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Plaintiff appealed the district court's judgment in favor of the Government in his tax refund action. Plaintiff argued that the net income for the subchapter S corporation, of which he was the sole shareholder, was substantially overstated on the corporation's tax return by the bankruptcy trustee who filed the return, resulting in personal income tax payments by plaintiff that were substantially more than he actually owed. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment and held that the filings by plaintiff satisfied the requirement for a "statement identifying the inconsistency" pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 6037(c)(2)(A)(ii). In this case, the filings sufficiently identified the inconsistencies between plaintiff's tax returns and those of the S corporation. The panel affirmed as to plaintiff's abandoned appeal of his refund claim for tax year 2001 and remanded for further proceedings. View "Rubin v. United States" on Justia Law

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Midland sent six letters to the Schultzes, attempting to collect separate outstanding debts that had been outsourced to Midland for collection after default. None of the debts exceeded $600. Each letter offered to settle for less than the full amount owing and each stated: We will report forgiveness of debt as required by IRS regulations. Reporting is not required every time a debt is canceled or settled, and might not be required in your case.” Since the Treasury only requires an entity to report a discharge of indebtedness of $600 or more to the IRS, the Schultzes claimed that the statement was “false, deceptive and misleading” in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692. Their putative class action complaint was dismissed. The Third Circuit reversed, finding that the statement may violate the FDCPA. A dunning letter is false and misleading if it implies that certain outcomes might befall a delinquent debtor, when legally, those outcomes cannot occur. Even if the least sophisticated debtor can distinguish between “may” and “must,” the language at issue references an event that would never occur. It is reasonable to assume that a debtor would be influenced by potential IRS reporting and that, if that reporting cannot occur, it could signal a potential FDCPA violation regardless of the conditional language. View "Schultz v. Midland Credit Management, Inc." on Justia Law

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Under United States v. Boyle, 469 U.S. 241 (1985), an agent's failure to fulfill his duty to his principal to file tax returns and make payments on behalf of the principal does not constitute reasonable cause for the principal's failure to comply with its tax obligations unless that failure actually rendered the principal disabled with regard to its tax obligations. Disability is a high bar that is not satisfied if the errant agent is subject to the control of his principal, whether that principal sufficiently exercised that control or not. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal with prejudice of Deaton's suit seeking refund, abatement, and recovery of delinquent tax penalties assessed against it. The court held that the facts set forth in the complaint did not support a finding of reasonable cause. In this case, the facts, whether considered singularly or together, did not excuse Deaton's tax law compliance failures. View "Deaton Oil Co., LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Diamond law firm filed a qui tam action against My Pillow, under the Illinois False Claims Act, 740 ILCS 175/1, asserting that My Pillow had failed to collect and remit taxes due under the Retailers’ Occupation Tax Act (ROT) and the Use Tax Act (UTA), and had knowingly made false statements, kept false records and avoided obligations under the statutes. The cause was brought in the name of the state but the state elected not to proceed, yielding the litigation to Diamond. At trial, Diamond, who had made the purchases at issue, served as lead trial counsel and testified as a witness. While an outside law firm also appeared as counsel of record for Diamond, its involvement was extremely small. Diamond essentially represented itself. The court ruled in favor of My Pillow on Diamond’s ROT claims, but in favor of Diamond on Diamond’s UTA claims; ordered My Pillow to pay $782,667; and recognized that the litigation had resulted in My Pillow paying an additional $106,970 in use taxes. A private party bringing a successful claim under the Act is entitled to receive 25%-30% of the proceeds. The court held that My Pillow should pay $266,891, to Diamond; found that Diamond was entitled to reasonable attorney fees, costs, and expenses, and awarded Diamond $600,960. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the damage award but held that Diamond could not recover attorney fees for work performed by the firm’s own lawyers. To the extent that Diamond prosecuted its own claim using its own lawyers, the law firm was proceeding pro se. View "Schad, Diamond and Shedden, P.C. v. My Pillow, Inc." on Justia Law

