Justia Tax Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil
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Employers Resource Management Company (“Employers”) returned to the Idaho Supreme Court in a second appeal against the Idaho Department of Commerce. In 2014, the Idaho Legislature passed the Idaho Reimbursement Incentive Act (“IRIA”). The Economic Advisory Council (“EAC”), a body created under IRIA to approve or deny tax credit applications, granted a $6.5 million tax credit to the web-based Illinois corporation Paylocity, a competitor to Employers Resource Management Company. Employers claimed Paylocity’s tax credit created an unfair economic advantage. Paylocity, however, had yet to receive the tax credit because it did not satisfy the conditions in the Tax Reimbursement Incentive agreement. Having established competitor standing in Employers Res. Mgmt. Co. v. Ronk, 405 P.3d 33 (2017), Employers argued the Idaho Reimbursement Incentive Act was unconstitutional under the separation of powers doctrine. The district court dismissed Employers’s case upon finding the Act constitutional. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Employers Resource Mgmt Co v. Kealy" on Justia Law

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SSI Food Services Inc. (SSI) appealed the district court’s decision rejecting the Board of Tax Appeal’s (BTA) 2016 assessed value of SSI’s food processing facility in favor of the Canyon County Assessor’s (Canyon County) significantly higher valuation. On appeal, SSI argued the district court erred when it modified the BTA’s valuation because: (1) Canyon County did not meet its burden of proving that the BTA’s valuation was erroneous; (2) the modified valuation was not supported by substantial and competent evidence; and (3) the conclusions of law contained in the district court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law are inadequate. SSI also appealed the district court’s decision to allow Canyon County’s expert to testify on rebuttal. Canyon County cross-appealed the district court’s decision that SSI was not obligated to pay penalties and interest on the unpaid amount of property taxes. Finding no reversible error or abuse of discretion, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Stender v. SSI Food Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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Aspen Park, Inc., a nonprofit organization, sought a property tax exemption from Bonneville County, Idaho for its low-income apartments. The County’s Board of Equalization denied an exemption because some of the apartments were leased to tenants with incomes above 60 percent of the county’s median income level, a requirement set forth in Idaho Code section 63-602GG(3)(c). Aspen Park appealed to the Idaho Board of Tax Appeals, arguing that the statute allowed vacant apartments to be leased to higher-income earners. After the Board of Tax Appeals denied tax exempt status, Aspen Park filed a petition for judicial review with the district court. The district court granted Bonneville County summary judgment after deciding that to be eligible for a tax exemption under Idaho Code section 63-602GG, every apartment must be rented to low-income individuals or remain vacant. Aspen Park appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Aspen Park v. Bonneville County" on Justia Law

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This case was brought by the North Idaho Building Contractors Association, Termac Construction, Inc., and other class members (collectively, “NIBCA”), to declare a sewer connection/capitalization fee the City of Hayden enacted in 2007 to be an impermissible tax. The action was originally dismissed on the City’s motion for summary judgment; but, on appeal the Idaho Supreme Court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings because the record did not contain sufficient evidence to establish that the 2007 Cap Fee complied with controlling Idaho statutes and case law. On remand, the parties filed cross motions for summary judgment and the district court found that the 2007 Cap Fee was an impermissible tax and taking of property without just compensation in violation of federal takings law. In doing so, the district court refused to consider expert evidence propounded by the City which opined that the 2007 Cap Fee complied with the applicable Idaho legal standards and was reasonable. The district court subsequently ruled on stipulated facts that NIBCA was entitled to damages in the amount paid above $774 per connection, together with interest, costs, and attorney fees. The City appealed the district court’s refusal to consider its evidence and NIBCA cross-appealed the award of damages. The Idaho Supreme Court again vacated the judgment because the district court improperly refused to consider the City’s evidence on remand. View "No ID Bldg Cont Assoc v. City of Hayden" on Justia Law

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The J.R. Simplot Foundation appealed a district court’s ruling that the charitable property tax exemption under Idaho Code section 63-602C did not apply to the property known as Jack’s Urban Meeting Place (JUMP) while JUMP was under construction. In 2015, the Foundation applied for a charitable property tax exemption for JUMP. The Ada County Board of Equalization (Ada County) denied the tax exemption because JUMP was under construction and therefore not used exclusively for the Foundation’s charitable purposes. The Idaho Board of Tax Appeals (IBTA) reversed, finding construction was not a “use” of the property and the only uses at JUMP were in furtherance of the Foundation’s charitable objectives. Accordingly, the IBTA held JUMP was entitled to the property tax exemption. Ada County appealed the decision of the IBTA to the district court. The district court, ruling on cross motions for summary judgment, reversed the decision of the IBTA finding construction was a “use” of the property and that construction is not a charitable use. The Foundation appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Ada Co Bd of Equalization v. J.R. Simplot" on Justia Law

