Justia Tax Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated in part the summary judgment granted in favor of the Maine Tax Assessor entered in the business and consumer docket ruling that TracFone Wireless, Inc.'s Lifeline service was subject to the State of Maine's prepaid wireless fee and service provider tax, holding that summary judgment was improper as to the prepaid wireless fee.On appeal, TracFone also challenged the trial court's denial of its motion to compel the production of documents related to taxpayers similarly situated to TracFone. The Supreme Judicial Court (1) vacated the summary judgment as to the prepaid wireless fee, holding that the lower court erred in concluding that the Lifeline service was "paid for in advance"; (2) affirmed the summary judgment as to the service provider tax because TracFone sold its Lifeline service under Me. Rev. Stat. 36, 2552; and (3) affirmed the order denying TracFone's motion to compel the production of documents. View "State Tax Assessor v. Tracfone Wireless, Inc." on Justia Law

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In the November 2020 election, Colorado voters approved Proposition 118, which established the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act (“the Act”). This case concerned whether the Division of Family and Medical Leave Insurance's (“the Division”) collection of premiums under the Act violated section (8)(a) of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (“TABOR”), specifically, whether the premium was an unconstitutional “added tax or surcharge” on income that was not “taxed at one rate.” And, if so, the Colorado Supreme Court was asked whether the Act’s funding mechanism was severable from the rest of the Act. The Supreme Court concluded the premium collected by the Division did not implicate section (8)(a) because the relevant provision of that section concerned changes to “income tax law.” The Act, a family and medical leave law, was not an income tax law or a change to such a law. Moreover, the premium collected pursuant to the Act was a fee used to fund specific services, rather than a tax or comparable surcharge collected to defray general government expenses. View "Chronos Builders v. Dept. of Labor" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the Comptroller of Public Accounts of the State of Texas properly taxed an insurer based on premiums it received from sales of "stop-loss" policies under Texas Insurance Code Chapters 222 and 257, holding that the Comptroller properly assessed the taxes at issue.Blue Cross Blue Shield sought a refund of its 2012 premium and maintenance taxes collected from its stop-loss policies, arguing that the policies did not cover risks on "individuals or groups" under Chapter 222. The trial court agreed and ruled for Blue Cross. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the premiums Blue Cross collected on its stop-loss policies were subject to taxation under Chapter 222; and (2) because Blue Cross collected these premiums under its authority to write health insurance, they were subject to Chapter 257's maintenance tax. View "Hegar v. Health Care Service Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the district court dismissing this case claiming that the Traverse Ridge Special Service District needed either to stop charging members The Cove at Little Valley Homeowners Association for services it had never provided or to start plowing snow from private roads in front of homes in the Cove, holding that the district court erred in part.The Service District filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim because the Draper City Code did not require it to service private roads and because the Homeowners Association needed to bring its challenge in a manner dictated by the Utah Tax Code. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the Cove's first cause of action but reversed its dismissal of the second reversed in part, holding that the district court erred when it concluded that the assessment its members paid to the Service District was a tax as a matter of law. View "Cove at Little Valley Homeowners Ass'n v. Traverse Ridge Special Service District" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that a grievance complaint filed with the assessor or board of assessment review at the administrative level by a net lessee who is contractually obligated to pay real estate taxes on the property at issue satisfies N.Y. Real Prop. Law (RPTL) 524(3) such that the net lessee may properly commence an article 7 proceeding upon rejection of its grievance.DCH Auto leased a parcel of property in the Town of Mamaroneck upon which it operated a car dealership. DCH's lease with the owner was a net lease requiring DCH to pay the real estate taxes associated with the property, in addition to the rent. DCH challenged certain tax assessments by filing grievance complaints with the town's board of review. The board denied the challenges, after which DCH petitioned for judicial review. Supreme Court dismissed the petitions on the ground that only an owner may file the initial grievance complaints under RPTL 524(3). The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that DCH was included within the meaning of "the person whose property is assessed" under RPTL 524(3). View "DCH Auto v. Town of Mamaroneck" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court prohibiting a vote tabulation regarding a school board tax recall based upon alleged violations of Ky. Rev. Stat. 132.017 and Ky. Rev. Stat. Chapter 369, holding that there was no error.This case involved a tax increase adopted by the Jefferson County Board of Education (JCBE) in 2020. A recall committee was formed to challenge the excess portion of the tax. A recall petition was subsequently certified. JCBE filed suit, seeking review of the county clerk's certification pursuant to section 132.017(2)(i). The recall committee intervened and counterclaimed for failure to comply with Ky. Rev. Stat. 133.185 and the notice requirements of Ky. Rev. Stat. 160.470(7)(b). The circuit court dismissed the counterclaim and ordered no further action regarding the regular ballot votes for the tax recall. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the public's right to vote on a tax recall is rendered null by the inadequacy of the recall petition occasioned by the alterations and lack of required information. View "Friedmann v. Honorable Bobbie Holsclaw" on Justia Law