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Section 15-86 of the Property Tax Code (35 ILCS 200/15-86 ) provides a charitable property tax exemption specifically for eligible not-for-profit hospitals and their hospital affiliates. In a suit alleging that the section, on its face, violated section 6 of article IX of the Illinois Constitution, which requires that the subject property be “used exclusively for … charitable purposes,” the circuit court granted the defendants summary judgment. The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, based on legislative intent. Section 15-86 does not dispense with the Illinois Constitution’s requirements for charitable property tax exemption but, rather, the Department of Revenue must still evaluate a hospital applicant’s claim for a section 15-86 exemption under constitutional requirements and precedent. The plaintiff also failed to show that section 15-86 was inherently flawed in all circumstances. View "Oswald v. Hamer" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Harley-Davidson, Inc. and its subsidiaries (Harley-Davidson) formed a multistate enterprise with numerous functionally integrated subsidiary corporations. It contended that defendant California Franchise Tax Board's (Board) tax scheme violated the commerce clause of the federal Constitution, arguing it burdened interstate enterprises by providing a benefit to intrastate enterprises not available to interstate enterprises. The trial court granted summary judgment for the Board, finding that whether or not the state's tax law unduly burdened interstate commerce, the state had a legitimate reason for treating in-state and out-of-state unitary businesses differently that could not be served by reasonable nondiscriminatory alternatives - to accurately measure, apportion and tax all revenue acquired in California by an interstate unitary business. After independent review, the Court of Appeal also found there was a legitimate state interest to require combined reporting of taxable income of interstate unitary businesses, to accurately measure and tax all income attributable to California, that outweighed any possible discriminatory effect. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the trial court. View "Harley-Davidson, Inc. v. Franchise Tax Bd." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff The Marist Brothers of New Hampshire (MBNH) appealed several superior court orders: (1) a decision upholding the denial by defendant Town of Effingham (Town), of MBNH’s request for a charitable tax exemption, for tax year 2015, for real property; and (2) an order granting the Town’s motion in limine to exclude evidence of the tax treatment of New Hampshire youth camps other than the camp run by MBNH. When Camp Marist was not in session, MBNH rented the Property subject to this appeal: no restrictions were placed on who is eligible to rent, or how renters use, the Property. Rental proceeds were allocated to either the “regular Camp fund, the running of the Camp, or . . . to some of [MBNH’s] scholarships.” MBNH argues that the trial court erred in determining that it met none of the "ElderTrust" factors. After careful consideration, the New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded MBNH did satisfy all ElderTrust factors, reversing the trial court. View "The Marist Brothers of New Hampshire v. Town of Effingham" on Justia Law

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California Attorney General's Form 990 Schedule B requirement, which obligates charities to submit the very information they already file each year with the IRS, survived exacting scrutiny as applied to plaintiffs because it was substantially related to an important state interest in policing charitable fraud. The Ninth Circuit held that, even assuming arguendo that plaintiffs' contributors would face substantial harassment if Schedule B information became public, the strength of the state's interest in collecting Schedule B information reflected the actual burden on First Amendment rights because the information was collected solely for nonpublic use, and the risk of inadvertent public disclosure was slight. Accordingly, the panel vacated the district court's permanent injunctions, reversed the bench trial judgments, and remanded for entry of judgment in favor of the California Attorney General. View "Americans for Prosperity v. Becerra" on Justia Law

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On January 21, 2014, House Bill 331 (H.B. 331) was introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives "to authorize the [Chilton] county commission to levy an additional one cent sales tax which shall be used exclusively for the construction, maintenance, and operation of a hospital in Chilton County; to provide for an expiration date for the tax; and to provide for a referendum and subsequent referendums." H.B. 331 was approved by both the Alabama House and Senate. The Governor signed the bill into law, designated as Act 2014-162. Notices had been placed in a county newspaper containing the full text of a second bill, introduced as Senate Bill 462 (S.B. 462), "to levy additional sales and use taxes to be used for the construction, maintenance, and operation of hospital facilities in Chilton County; to provide for certain matters relating to the administration, collection, and enforcement of such taxes; to provide for the effective date and termination of such taxes; to provide for an advisory referendum regarding the levy of the taxes; to provide that such taxes may not be abated pursuant to Chapter 9B, Title 40, Code of Alabama 1975, or otherwise; and to authorize the pledge of such taxes by Chilton County or a public corporation acting as its agent to secure indebtedness issued for the purposes for which the taxes are authorized." S.B. 462 was approved by both the House and Senate, and again forwarded to the Governor, who declined to sign it so that it be amended so that it repealed the earlier bill as a duplicative Act. The Legislature approved an amended version of S.B. 462, and the amended bill was signed into law as Act 2014-422. No notice of 2014-422 was ever published to Chilton County. An advisory referendum was held in Chilton County pursuant to Act No. 2014-422, and voters approved the tax. Roy Burnett filed a complaint on behalf of himself and others who paid the tax pursuant to 2014-422, arguing the act was unconstitutional because the bill was designed to raise revenue and did not originate in the House,and was not published after it was amended and signed into law. The Alabama Supreme Court determined 2014-422 was not unconstitutional because it was designed to "raise revenue" as that phrase was contemplated by section 70 of the Alabama Constitution. However, the Court found the Act violated section 107 of the Constitution because no published notice of the Act informed the people of Chilton County it was repealing Act 2014-162. Judgment was reversed that the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Burnett v. Chilton County Health Care Authority and Chilton County" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether a notice to remove an assigned tax court judge was timely and, if so, whether the assigned judge erred in finding that it was impracticable to honor the notice. OCC, LLC, a property owner in Hennepin County, petitioned for a writ of mandamus that directed the tax court to vacate an order that quashed OCC’s notice to remove the assigned tax court judge and to honor the notice. The tax court declined specifically to decide whether the notice was timely and, instead, concluded that it was not “practicable” to honor the removal notice. The Supreme Court granted OCC’s petition for mandamus, directed the tax court to vacate its order quashing the notice to remove, and directed the tax court to honor that notice by assigning OCC’s consolidated tax proceedings to a different judge, holding (1) OCC’s notice to remove was timely under Minn. R. Civ. P. 63.03; and (2) the record did not establish that honoring the timely notice to remove was impracticable in this case. View "OCC, LLC v. County of Hennepin" on Justia Law