Justia Tax Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in favor of Defendants and upholding the legality of assessments of Plaintiffs' properties following a revaluation - which was a mass appraisal - conducted by the Town of Groton as a direct equalization measure in order to ensure that Plaintiffs' neighborhood was not undertaxed relative to others in the municipality, holding that the trial court properly determined that Plaintiffs' assessments were not manifestly excessive. Plaintiffs argued that Defendants violated Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-62 and numerous regulations promulgated by the state Office of Policy and Management when they applied a flat, undifferentiated adjustment factor that increased the assessed value of all properties in Groton Long Point by a certain percentage without individualized consideration of the unique characteristics of each property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendants validly incorporated ratio studies and direct equalization via adjustment factors to neighborhood strata into the revaluation in order to ensure that Groton Long Point bore its fair share of the Town's municipal tax burden relative to the Town's other neighborhoods. View "Tuohy v. Town of Groton" on Justia Law

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At issue was the extent to which Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-256(b)(2) imposes a tax on gross earnings from a satellite television operator’s business operations in Connecticut, including the transmission of video programming, the sale and lease of equipment required to view that programming, the installation and maintenance of such equipment, DVR services, and payment related fees. The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgments of the trial court sustaining in part Plaintiff’s tax appeals and ordering a refund of taxes previously paid on earnings from the sale of certain goods and services, holding (1) the trial court did not err in determining that Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-268i does not provide the exclusive procedure for challenging a tax assessment for a tax period that has been the subject of an audit; (2) section 12-256(b)(2) imposes a tax on gross earnings from the transmission of video programming by satellite and certain payment related fees, but not the sale, lease, installation, or maintenance of equipment or DVR service; and (3) the trial court did not err in determining that Plaintiff was not entitled to interest on the refund pursuant to section 12-268c. View "Dish Network, LLC v. Commissioner of Revenue Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court determining that Plaintiff, Walgreen Eastern Company, Inc., had established aggrievement under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-117a by showing that the valuation of Plaintiff’s property by Defendant, the Town of West Hartford, was excessive. The Court further affirmed the trial court’s judgment determining the true and actual value of the subject property and concluding that the Town’s valuation of the subject property was not manifestly excessive under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-119. After the Board of Assessment Appeals (Board) upheld the town assessor’s valuation, Plaintiff appealed to the superior court, which (1) found Plaintiff satisfied its burden of proving aggrievement; and (2) rendered judgment in favor of Plaintiff on its section 12-117a count and in favor of the Town on Plaintiff’s section 12-119 count. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the relief awarded by the trial court was sufficient because the court properly determined the true and actual value of Plaintiff’s property; and (2) the trial court properly determined that Plaintiff did not meet its burden to establish a claim under section 12-119. View "Walgreen Eastern Co. v. Town of West Hartford" on Justia Law

