Justia Tax Law Opinion Summaries

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court concluding that income taxpayers did not meet their burden of proof that they abandoned their domicile in Nebraska and acquired a domicile in the United Kingdom (U.K.), holding that competent evidence supported the district court's factual findings.The Department of Revenue issued to Appellants a notice of proposed deficiency determination for individual income tax for tax years 2012 to 2014. Appellants requested a redetermination that no money was due, claiming that the U.K. was their domicile. The Tax Commissioner determined that Appellants failed to sustain their burden of proof. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court's ultimate decision to affirm the Tax Commissioner's order was not in error. View "Houghton v. Nebraska Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

by
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment affirming the IRS's disallowance of a charitable deduction that plaintiffs claimed on their 2011 joint income tax return. After plaintiffs purchased real property, they donated the existing house on the underlying land so that they could build a new one in its place. However, the charity ended up disassembling some of the house, salvaging useful components, and leaving the remainder for demolition by plaintiffs' contractor. Plaintiffs took a charitable deduction of $675,000 on their income tax return, representing the appraised value of the house as if it were moved intact to another lot. The IRS disallowed the deduction under 26 U.S.C. 170(f)(3). Plaintiffs paid the additional taxes assessed by the IRS and filed suit against the United States, seeking a refund of approximately $213,000.The court concluded that defendants donated their entire interest in the house and that they supported their donation with a "qualified appraisal" of the contributed property. In this case, the house was never recorded in the public land records, Plaintiff Linda Mann always retained record ownership of the house. Furthermore, even if the court were to accept that the donation agreement both "constructively severed" the house from the land and conveyed contractual ownership of the house to the charity, Linda still remained the record owner of the house responsible for real-estate taxes. The court also concluded that, even setting aside the consequence of Linda's continuing as the house's record owner, both the donation agreement considered as a whole and the substance of the transaction demonstrate that Linda failed to transfer her entire interest in the house to the charity. The court explained that Linda maintained the benefits and burdens of ownership of the remaining components which she ultimately paid her contractor to demolish. Therefore, she did not donate, as personal property, her entire interest in the house to the charity, making plaintiffs' attempt to claim the value of the entire house as a charitable deduction improper. Finally, the court concluded that the $313,353 appraisal used to claim the deduction was not a qualified appraisal of the contributed property under 26 U.S.C. 170(f)(11)(C). View "Mann v. United States" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the tax court dismissing Relator's appeal of an tax order sent by the Department of Revenue by regular mail, holding that sending a tax order by regular mail provides constitutionally sufficient notice.The Department sent Relator a tax order assessing sales and use taxes covering a three-year period. The order was sent by regular mail, as authorized by Minn. Stat. 270C.33, subd. 8. Relator appealed, asserting that he only became aware of the tax liability when his bank account was levied on by the Commissioner. The tax court granted the Commissioner's motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Relator's notice was constitutionally sufficient. View "Olson v. Commissioner of Revenue" on Justia Law

by
This appeal arose out of a property tax refund action brought by Chinese Theatres against the County. After remanding to the Los Angeles County Assessment Appeals Board to reduce the value of real property owned by Chinese Theatres and to correct the tax roll, the trial court awarded Chinese Theatres attorney fees under Revenue and Taxation Code section 1611.6.The Court of Appeal reversed the postjudgment order awarding Chinese Theatres fees, holding that Chinese Theatres was not entitled to attorney fees under section 1611.6. The court explained that, under a plain reading of section 1611.6, attorney fees are permitted in a tax refund action where: (1) a county board fails to make requested findings; or (2) the court concludes the board's findings are so deficient that it remands the matter with directions for the board to make findings that "fairly disclose [its] determination" on the point at issue, including a "statement of the method or methods of valuation used in appraising the property." In this case, neither of these circumstances exists and thus Chinese Theatres is not entitled to attorney fees under section 1611.6. View "Chinese Theatres, LLC v. County of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

by
In 2013, Phillips purchased Humboldt County property at a public trustee sale for $153.806.41, comprising two 80-acre parcels, two miles from a public road. The terrain is mostly steep and wooded. There is a 1,508-square-foot, three-bedroom manufactured home on a permanent foundation that uses a solar generator system, a spring-fed water system, and a septic system. The property was previously purchased in 2000 for $125,000; in 2001 the modular home was added, costing $85,000. Phillips filed multiple applications challenging the prior owner’s $469,976 assessment.The Assessor reappraised the property at $415,000. Phillips cited Revenue and Taxation Code 110(b): the purchase price of real property is rebuttably presumed to be its “fair market value” “if the terms of the transaction were negotiated at arms-length between a knowledgeable transferor and transferee neither of which could take advantage of exigencies. Phillips argued that the price he paid for the property had to be treated as its taxable value and challenged the Assessor’s comparable sales analysis, The Board determined the value to be $250,000. Phillips filed a tax refund action. On remand, the Board found the 2013 fair market value was $335,000.The court of appeal affirmed that the property was not obtained in an open market transaction, there was substantial evidence to support the Board’s conclusion as to its assessed value of the property, and Phillips’ due process rights were not violated. A foreclosure sale is by nature not an open market transaction supporting the application of the section 110 presumption; even where that presumption applies, it may be rebutted by evidence that the property's fair market value is otherwise. View "Phillis v. County of Humboldt" on Justia Law

