Justia Tax Law Opinion Summaries

by
At issue in this case was the tax status of a 9.9-acre parcel of land containing an 11,500-square-foot garage that was owned and used by Zlotoff Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit charitable organization, for the purpose of storing and maintaining a collection of classic automobiles that it displayed at its nearby museum. The trial court ruled that the garage and the land were tax-exempt because they were used for a public purpose. However, it denied the Foundation’s request for a refund of property taxes paid to the Town of South Hero from 2016 to 2018 because the Foundation did not obtain a certificate of authority allowing it to transact business in Vermont until 2019. The Foundation and the Town both appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed judgment. View "Zlotoff Foundation, Inc. v. Town of South Hero" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Administrative Hearing Commission determining that DI Supply I, LLC's room furnishing sales to the Drury Hotels were not exempt from sales tax under the resale exemption in Mo. Rev. Stat. 144.010.1(11), holding that DI Supply failed to meet its burden to prove that the items it sold to Drury Hotels were resold by the hotels. An audit determined that DI Supply failed to remit sales tax on more than $11 million in taxable sales of room furnishings to Drury Hotels during the audit period. DI Supply contested the tax liability, arguing that the items of tangible personal property were purchased for resale to hotel guests and not subject to Missouri local sales or use tax. The Commission upheld $613,159 of the assessment for sales tax and interest. On appeal, DI Supply contested its sales tax liability for sales of room furnishings to Drury Hotels. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that DI Supply failed to show that Drury Hotels transferred title or ownership of the room furnishings and, therefore, failed to show the applicability of the resale exemption by clear and unequivocal proof. View "DI Supply I, LLC v. Director of Revenue" on Justia Law

by
Employers Resource Management Company (“Employers”) returned to the Idaho Supreme Court in a second appeal against the Idaho Department of Commerce. In 2014, the Idaho Legislature passed the Idaho Reimbursement Incentive Act (“IRIA”). The Economic Advisory Council (“EAC”), a body created under IRIA to approve or deny tax credit applications, granted a $6.5 million tax credit to the web-based Illinois corporation Paylocity, a competitor to Employers Resource Management Company. Employers claimed Paylocity’s tax credit created an unfair economic advantage. Paylocity, however, had yet to receive the tax credit because it did not satisfy the conditions in the Tax Reimbursement Incentive agreement. Having established competitor standing in Employers Res. Mgmt. Co. v. Ronk, 405 P.3d 33 (2017), Employers argued the Idaho Reimbursement Incentive Act was unconstitutional under the separation of powers doctrine. The district court dismissed Employers’s case upon finding the Act constitutional. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Employers Resource Mgmt Co v. Kealy" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs filed suit against the Assessor and others, seeking a refund of property taxes and special assessments, and for declaratory relief. The Court of Appeal found no support in statutory or case law for plaintiffs' claim that a nonprofit charter school should be treated as a public school district for purposes of applying the implied exemption, which plaintiffs contend exempts public schools from having to pay both taxes and special assessments. The court explained that the Legislature has specified precisely how, and to what extent, and under which statutory provisions charter schools are deemed to be part of the system of public schools, or deemed to be a school district. Notably absent is any suggestion that charters schools are to be treated like school districts for taxation purposes. The court rejected plaintiffs' claims to the contrary. View "Los Angeles Leadership Academy, Inc. v. Prang" on Justia Law

by
Holland, a songwriter, sold his song-rights to music companies, in exchange for royalty payments. Holland failed fully to report his income. In 1986-1990, the IRS levied Holland’s royalty assets and recovered $1.5 million. In 1997, the IRS informed him that it intended again to levy those assets. Holland converted his interest in future royalty payments into a lump sum and created a partnership wholly owned by him, to which he transferred title to the royalty assets ($23.3 million). The partnership borrowed $15 million, for which the royalty assets served as collateral. Bankers Trust paid $8.4 million directly to Holland, $5 million in fees, and $1.7 million for Holland’s debts, including his taxes. The IRS did not assess any additional amounts against Holland until 2003. In 2005, the partnership refinanced the 1998 deal, using Royal Bank. In 2012, the IRS concluded that the partnership held the royalty assets as Holland’s alter ego or fraudulent transferee and recorded a $20 million lien against the partnership. In an enforcement suit, the partnership sold the royalty assets. The proceeds ($21 million) went into an interpleader fund, to be distributed to the partnership’s creditors in order of priority. The government’s lien ($20 million), if valid against the partnership, would take priority over Royal Bank’s security interest. The Sixth Circuit affirmed a judgment for Royal Bank. Transactions to monetize future revenue, using a partnership or corporate form, are common and facially legitimate. Holland received adequate consideration in 1998. The IRS’s delay in making additional assessments rather than the 1998 transfer caused the government’s collection difficulties. View "United States v. Holland" on Justia Law