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After a judicial foreclosure proceeding for delinquent property taxes, the county generally sells the land at a public auction and pays any proceeds above the delinquency amount to the owner upon demand. Ohio's 2008 land-bank transfer procedure for abandoned property permits counties to bring foreclosure proceedings in the County Board of Revision rather than in court and authorizes counties to transfer the land to landbanks rather than sell it at auctions, “free and clear of all impositions and any other liens.” The state forgives any tax delinquency; it makes no difference whether the tax delinquency exceeds the property’s fair market value. The Board of Revision must provide notice to landowners and the county must run a title search. Owners may transfer a case from the Board to a court. After the Board’s foreclosure decision, owners have 28 days to pay the delinquency and recover their land. They also may file an appeal in a court of general jurisdiction. Owners cannot obtain the excess equity in the property after the land bank receives it.After Tarrify’s vacant property was transferred to a landbank, Tarrify sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming that the transfers constituted takings without just compensation. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the denial of Tarrify’s motion to certify a class of Cuyahoga County landowners who purportedly suffered similar injuries. While the claimants share a common legal theory—that the targeted Ohio law does not permit them to capture equity in their properties after the county transfers them to a land bank—they do not have a cognizable common theory for measuring the value in each property at the time of transfer. View "Tarrify Properties, LLC v. Cuyahoga County" on Justia Law

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Comerica, Inc. sought to redeem certain tax credits over the Michigan Department of Treasury’s objection. The credits were earned under the Single Business Tax Act by a Comerica affiliate. That subsidiary assigned the credits to another subsidiary, a Michigan bank. Later, Comerica created a third subsidiary, a Texas bank, and merged the Michigan bank into the Texas bank. Comerica then claimed the tax credits, on behalf of the Texas bank, in its Michigan tax filings. The Department of Treasury disallowed the tax credits, concluding that the Texas bank did not receive the Michigan bank’s credits through the merger because the Michigan bank lacked the legal authority to transfer the credits. The Michigan Supreme Court held that the tax credits could lawfully pass to the Texas bank. View "Comerica Inc. v. Department Of Treasury" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Andrew Campbell was a lifelong Michigan resident. For many years, petitioner claimed and enjoyed a principal residence exemption (PRE) on his Michigan residence. In late 2016, petitioner purchased a second home in Surprise, Arizona. Respondent Michigan Department of Treasury (Treasury), reviewed and denied petitioner’s PRE claim for his Michigan property for the 2017 tax year. In the ensuing dispute, the issue this case presented for the Michigan Supreme Court's review was whether a property owner was entitled to claim a PRE under Michigan tax law when the owner received a similar tax benefit for a home in another state. To this the Supreme Court concluded that petitioner was not entitled to the PRE. Specifically, under MCL 211.7cc(3)(a), a property owner “is not entitled to [the PRE] in any calendar year in which . . . [t]hat person has claimed a substantially similar exemption, deduction, or credit, regardless of amount, on property in another state.” Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals and reinstated the Department of Treasury’s October 2, 2018 decision and order of determination denying petitioner’s PRE for the 2017 tax year. View "Campbell v. Department Of Treasury" on Justia Law

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Regulus, an LLC solely owned by Klug, is the holding company for all the rights, transactions, and income related to Klug’s literary works, which include several internationally-received legal fiction novels. In 2018, Klug filed a Virginia income tax return, attaching thereto a Schedule C to indicate that he derived business income in Charlottesville. The city could not locate a business license issued to Klug or to Regulus and requested information about Klug’s business and his income therefrom for the tax years 2015-2018. Klug responded that Charlottesville’s Ordinance does not apply to him because he “offer[s] no goods or services to the public[,]” has “no physical storefront or shingle[,]” “do[es] not advertise[,]” has no employees, has no inventory, and offers a “product” that is intangible intellectual property.The Virginia Supreme Court held that a freelance writer’s business does not provide a service and is not covered by the ordinance’s catchall provision. The court did not reach the question of whether the ordinance is unconstitutionally vague as applied to the freelance writer. The court affirmed the circuit court’s decision to order the city to refund Klug his tax payments but concluded that the circuit court erred by awarding costs not essential for the prosecution of the suit. View "City of Charlottesville v. Regulus Books, LLC" on Justia Law