by
The Presidio, formerly a military base, is now a National Park, within San Francisco's Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It is an exclusive federal enclave. The 1940 Buck Act (4 U.S.C. 105–110.) authorizes states and local jurisdictions to impose income taxes on activities in federal areas, or on residents of such federal areas, to the same extent and with the same effect as though such land was not a federal area. The 1996 Presidio Trust Act created a wholly-owned government corporation to manage the Presidio, exempt from certain federal laws and regulations. In 2000, section 103(c)(9) was amended to read: “The Trust and all properties administered by the Trust and all interest created under leases, concessions, permits and other agreements associated with the properties shall be exempt from all taxes and special assessments of every kind by" California, and its political subdivisions. Letterman paid the city business registration fees and gross receipts taxes. Letterman later sought refunds totaling $76,880.52, plus interest, arguing that section 103(c)(9) exempts “rents earned by subletting real property leased from the Presidio Trust.”.The court of appeal affirmed the dismissal of the suit. Section 103(c)(9) exempts a lessee of property in the Presidio only from the payment of property taxes; it does not purport to exempt any other party from the payment of an otherwise applicable tax other than a tax on the property itself. View "Letterman Digital Arts Ltd. v. City & County of San Francisco" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court concluding that Plaintiffs had standing to bring this declaratory judgment action challenging ad valorem property taxes that Day County assessed against them and upholding the disputed taxes, holding that the circuit court did not err.Plaintiffs were the Pickerel Lake Outlet Association, a South Dakota domestic non-profit corporation, and forty non-Indian owners of permanent improvements around Pickerel Lake. Plaintiffs claimed that federal law preempted taxation because their structures were on land held in trust for the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate or its members. The State defended the County's authority to levy the taxes, arguing that preemption did not apply and challenging Plaintiffs' standing to sue. The circuit court concluded that Plaintiffs had standing and upheld the County's authority to assess the taxes. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiffs satisfied all the prerequisites for standing; and (2) the County was neither explicitly nor implicitly preempted by the provisions of 25 U.S.C. 5108 from assessing ad valorem taxes against Plaintiffs. View "Pickerel Lake Outlet Ass'n v. Day County" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the administrative hearing commission (AHC) determining that John Gott, who owned and operated a sole proprietorship providing portable toilets to customers, was liable for unpaid sales tax, use tax, and additions to tax and statutory interest as assessed by the director of revenue for the period of April 1, 2012 through March 31, 2017, holding that the AHC decision was authorized by law and supported by competent and substantial evidence on the record.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the AHC did not impermissibly extend the reach of the sales tax law to include AHC's portable toilet service, and therefore, Gott's gross receipts were subject to sales tax; (2) Mo. Rev. Stat. 144.010's plain language is clear and resolved this dispute without the Court having to resort to the "true object" test; and (3) the AHC did not violate Mo. Const. art. X, 26 because Gott was not engaged in a service or transaction not subject to sales, use, or transaction-based taxation. View "Gott v. Director of Revenue" on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit reversed the tax court's grant of appellees' motion for summary judgment in an action where the Commissioner determined that because Judith S. Coffey was not a bona fide resident of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), she and James L. Coffey owed federal income tax for the 2003 and 2004 tax years. The Coffeys invoked the three-year statute of limitations in 26 U.S.C. 6501(a), and the USVI intervened.The court held that the statute of limitations in section 6501(a) begins only when a return is filed. In this case, because the Coffeys did not meticulously comply with requirements to file with the IRS, the court concluded that the statute of limitations never began. The court rejected the Coffeys' and the USVI's contentions that filing returns solely with the Virgin Islands Bureau of Internal Revenue began the three-year statute of limitations in section 6501(a). The court explained that without a filing, the documents are not an honest and genuine attempt to satisfy the tax law and are not filed returns. View "Coffey v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue" on Justia Law

by
After the IRS assessed taxpayer in 2014 for tax deficiencies dating back to 2005, taxpayer contends that the assessment is barred by the Internal Revenue Code's three-year limitations period, which runs from the date "the return" is filed. The district court held that the limitations period never began to run because taxpayer never filed "the return."The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's judgment allowing the tax assessment and held that taxpayer filed "the return" that started the limitations clock when he filed forms containing data sufficient to (1) show that he was liable for the taxes assessed and (2) calculate the extent of his tax liability. In this case, taxpayer's Forms 1040 and 1099 constitute "the return" that begins the running of the Internal Revenue Code's three-year assessment limitations period. Because the IRS assessment came more than three years after taxpayer filed those forms, the court concluded that the assessment is barred by the limitations period. The court remanded to the district court with instructions to remand the case to the bankruptcy court for entry of judgment in accord with the opinion. View "Quezada v. Internal Revenue Service" on Justia Law