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The Connecticut Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's decision to uphold the Commissioner's determination denying plaintiffs' request for a refund of estate taxes paid by the estate of the decedent. The court held that the trial court properly rendered summary judgment in favor of the Commissioner because defendant properly included the value of the assets contained within the qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) marital deduction trusts in the decedent's gross estate and levied the estate tax thereupon in accordance with General Statutes 12-391 without violating due process. View "Estate of Brooks v. Commissioner of Revenue Services" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs requested from the Commissioner of Revenue Services a tax refund for the taxable years 2002, 2006, and 2007. The Commissioner denied the request. The trial court upheld the decision of the Commissioner. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the trial court’s award of summary judgment with respect to the taxable year 2002, holding that the form of the trial court’s judgment with respect to that claim was improper; but (2) affirmed the judgment of the trial court in all other respects, holding that the remainder of Plaintiffs’ contentions regarding the judgment were unavailing. View "Allen v. Commissioner of Revenue Services" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, the owner of a parcel of land in the Town of Colchester, challenged the Town’s assessment of the property for the tax year 2011. The Colchester Board of Assessment Appeals upheld the Town’s original valuation. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the Town had used an improper method for valuing the property. The trial court upheld the Town’s original assessment, determining that Plaintiff had not established that it was aggrieved by the Town’s valuation because it found that Plaintiff’s expert was not credible. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the trial court applied the incorrect legal standard of valuation to the subject property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court’s determination that Plaintiff failed to establish aggrievement was not clearly erroneous, and the trial court properly rejected Plaintiff’s appeal. View "Nutmeg Housing Development Corp. v. Colchester" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a partnership and an LLC, were related entities with common owners. The partnership acquired a commercial office complex and later transferred ownership of the property to the LLC. In 2008, the City of Norwalk’s tax assessor set the fair market value of the partnership at approximately $49 million. The trial court sustained Plaintiffs’ property tax appeal and reduced the valuation of the LLC’s property by approximately $15 million. The Appellate Court reversed, concluding that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ appeal because the LLC had not appeared in administrative proceedings before the City’s Board of Assessment Appeals and did not initiate the appeal to the trial court. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that although the tax appeal was initially brought by a nonaggrieved party, the partnership, the appeal was also maintained by the LLC, an aggrieved party that had properly been added to the trial court proceedings by way of a promptly filed amended complaint. View "Fairfield Merrittview Ltd. P’ship v. City of Norwalk" on Justia Law

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In 2009, Wheelabrator Bridgeport, L.P., which operates a waste to energy facility in the city of Bridgeport, appealed from the tax assessment of the City, alleging that the city had overvalued the property on the city’s 2007 and 2008 grand lists. In 2011, Wheelabrator and other plaintiffs filed a second appeal from the city’s tax assessment, alleging that the city had overvalued the property on the 2010 grand list. The two appeals were consolidated for purposes of trial. The trial court dismissed the first appeal for lack of standing and then rendered partial judgment in favor of Wheelabrator in the second appeal. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court improperly dismissed the first appeal; and (2) the trial court improperly valued the property in the second appeal and failed to consider evidence of the city’s wrongful conduct in the second appeal. Remanded for further proceedings in the first appeal and a new trial in the second appeal. View "Wheelabrator Bridgeport, L.P. v. Bridgeport" on Justia Law

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This case concerned the valuation of property owned by Plaintiff on which Plaintiff built a continuing care retirement community. In 2007, the assessor determined that Plaintiff's property had a fair market value of $117,621,000 and an assessment value of $82,334,600. Plaintiff challenged the valuation. The board of assessment appeals upheld the assessor's valuation. Plaintiff appealed, alleging it was aggrieved by the actions of the board because the assessor's valuation of the property exceeded seventy percent of its true and actual value on the assessment date. The trial court denied the appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court's determination that Plaintiff failed to establish aggrievement under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-117a was not clearly erroneous; and (2) the trial court properly determined that Plaintiff failed to meet its burden of proving the town's assessment of the property was manifestly excessive under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-119. View "Redding Life Care, LLC v. Town of Redding" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Scholastic Book Clubs, Inc. sells its products to Connecticut schoolchildren by having schoolteachers submit to Plaintiff book orders the teachers have collected from students. The books are delivered to the teachers, who then distribute the books to the students. In 2006, the commissioner of revenue services imposed a sales and use tax deficiency assessment on Plaintiff for more than $3 million. Plaintiff protested the assessments. The commissioner upheld the assessments, reasoning that Plaintiff had sold its products using "in-state representatives" pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-407(a)(15)(A). The trial court reversed. The Supreme Court reversed the trial court, holding (1) the trial court incorrectly determined that the teachers were not Plaintiff's "representatives" within the meaning of section 12-407(A)(15)(a)(iv), as the teachers serve as the exclusive channel through which Plaintiff markets, sells and delivers its products to Connecticut schoolchildren; and (2) the trial court incorrectly determined that the taxes could not be imposed under the commerce clause, as the activities of the Connecticut schoolteachers who participate in Plaintiff's program provide the requisite nexus under the commerce clause to justify imposition of the taxes. View "Scholastic Book Clubs, Inc. v. Comm'r of Revenue Servs." on Justia Law