Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court

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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

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Plaintiff HVC Inc. was a trustee of the Honda Lease Trust. During the audit period at issue, several car dealerships entered into thousands of leases with customers (lessees) pursuant to lease plan agreements between the dealerships, the trust, and the servicer of the trust. Under the leases, the lessees were responsible for submitting the vehicle registration renewal application and renewal fees to the department of motor vehicles on behalf of the trust. Upon receipt of the renewal application and fee, the department sent the vehicle registration card to the trust, and the trust forwarded the vehicle registration card to the appropriate lessee. After conducting a sales and use tax audit for the audit period from April 1, 2001 through October 31, 2004, Defendant Pamela Law, the then commissioner of revenue services, issued a deficiency assessment against Plaintiff, concluding that the renewal fees constituted taxable gross receipts of the trust and, therefore, were subject to the sales tax. The trial court rendered summary judgment partially in favor of Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the renewal fees paid by the lessess qualified as Plaintiff's gross receipts subject to sales tax under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-408(1).

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For several years, Plaintiff Housatonic Railroad Company purchased diesel fuel from a petroleum distributor that was used exclusively by Plaintiff as part of its interstate freight rail business. The distributor remitted the petroleum tax to Defendant, the commissioner of revenue services. The distributor separately billed Plaintiff for the amount of tax it paid to the department of revenue services, and Plaintiff paid that amount directly to the distributor. Plaintiff then submitted requests to the department for a refund of the money paid for the petroleum tax by the distributor to the department. The commissioner denied Plaintiff's request. Plaintiff appealed. The trial court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss, concluding that the state was immune from suit because Plaintiff could not establish an exception to sovereign immunity under any of three separate statutory provisions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that none of the statutory provisions on which Plaintiff relied permits a rail carrier to bring an action against the state for a refund of taxes paid by a petroleum distributor.

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The present matter arose from three related tax appeals involving Plaintiff Goodspeed Airport's property that consisted of a commercial utility airport and forty-three acres of open fields. The superior court denied relief on Plaintiff's claim seeking reclassification and assessment of certain of its real property as open space and disposed of all three appeals. The appellate court concluded that (1) 13.08 acres of Plaintiff's property were ineligible for open space classification; and (2) Plaintiff, notwithstanding the ongoing improper classification of its property by Defendant, the town of East Haddam, was not entitled to judicial relief from the improper assessment of its forty-three acres. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the appellate court improperly concluded that the trial court properly determined that the 13.08 acres were ineligible for open space classification and that Plaintiff was not aggrieved pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-117a on the basis of Defendant's ongoing overassessment of the forty-three acres. Remanded.