Articles Posted in Florida Supreme Court

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For purposes of applying the municipal or public purposes tax exemption contained in Fla. Const. art. VII, section 3(a), a public marina owned and operated by a municipality is a traditional municipal function that carries a presumption of tax-exempt status. The owners of a private marina in Fort Pierce filed a complaint challenging the tax-exempt status of the Fort Pierce City Marina and the Fisherman’s Wharf Marina. Plaintiffs’ amended complaint sought declaratory and injunctive relief on the basis that the property appraiser unconstitutionally granted ad valorem tax exemptions to the two marina properties owned and operated by the City of Fort Pierce and the Fort Pierce Redevelopment Agency (the City). The trial court ruled in favor of Plaintiffs, determining that neither of the City marinas qualified for the constitutional tax exemption. The Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed, concluding that municipal marinas are traditionally considered exempt from taxation. The Supreme Court approved the decision below, holding that Plaintiffs failed to meet their burden to rebut the presumption that the municipally-owned properties that were used exclusively by the City to provide traditional municipal functions were constitutionally exempt from ad valorem taxation. View "Treasure Coast Marina, LC v. City of Fort Pierce" on Justia Law

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The Communications Services Tax (CST) imposed a 6.8 percent tax rate on cable service and a 10.8 percent tax rate on satellite service. DIRECTV, Inc. and Echostar, LLC filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment holding the sales tax provision in the CST unconstitutional, a permanent injunction against enforcement of the provision, and a refund of taxes paid pursuant to the provision. The trial court found that the CST does not violate the Commerce Clause. The First District Court of Appeal reversed, concluding that the CST is invalid because it favors communications that use local infrastructure and therefore has a discriminatory effect on interstate commerce. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the CST is not discriminatory in either its purpose or its effect and therefore does not violate the dormant Commerce Clause. View "Florida Department of Revenue v. DirecTV, Inc." on Justia Law

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Relying on the reputations of Defendants, Plaintiffs, the owners of one of South Florida’s largest general contractors, initiated a custom adjustable rate debt structure (CARDS) transaction. The IRS later issued notices of deficiency disallowing tax deductions based on the CARDS transaction on Plaintiffs’ federal tax returns on the ground that the CARDS transaction lacked economic substance. The tax court upheld the notice of deficiency. Thereafter, Plaintiffs filed a diversity action against Defendants in a federal district court alleging several tax law claims. The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that the statute of limitations on Plaintiffs’ claims had run. Plaintiffs appealed. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit certified a question of state law to the Supreme Court regarding whether Plaintiffs’ claims accrued at the time the IRS issued the notice of deficiency or when Plaintiffs’ underlying dispute with the IRS was concluded or final. The Supreme Court held that Taxpayers’ claims accrued at the time their action in the tax court became final, and that action became final ninety days after the tax court’s judgment, at the expiration of the time period for an appeal of that judgment. View "Kipnis v. Bayerische Hypo-Und Vereinsbank" on Justia Law

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The First District held that Panama Commons’ right to due process was violated by applying the 2013 repeal of the ad valorem tax exemption under section 196.1978, Florida Statutes (2012), to the 2013 tax year. The court reversed and remanded, holding that applying the repeal to Panama Commons for the 2013 tax year does not violate due process. In this case, Panama Commons’ right to the tax exemption under section 196.1978 had not vested before the Legislature repealed the exemption for limited partnerships in 2013. View "Sowell v. Panama Commons L.P." on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from the Department's issuance of a proposed tax assessment on American Business, for taxes and interest on the company’s internet sales transactions. The tax assessment was issued by the Department to American Business pursuant to section 212.05(1)(l) of the Florida Statutes. The court concluded that section 212.05(l) does not violate the dormant Commerce Clause as applied to American Business’s internet sales of flowers, gift baskets, and other tangible personal property where all four prongs of the Complete Auto Transit, Inc. v. Brady test have been satisfied. The court further concluded that no due process violation is present on the facts of this case where American Business’s activities have a substantial nexus to Florida. Accordingly, the court quashed the Fourth District's decision to the extent that it holds that the assessment of sales tax on sales of flowers, gift baskets, and other items of tangible personal property ordered by out-of-state customers for out-of-state delivery violates the dormant Commerce Clause. View "Florida Dept. of Revenue v. American Business USA Corp." on Justia Law

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The Florida Development Finance Corporation (FDFC), a corporate and political entity, filed a complaint in the circuit court of the Second Judicial Circuit in Leon County seeking to determine the validity of a series of bonds proposed to be issued to finance qualifying improvements pursuant to the Property Assessed Clean Energy Act (PACE Act). After a hearing, the circuit court validated the PACE bonds. The Florida Bankers Association (FBA) and Robert Reynolds, a property owner in Leon County, appealed the bond validation. The Supreme court (1) dismissed the appeal brought by FBA, as FBA had no standing to appear in this appeal; and (2) affirmed the circuit court’s amended final judgment validating the FDFC special assessment revenue bonds but remanded with instructions to require FDFC to amend the bond documents as set forth in this opinion. View "Fla. Bankers Ass’n v. Fla. Dev. Fin. Corp." on Justia Law

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This case was before the Supreme Court on a property appraiser's appeal of the court of appeal's decision affirming a circuit court's grant of an ad valorem homestead tax exemption to David and Ana Andonie (the taxpayers) and declaration that a portion of Fla. Stat. 196.031(1) was invalid and unenforceable because the statutory provision limited the class of property owners otherwise eligible for ad valorem tax relief under Fla. Const. art. VII, 6(a). The Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeal to the extent it was consistent with its holding here, holding (1) the plain language of article VII, section 6(a) permits every owner of Florida real property to apply for and receive ad valorem tax relief where it is sufficiently demonstrated that the owner has maintained on that property the permanent residence of another legally or naturally dependent on the owner; and (2) the property appraiser here failed to sufficiently preserve for appellate review any argument regarding the sufficiency of the evidence introduced in the circuit court below, and the record sufficiently demonstrated that the taxpayers maintained on their property the permanent residence of their minor children, each of whom was legally and naturally dependent on the taxpayers. View "Garcia v. Andonie" on Justia Law

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Delta sought review of the First District's reversal of summary judgment voiding a tax deed and quieting title to certain real property in Delta. The court concluded that the First District improperly applied the law-of-the-case doctrine and that the validity of the tax deed in this case should be determined by applying Jones v. Flowers and Vosilla v. Rosado. The court further held that because the Clerk failed to take reasonable, additional steps to provide notice to Delta upon learning that the notice sent by certified mail was not successfully delivered, the tax deed was invalid. Therefore, the court quashed the First District's decision and remanded with instructions that the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Delta be affirmed. View "Delta Property Mgmt., etc. v. Profile Investments, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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The North Port Road and Drainage District (NPRDD), a municipal dependent special district wholly contained within the City of North Port, levied non-ad valorem special assessments against nine parcels of real property owned by West Villages Improvement District, an independent special district of the State of Florida. The Second District held that NPRDD could not lawfully impose the special assessments on West Villages' real property without statutory authority. The court affirmed, but on the basis that NPRDD's home rule power under the Florida Constitution did not reach as far as it argued. Accordingly, because there was no way for West Villages to lawfully pay the special assessments, NPRDD's assessments fell within the limitations on home rule powers set forth in section 166.021(3), Florida Statutes. View "North Port Road And Drainage Dist., etc. v. West Villages Improvement Dist., etc." on Justia Law