Justia Tax Law Opinion Summaries

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Igboba was convicted on 18 counts under 18 U.S.C. 286, 18 U.S.C. 1343, 18 U.S.C. 287, and 18 U.S.C. 1028A(a)(1), (b), and (c)(5), based on his participation in a conspiracy to defraud the government by preparing and filing false federal income tax returns using others’ identities. He was sentenced to 162 months’ imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, and required to pay restitution, special assessment, and forfeiture sums. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that when the district court increased his base offense level based on the total amount of loss his offense caused, U.S.S.G. 2B1.1(b)(1), it failed to distinguish between the loss caused by his individual conduct and that caused by the entire conspiracy and that the district court erred in applying a two-level sophisticated-means enhancement, section 2B1.1(b)(10). the district court could rightly attribute $4.1 million in losses to “acts and omissions committed, aided, abetted, counseled, commanded, induced, procured, or willfully caused by” Igboba. The court noted his “sophisticated” use of technology and multiple aliases. View "United States v. Igboba" on Justia Law

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In 2009, Bank of America acquired Merrill Lynch. In 2013, Merrill Lynch “merged with and into” Bank of America. In 2017, Bank of America filed a complaint, seeking to recover overpaid interest on federal tax underpayments and additional interest on federal tax overpayments arising under 26 U.S.C. 6601 and 6611. The claimed overpayment interest arose from overpayments made by Merrill Lynch. The government moved to sever the Merrill Lynch overpayment interest claims exceeding $10,000 and requested that the district court transfer them to the Court of Federal Claims or, alternatively, dismiss them for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Magistrate Judge concluded and the district court affirmed that district courts have “subject matter jurisdiction over overpayment interest claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1346(a)(1). The Federal Circuit vacated. The plain language of section 1346(a)(1) dictates that the term “any sum” refers to amounts that have been previously paid to, or collected by, the IRS, which, overpayment interest “[b]y its nature, . . . is not.” The conclusion that section 1346(a)(1) does not cover overpayment interest claims is consistent with the tax code’s broader statutory scheme; the legislative history does not contradict that conclusion. View "Bank of America Corp. v. United States" on Justia Law

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In the November 2018 general election, 61percent of San Francisco voters voted for Proposition C, entitled “Additional Business Taxes to Fund Homeless Services.” San Francisco filed suit to establish that Proposition C has been validly enacted through the voters’ initiative power. The City’s complaint against “All Persons Interested in the Matter of Proposition C” was answered by three defendants: the California Business Properties Association, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, and the California Business Roundtable (the Associations). The Associations allege that Proposition C is invalid because it imposes a special tax approved by less than two-thirds of the voting electorate as required by Propositions 13 and 218. (California Constitution Art. XIII A, section 4 & Art. XIII C, section 2(d).) The trial court granted the City judgment on the pleadings. The court of appeal affirmed, citing two California Supreme Court cases interpreting other language from Proposition 13 and Proposition 218. The supermajority vote requirements that those propositions added to the state constitution coexist with and do not displace the people’s power to enact initiatives by majority vote. Because a majority of San Francisco voters who cast ballots in November 2018 favored Proposition C, the initiative measure was validly enacted. View "City and County of San Francisco v. All Persons Interested in Proposition C" on Justia Law

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The Paula Trust, established for the sole benefit of Medeiros, a California resident, has two cotrustees—a California resident and a Maryland resident. Paula Trust held a limited partnership interest in Syufy, which in 2007 sold stock. Some of the capital gain income from the stock sale was allocated to Paula Trust. Paula Trust’s 2007 tax return reported $2,831,336 of capital gain including the stock sale. The trust paid California income tax of $223,425 and later filed an amended 2007 California fiduciary income tax return, requesting a refund, arguing that the capital gain was incorrectly reported as California-source income. The trustees declared they were “required to apportion the stock gain as California source and non-California-source income . . . according to the number of trustees resident in California” based on Rev. & Tax. Code 17743, which provides: “Where the taxability of income under this chapter depends on the residence of the fiduciary and there are two or more fiduciaries for the trust, the income taxable . . . shall be apportioned according to the number of fiduciaries resident in this state.” The court of appeal reversed a judgment ordering a refund in the amount of $150,655 of tax, plus interest of $68,955.70. The Revenue and Taxation Code imposes taxes on the entire amount of trust income derived from California sources, regardless of the residency of the trust’s fiduciaries. View "Steuer v. Franchise Tax Board" on Justia Law

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A toll increase for seven Bay Area bridges that was submitted to the voters as Regional Measure 3 in 2018, and approved by a 55 percent majority. Revenue from the toll increase is to be applied toward various designated highway and public transit improvement projects and programs. Opponents contend that most of the revenue will not be used for the benefit of those who use the bridges and pay the toll but rather for the benefit of those who use other means of transportation; they argue the toll increase is a tax for which the California Constitution requires a two-thirds majority vote, and therefore is invalid.The court of appeal affirmed judgment on the pleadings, upholding the fee increase. The Legislature, not the Bay Area Toll Authority, imposed the toll increase in Senate Bill 595, which required imposition of a toll increase of up to $3, subject to approval by the voters, and specified in great detail the uses to which the resulting revenue would be put. View "Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association v. Bay Area Toll Authority" on Justia Law