by
Rogers designed and implemented a scheme to generate artificial but tax‐deductible losses for high‐income U.S. taxpayers. The “DAD” scheme worked through a partnership’s acquisition of highly distressed or uncollectible accounts receivable from retailers located in Brazil and subsequent conveyance of interests in the receivables to U.S. taxpayers, who deemed them uncollectible and used the concocted loss to reduce their tax liability. DAD schemes were outlawed in the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004. Rogers then devised a modified transactional structure employing trusts. The Seventh Circuit agreed with the Tax Court that the structural modifications only perpetuated fraudulent tax avoidance and that the Sugarloaf partnership was a sham before and after purported changes. All of Sugarloaf’s income for 2006, 2007, and 2008 should be allocated to an entity wholly owned by Rogers that served as Sugarloaf’s tax matters partner. The court warned that the IRS, Tax Court, and Seventh Circuit “have devoted substantial resources over multiple proceedings to deciphering foreign and domestic transactions, understanding complex tax structures, and separating the fair from the fraud. None of this has gone well for Rogers or his partnership, the Sugarloaf Fund ... caution to those who persist in pressing claims lacking any merit.” View "Sugarloaf Fund, LLC v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue" on Justia Law

by
In this tax dispute, the Supreme Court reversed the final decision of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) entering summary judgment in favor of Graybar Electric Company, Inc., holding that dividends deducted on a corporation's federal corporate income tax return under the dividends-received deduction (DRD) of section 243 of the Internal Revenue Code do constitute "income not taxable" for purposes of calculating the corporation's net economic loss (NEL) deduction under N.C. Gen. Stat. 105-130.8(a) for North Carolina corporate income tax purposes. The Department found that the dividends received constituted "income not taxable" and that, therefore, Graybar was required to reduce its NEL deductions by the amount of the dividends apportioned to North Carolina. On appeal, (OAH) entered summary judgment for Graybar, holding that the dividends were taxable as a matter of law and were not "income not taxable." The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the dividends deducted pursuant too I.R.C. 243(a)(3) were "income not taxable" under section 105-130.8(a)(3); and (2) therefore, Graybar failed to bring itself within the statutory provisions authorizing the NEL deduction calculation it sought. View "North Carolina Department of Revenue v. Graybar Electric Co." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals holding that the federal Foreign-Trade Zones Act's exemption of goods imported from outside the United States and held within a zone for certain purposes from state and local ad valorem taxation did not apply to Petitioner's imported crude oil and refinery products, holding that the exemption did apply in this case. The Act provides for the designation of duty-free areas of operation in or near the United States ports of entry. The court of appeals concluded that the Act's exemption at issue in this case did not apply to Petitioner's products because the zone involved was not activated at the time. Harris County petitioned the appraisal review board for a determination that Petitioner's operations in Subzone 84-N were not tax-exempt. The appraisal board denied relief, and Harris County brought this action for judicial review. The trial court granted summary judgment for Petitioner. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Petitioner's inventory was not entitled to exemption from ad valorem taxation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Subzone 84-R was activated during the tax years at issue, and therefore, the ad valorem tax exemption applied to Petitioner's inventory. View "PRSI Trading, LLC v. Harris County, Texas" on Justia Law

by
HGST bought manufacturing fixtures, machinery, and equipment for $2.4 billion in 2002. The Santa Clara County Assessor annually imposed escape assessments (corrections to assessed value on the local property tax roll) on the property, 2003-2008. HGST challenged the assessor’s findings. The Assessment Appeals Board (AAB) issued findings in 2012 largely adopting the assessor’s findings. HGST filed an unsuccessful claim for a refund of $15 million with the Board of Supervisors. In 2014, HGST filed suit, seeking a refund. The court ruled in favor of the county. The court of appeal affirmed in part, rejecting arguments that the trial court: erred by reviewing the entire case in blanket fashion under a substantial evidence standard rather than examining each individual claim to determine which standard of review should apply; erroneously failed to review certain legal challenges to the valuation methodology applied by the AAB; and erred by upholding the AAB’s decision not to apply the “purchase price presumption” set forth in Revenue and Taxation Code section 110. The court reversed in part. The trial court erred by upholding the imposition of interest on the escape assessments under section 531.4; it made no findings on what portion of the property was reported accurately or to what extent the escape assessments were caused by HGST’s purported failure to report the property accurately. View "HGST, Inc. v. County of Santa Clara" on Justia Law

by
The Mississippi Department of Revenue (MDOR) and the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Mississippi filed suit against Wine Express, Inc., Gold Medal Wine Club, and Bottle Deals, Inc., in Mississippi Chancery Court. In early 2017, the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Division of the Mississippi Department of Revenue and the Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement Division of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office investigated the shipment of wine and other alcoholic beverages into the state. The investigation revealed that most Internet retailers made it “impossible” to place an order for alcoholic beverages once it was disclosed that the shipment would be to a location in Mississippi. This, however, was not so for the Defendants’ websites. In December 2017, the State sued the Defendants for injunctive relief to enforce the provisions of the “Local Option Alcoholic Beverage Control Law.” The State sought injunctive relief, disgorgement, monetary relief, attorneys’ fees, and punitive damages. Defendants moved for dismissal claiming that Mississippi courts lack personal jurisdiction over Defendants. After a hearing on the matter, the trial court granted Defendants’ motion. The State appealed. The Mississippi Supreme Court found that the trial court erred by finding that it lacked personal jurisdiction over the Defendants. View "Fitch v. Wine Express Inc." on Justia Law