Articles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court

by
The City of Russellville created the City Corporation to operate, maintain, and improve the city’s municipal waterworks system. The City Corporation managed a water treatment plant that provided potable drinking water to the residents of Russellville. In 1998, Carrothers Construction Company of Arkansas, LLC (Carrothers) constructed an expansion of the water-treatment plant. Carrothers purchased several items of machinery and equipment for the project. Carrothers installed this machinery and equipment for an extensive three-phase water treatment process at the Russellville plant. In 2004, the auditor for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) conducted an audit of Carrothers’s records pertaining to its activities and purchases in 1999 and 2000 in performing its contractual obligations to expand the Russellville water treatment plant. The auditor determined that Carrothers purchased personal property from out-of-state vendors and that these purchases were subjected to Arkansas’s state and local use taxes, plus interest. Carrothers objected to the assessments, resulting in a lawsuit to challenge the tax assessments, and to demand refund of additional use taxes paid. Carrothers filed a motion for summary judgment asserting that there were no genuine issues of material fact and that, as a matter of law, it qualified for a manufacturing exemption. In 2015, the circuit court granted Carrothers’s motion for summary judgment and ruled that Carrothers was entitled to the manufacturing exemption. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded: "Carrothers acquired materials and constructed a facility to treat and clean the water, but it did not manufacture the water. Thus, Carrothers is not entitled to the manufacturing exemption," and therefore not entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. View "Walther v. Carrothers Constr. Co. of Ark." on Justia Law

by
In 2011, 2012, and 2013, the Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas (“University”) submitted applications to the Washington County Tax Assessor seeking immunity from taxation or, alternatively, exemption from taxation for tax years 2010 through 2012. The assessor denied the University’s applications. The Washington County Board of Equalization affirmed. The University paid the assessed taxes under protest and appealed. The county court affirmed. The University appealed and filed a complaint in the circuit court. The Fayetteville School District intervened in the case. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the University, concluding that the University was entitled to sovereign immunity from ad valorem taxation. The school district and the county and its assessor and tax collector appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the University is an instrumentality of the State, and therefore, the property at issue was immune from ad valorem taxation. View "Washington County Bd. of Trs." on Justia Law

by
Several government entities (the class representatives) and all others similarly situated brought a class-action complaint against several online travel companies (OTCs) who marketed hotel rooms in Arkansas and elsewhere via the internet, asserting that the OTCs had failed to collect, or collected and failed to remit, the full amount of gross-receipts taxes imposed by the government entities on hotel accommodations. The circuit court granted the class representatives' motion to certify and certified two classes. The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's order granting class certification, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in (1) certifying the classes where the class representatives and putative class members had no adequate administrative remedies available to exhaust before filing suit; and (2) finding that the predominance requirement for class actions was satisfied. View "Hotels.com LP v. Pine Bluff Advertising & Promotion Comm'n" on Justia Law

by
Pulaski County issued an assessment and taxation of property owned by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). On behalf of UAMS, Appellant (the University) filed a tax-exemption application seeking an exemption from ad valorem property taxes based on sovereign immunity. The county assessor's office and county equalization board denied the request. The county court also denied the exemption. On appeal, the circuit court denied the University's motion for summary judgment and subsequent motion for reconsideration. The Supreme Court dismissed the University's interlocutory appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the University failed to establish an exception to the general rule that the denial of a motion for summary judgment is neither reviewable nor appealable. View "Bd. of Trs. of Univ. of Ark. v. Pulaski County" on Justia Law

by
Appellant requested her medical records from a medical clinic. Pursuant to its contract with Appellant's medical care provider, Healthport, Inc., a private company that fulfills such requests for medical records, obtained and sold Appellant the copies of her requested medical records. Healthport collected sales tax on charges for services rendered in retrieving and copying the medical records. Appellant subsequently filed a class-action complaint against Healthport for violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA), unjust enrichment, and a declaratory judgment that Healthport illegally collected the sales tax. Healthport impleaded the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DF&A) by filing a counterclaim and a third-party complaint seeking declaratory judgment on whether the State's tax statutes require the collection of sales tax on labor and copy charges associated with the production of medical records. The circuit court granted Healthport's and DF&A's motions for summary judgment, finding that sales tax applied to the sale of copies of medical records and that this conclusion rendered Appellant's additional claims moot. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant's appeal without prejudice for lack of a proper Ark. R. Civ. P. 54(b) certificate, as the circuit court's Rule 54(b) certificate failed to comply with Rule 54(b). View "Holbrook v. Healthport, Inc." on Justia Law