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Technica makes high-end audio equipment and claimed tax credits for increasing research activities under 26 U.S.C. 41 for several tax years. The R&D tax credit is available when taxpayers increase certain research expenses over time, with the increase measured in part against research costs from the five-year period from 1984-1988, taken as a percentage of the company’s gross receipts during those years (the fixed-base percentage). For the 2002–2005 and 2011 tax years, the IRS issued a notice of deficiency. Rather than litigate, Technica and the government reached settlement agreements, which were approved by the Tax Court. The settlements did not address the details but simply listed the dollar amounts of the agreed-upon deficiencies. According to Technica, these amounts were determined by a “specific agreement” as to the fixed-base percentage. With respect to the 2006–2010 tax years, Technica paid the amount requested by the IRS then sued for a refund, arguing that the government was judicially estopped from claiming that the .92% fixed-base percentage did not apply. The district court agreed, finding that because the government had entered into settlements for the other tax years using that same fixed-base percentage, it was judicially estopped from now arguing that the percentage was incorrect. The Sixth Circuit reversed. A court order memorializing a settlement agreement generally does not constitute judicial acceptance of the facts underpinning that agreement, and the orders approved by the Tax Court did not actually include the .92% rate. View "Audio Technica U.S., Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Byers received notice from Chase Bank that IRS Agent Conroy had requested information in connection with the IRS’s investigation into her then-husband. The notice stated that “[t]he requested information includes information that relates to you.” Conroy sent Byers a letter, informing her that she was under investigation for violating 26 U.S.C. 6700 and/or 6701, issued a document request, and requested an interview. Byers refused. Byers received copies of IRS summonses that Conroy had issued, directing her banks to provide, for 2007-2018, “any and all documents … related to . . . Andrea Byers and any other corporation or name Andrea Byers used . . . including but not limited to multiple entities. Bank of America responded to the summons but Conroy has not opened the envelope containing the response due to Byers’s pending petition to quash. The government successfully moved for dismissal of Byers’s petitions and for enforcement of the summonses. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, noting the IRS’s broad authority to collect information related to taxpayers’ potential liabilities. The IRS was not required to establish a “reasonable basis” for its investigation before its summonses could be enforced. The IRS made a prima-facie showing in support of enforcing its summonses. She did not establish that the IRS abused the district court’s process in seeking enforcement of the summonses. View "Byers v. Internal Revenue Service" on Justia Law

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After the tax court determined that petitioners failed to report approximately $41.2 million of compensation income that they realized when certain restricted stockholdings that they owned became substantially vested in January 2004, the tax court upheld the Commissioner's decision to impose accuracy-related penalties for negligence and substantial understatement of tax liability, and denied petitioners' post-trial attempt to offset their underreported income with various net operating loss carrybacks. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the tax court, holding that the tax court did not err in holding that petitioners each realized and were required to report $45.7 million of taxable income when their UMLIC S-Corp. stock substantially vested in taxable year 2004. In this case, even if the Surrender Transactions could somehow be seen as rescinding petitioners' employment and compensation agreements with UMLIC S-Corp., the court agreed with the tax court's conclusion that those transactions were totally devoid of economic substance and must be disregarded for federal income tax purposes. The court also held that the tax court did not err in upholding the accuracy-related penalties imposed by the Commissioner. Finally, the court rejected petitioner's claim that the tax court erred in refusing to consider their net operating losses (NOL) carryback claim during post-trial computation proceedings conducted pursuant to Tax Court Rule 155. View "Estate of Arthur E. Kechijian v. Commissioner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court affirming the determination of the Iowa Department of Revenue that capital gains Taxpayer earned from the sale of farmland she inherited from her father and leased on a cash-rent basis did not qualify for the exclusion from Iowa income tax allowed under Iowa Code 422.7(21)(a), holding that the assessment of additional taxes and related penalties and interest was not irrational, illogical, or wholly unjustifiable. At issue was whether the Department's interpretation of section 422.7(21)(a), as delineated in Iowa Administrative Code rule 701-40.38(1)(c), or the director's application of that rule to the facts was irrational, illogical, or wholly unjustified. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Department acted within its discretion when it promulgated distinct rules for farm leases and other types of real property leases in rule 701-40.38(1)(c); and (2) Taxpayers' attempt to avoid the farm-specific rules is rejected. View "Christensen v. Iowa Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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In 2009, 731 Market leased the ground floor of its commercial building to CVS for a term of 45 years. Once the lease was recorded with the City and County of San Francisco, a “Real Property Transfer Tax” was paid under the San Francisco Business and Tax Regulations Code, based on the value of the stream of rental payments due over the lease’s life. In 2015, 731 Market sold the building, which included the CVS lease. All terms of the original lease remained unchanged with a remaining term of more than 35 years. 731 Market paid a documentary transfer tax, then unsuccessfully sought a refund of the amount of tax it paid based on the value of the remaining stream of payments due over CVS’s lease. The trial court and court of appeal agreed with 731 Market that the 2015 transaction did not trigger the tax as to the leasehold interest because the transaction did not result in any “realty sold” under the ordinance. San Francisco impermissibly collected a “double tax” on the property. View "731 Market Street Owner, LLC v. City and County of San Francisco" on Justia Law