. The Sixth Circuit affirmed his conviction and sentence, modifying his judgment to reflect that he need not pay restitution until his term of supervised release commences. The court rejected a challenge to Count 17, which alleged that during the relevant time, Rankin had “willfully misl[ed] agents of the IRS by making false and misleading statements to those agents and by concealing information sought by those agents who he well knew were attempting to ascertain income, expenses and taxes for [Rankin] and his various business entities and interests.” The indictment contains the elements of the charged offense and does more than merely track the language of the statute. It alleges a nexus between Rankin’s misleading conduct and the agents’ attempts “to ascertain [his] income, expenses and taxes,” an investigation that went beyond the “routine, day-to-day work carried out in the ordinary course by the IRS.” The indictment reflects that the investigation was pending and that Rankin was aware of it. View "United States v. Rankin" on Justia Law

by
Aspen Park, Inc., a nonprofit organization, sought a property tax exemption from Bonneville County, Idaho for its low-income apartments. The County’s Board of Equalization denied an exemption because some of the apartments were leased to tenants with incomes above 60 percent of the county’s median income level, a requirement set forth in Idaho Code section 63-602GG(3)(c). Aspen Park appealed to the Idaho Board of Tax Appeals, arguing that the statute allowed vacant apartments to be leased to higher-income earners. After the Board of Tax Appeals denied tax exempt status, Aspen Park filed a petition for judicial review with the district court. The district court granted Bonneville County summary judgment after deciding that to be eligible for a tax exemption under Idaho Code section 63-602GG, every apartment must be rented to low-income individuals or remain vacant. Aspen Park appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Aspen Park v. Bonneville County" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court denying Exxon Mobil Corporation's (ExxonMobil) petition for interlocutory adjudication and affirming the Department of Revenue's determination that ExxonMobil was entitled to an eighty percent exclusion from income for the dividends it received from several of its domestic subsidiaries, holding that ExxonMobil correctly excluded 100 percent of the actual dividends. On appeal, ExxonMobil argued that the district court erred when it concluded that the dividends at issue were expressly apportionable as income under Mont. Code Ann. 15-31-325 and that, therefore, ExxonMobil was not entitled to a 100 percent income exclusion under Internal Revenue Code (I.R.C.) 243. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that ExxonMobil may deduct the actual dividends it receives from the domestic subsidiaries at issue for purposes of Montana taxation through I.R.C. 243. View "Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Montana Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the grant of an attorney's fee award after taxpayer prevailed in a deficiency proceeding before the United States Tax Court. The tax court granted the award, but denied taxpayer's request for an enhancement to the hourly fee rate. The court held that the tax court did not abuse its discretion by declining to find the presence of a special factor warranting an enhanced fee rate and by reducing the number of hours worked during the post-trial process. Furthermore, the tax court did not abuse its discretion by determining that the requested fee award was unreasonable. View "Tolin v. Commissioner" on Justia Law

by
26 U.S.C. 7623(b)(4) does not contain a "clear statement" that timely filing is a jurisdictional prerequisite to the tax court's hearing the whistleblower's case. In this case, the Irwin presumption has not been rebutted and the filing period in section 7623(b)(4) is subject to equitable tolling. After the IRS denied appellant's application for a whistleblower award, he sought relief from the tax court. The tax court found that his petition was untimely and dismissed it for lack of jurisdiction. Determining that it had jurisdiction, the DC Circuit reversed and remanded for further proceedings because, although the petition was untimely, the filing period was not jurisdictional and was subject to equitable tolling. View "Myers v. Commissioner" on Justia Law

by
In this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding, the Court of Appeals held that Tax Appeals Tribunal of the State of New York (the Tribunal) rationally determined that the information services receipts at issue in this case were not excluded from the sales tax imposed by N.Y. Tax Law 1105(c)(1). Tax law 1105(c)(1) imposes sales tax on certain information services but excludes the furnishing of information that is personal or individual in nature. The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (the Department) conducted an audit of the sales and use tax liability of Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., a regional supermarket chain, and determined that Wegmans's purchases of competitive price audits (CPAs) of its competitors and corresponding reports from RetailData, LLC were taxable receipts under Tax Law 1105(c)(1). Accordingly, the Department imposed additional sales tax. Wegmans petitioned the Division of Tax Appeals, arguing that RetailData's services qualified as an exempt information service that was personal and individual in nature. An ALJ denied the petition. The Tribunal affirmed. The Appellate Division annulled the Tribunal's determination, concluding that the tax exclusion applied. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the information RetailData furnished to Wegmans was not personal or individual in nature. View "In re Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. v. Tax Appeals Tribunal of State of New York" on Justia Law

by
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's order upholding the bankruptcy court's decision to deny an exemption to pension money and certain tax-exempt funds or accounts, including IRAs under Fla. Stat. 222.21. The court held that debtor forfeited his exemption when he engaged in self-dealing transactions prohibited by the IRA's governing instruments. In this case, debtor conceded that he incurred over one hundred thousand dollars in tax penalties for abusing his IRA, but nonetheless sought to shield the IRA from distribution to his creditors. View "Yerian v. Webber" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the United States in a tax refund action. On appeal, taxpayer argued that the penalties were wrongly imposed because it did not actually participate in a listed transaction and thus had nothing to disclose, and that its due process rights were violated because it was not afforded an opportunity for pre-collection judicial review. The court found neither contention meritorious, holding that taxpayer was required to disclose its participation in the transaction at issue because it was similar to the listed transaction identified in Notice 2007-83. The court held that taxpayer could not evade a finding of substantial similarity solely by claiming a deduction on a different basis or by using a different intermediary to complete the transaction. The court also held that taxpayer received all the process it was due where the combination of pre-collection administrative review plus post-collection judicial review satisfied the requirements of the Due Process Clause. View "Interior Glass Systems, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the administrative hearing commission (AHC) reversing the denial of the director of the department of revenue of David and Jill Kehlenbrinks' application for a sales tax refund, holding that the AHC erroneously decided that the Kehlenbrinks were entitled to a refund of all the sales tax they paid after their purchase of a new vehicle. On appeal, the director claimed that, in calculating the sales tax owed on the Kehlenbrinks' newly purchased vehicle, Mo. Rev. Stat. 144.025.1 allowed the Kehlenbrinks to credit the sale proceeds of only one vehicle against the purchase price of the new vehicle. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the AHC erroneously decided that the Kehlenbrinks were entitled to a refund of all the sales tax they paid because it mistakenly allowed credit for four vehicles the Kehlenbrinks sold within 180 days of their purchase of a new vehicle. View "Kehlenbrink v. Director of Revenue" on Justia Law