by
In 2010, voters in the Fayetteville School District approved a 2.75 new-debt-service mills that would be a continuing debt service tax until the retirement of proposed bonds to be issued for the purpose of erecting and maintaining new and existing school facilities. The surplus revenues produced by debt service millage would be used for other school purposes. In 2011, certificates issued by the Washington County tax collector resulted in 1.45 mills of that 2.75-mill ad valorem increase being applied to the retirement of redevelopment-district bonds issued in 2005. The School District sought declaratory judgment and injunctive relief. The circuit court found that the assessor's certification was incorrect and that the tax collector improperly applied the 1.45 mills. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the present cause of action was not barred by res judicata; (2) Ark. Code Ann. 14-168-301(18)(B)(i) did not impair the bond-purchase contract and financing of the redevelopment bonds; and (3) the 2.75 expressly pledged the new millage to a bond in accordance with section 14-168-301(18)(B)(i). View "City of Fayetteville v. Fayetteville Sch. Dist. No. 1" on Justia Law

by
Appellants in this case were three companies engaged in providing cable-television services to subscribers (collectively, "Charter"). In a consolidated petition for review, Charter challenged the Tax Division of Appellee Arkansas Public Service Commission's ad valorem assessments of its properties for the tax years 2006 through 2009. The Commission upheld the Tax Division's assessments, and the circuit court affirmed. Charter appealed, arguing (1) the assessments were erroneous because they included the valuation of intangible personal property, which it claimed was exempt from taxation, and (2) the assessment of intangible property was illegal because the tax Division failed to promulgate rules that would provide notice of the change to taxpayers. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission did not err by assessing the value of Charter's intangible personal property because the relevant statutes require the assessment of a cable-television company's intangible personal property, and the exemption provision exempting the taxation of intangible personal property did not apply; and (2) the Court was precluded from addressing Charter's second issue on appeal. View "Falcon Cable Media LP v. Ark. Pub. Serv. Comm'n" on Justia Law

by
This appeal stemmed from issues involving the school-funding system and the disbursement of uniform rate of tax (URT) revenues to Arkansas's public-school districts. Appellees, school districts and their taxpayers ("School Districts"), filed a complaint seeking a declaration that any attempt by Appellants, the commissioner of the department of education and the state treasurer ("ADE"), to demand URT revenues in excess of the foundation-funding amount from Appellees was unconstitutional. The circuit court enjoined ADE from (1) seeking repayment of any portion of the URT revenues assessed for purposes of school funding from Appellees, and (2) withholding monies belonging to Appellees for the repayment of the URT revenues required for school funding from state or federal monies owed to the districts. The Supreme Court affirmed on direct appeal and reversed on cross-appeal, holding that the circuit court (1) correctly found that ADE was not authorized by the legislature to recoup and redistribute any URT revenues received from the School Districts that were in excess of the foundation-funding amount; (2) did not err in finding that ADE lacked the authority to withhold monies from the School Districts; and (3) erred in finding that the revenues generated by the URT were state-tax revenues. View "Kimbrell v. McCleskey" on Justia Law

by
A taxpayer class filed an illegal-exaction complaint. The case was remanded for the circuit court to ascertain a remedy consistent with the Supreme Court's decision that the taxpayers had proved a valid claim for illegal exaction of increased ad valorem library taxes for the 2007 ad valorem tax year. In this appeal, the taxpayers contended that the circuit court erred in applying the voluntary-payment rule to class members who paid the tax in question prior to the date the complaint for illegal exaction was filed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal without prejudice, holding that the order appealed was not a final order and did not contain specific factual findings of any danger of hardship or injustice that could be alleviated by an immediate appeal, and therefore, the Court lacked jurisdiction over the appeal. View "Robinson v. Villines" on Justia Law

by
The Carnegie Public Library is located within Carroll County. It and two other libraries within the county are maintained through funds generated by an ad valorem tax. Appellees, the county officials responsible for distribution of the tax proceeds, divided the library tax evenly between the three libraries. Appellants, the Carnegie Library, library board, and two individuals, filed a complaint alleging that, pursuant to section 19 of Act 74 of 1883, the county was required to divide the tax proceeds based on the division of the county into the Eastern and Western Districts, which would result in fifty percent of all tax revenue collected being distributed wholly to the Carnegie Library as the only public library in the Western District. The circuit court dismissed Appellants' complaint, holding (1) section 19 of Act of 1883 was unconstitutional, and (2) the Act did nothing more than create two judicial districts. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that a challenge to the distribution of the tax proceeds should have been raised in county court, and therefore, the circuit court lacked jurisdiction, as did the Supreme Court. View "Carnegie Pub. Library of Eureka Springs v. Carrroll County" on Justia Law