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Linda Dunn appealed a district court’s judgment affirming the Idaho State Tax Commission’s deficiency determination. The Commission issued a deficiency against Linda after determining that her one-half community interest in her husband’s, Barry Dunn (“Husband”), out-of-state earnings should have been included as Idaho taxable income for 2000–01, 2003–05, and 2007–10 (the “Taxable Years”). Linda was married to Husband during the Taxable Years. During the Taxable Years, Husband lived primarily in Texas, employed by a Texas offshore drilling company. All of the earnings at issue were earned by Husband personally as a wage earner in Texas, Alaska, or Washington and were directly deposited into his bank account in Tomball, Texas. Husband never worked or was domiciled in Idaho during the Taxable Years. Throughout the Taxable Years, Linda temporarily lived with Husband at his work location, but always returned to Idaho to operate a horse farm. She was a resident of Idaho for all of the Taxable Years. Linda and Husband’s tax filing status was “married filing jointly.” Linda relied on Texas law for her argument that her interest in Husband’s earnings were immune from Idaho income tax. The Commission maintained Linda, as an Idaho resident, was taxed on all income she received during the Taxable Years while domiciled in Idaho, even if that income was derived from Texas. Finding no reversible error in the district court’s affirmance of the Commission’s decision, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Dunn v. Idaho Tax Commission" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was a judgment dismissing an action seeking to recover money unlawfully collected by the City of Pocatello from users of the City’s water and sewer systems. In 2005, the city government decided that the City should be able to operate its water and sewer systems at a profit like private utilities. By law, the City was required to charge and collect sufficient fees so that its water and sewer systems “shall be and always remain self-supporting.” Those fees had to be sufficient to pay when due all bonds and interest as required by Idaho Code section 50-1032(a) and “to provide for all expenses of operation and maintenance of such works . . . , including reserves therefor,” as required by Idaho Code section 50-1032(b). The City wanted to obtain a profit in excess of the amounts necessary for the water and sewer systems to remain self-supporting. This profit was paid into the general fund. The City instituted a program called "PILOT," which stood for payment in lieu of taxes, under which city-owned water and sewer departments paid "property taxes" to the City as if they were private entities, and the departments then passed this cost on to their customers. The “property taxes” were then paid into the City’s general fund. Plaintiffs sought a refund of the PILOT sums that they had paid. In granting summary judgment, the district court held that the imposition of the PILOT was not a compensable taking. The district court appeared to rely upon two grounds for that decision: (1) "Some courts have made that determination on the grounds that money is not 'property' within the meaning of the Takings Clause," and (2) "Other courts ‘have concluded that governmental-imposed obligations to pay money are not the sort of governmental actions subject to a takings analysis.?” The Idaho Supreme Court determined both of these rationales were incorrect, reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hill-Vu Mobile Home Pk v. City of Pocatello" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was a judgment dismissing an action seeking to recover money unlawfully collected by the City of Pocatello from users of the City’s water and sewer systems. In 2005, the city government decided that the City should be able to operate its water and sewer systems at a profit like private utilities. By law, the City was required to charge and collect sufficient fees so that its water and sewer systems “shall be and always remain self-supporting.” Those fees had to be sufficient to pay when due all bonds and interest as required by Idaho Code section 50-1032(a) and “to provide for all expenses of operation and maintenance of such works . . . , including reserves therefor,” as required by Idaho Code section 50-1032(b). The City wanted to obtain a profit in excess of the amounts necessary for the water and sewer systems to remain self-supporting. This profit was paid into the general fund. The City instituted a program called "PILOT," which stood for payment in lieu of taxes, under which city-owned water and sewer departments paid "property taxes" to the City as if they were private entities, and the departments then passed this cost on to their customers. The “property taxes” were then paid into the City’s general fund. Plaintiffs sought a refund of the PILOT sums that they had paid. In granting summary judgment, the district court held that the imposition of the PILOT was not a compensable taking. The district court appeared to rely upon two grounds for that decision: (1) "Some courts have made that determination on the grounds that money is not 'property' within the meaning of the Takings Clause," and (2) "Other courts ‘have concluded that governmental-imposed obligations to pay money are not the sort of governmental actions subject to a takings analysis.?” The Idaho Supreme Court determined both of these rationales were incorrect, reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hill-Vu Mobile Home Pk v. City of Pocatello" on Justia Law

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This appeal presents a narrow question of law relating to state income tax liability. Zippora Stahl was an Idaho resident who died in 2010. At the time of her death, Stahl owned real property located in Chino, California that had substantially appreciated in value. The Estate made a "1022 Election" following the sale of the Chino property in its 2012 federal income tax return. The Estate also filed an Idaho income tax return for 2012. When it did so, the Estate initially used the same modified carryover basis for the Chino property as it had for its federal income tax return. The Estate computed its state tax liability as $1,029,107, which the Estate paid. The Idaho State Tax Commission processed the Estate’s 2012 Idaho income tax return and determined that the Estate had incorrectly computed a credit for taxes paid to other states. Kathleen Krucker, personal representative of the Estate, appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the Commission and the district court’s denial of the Estate’s motion for reconsideration. The district court held that the Estate could not use a different figure as the starting point for calculating its Idaho taxable income for 2012 than it reported to the Internal Revenue Service for that year. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Krucker v. Idaho State Tax Commission" on Justia Law

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Chandler’s-Boise, LLC (“Chandlers”), challenges a district court’s grant of summary judgment upholding the Idaho State Tax Commission’s (the “Commission”) deficiency determination. Chandlers owned and operated a restaurant in downtown Boise, Idaho. The Commission, through its Sales, Use, and Miscellaneous Tax Audit Bureau (the “Bureau”), conducted a comprehensive sales audit of Chandlers for the period of May 1, 2007, through May 31, 2010 (the “Audit Period”), to determine sales tax law compliance. After its audit, the Bureau found errors in sales, fixed asset additions, ordinary purchases, and meals given to employees and guests. The only error relevant to this appeal was Chandlers’ failure to pay sales tax on automatically added gratuities that were added to banquet meals, room service meals, and restaurant dining services for groups having six or more persons (the “Charges”). The bills that Chandlers gave its customers during the Audit Period did not contain a written statement indicating that the Charges could be declined as required by the Pre-2011 Rule. Chandlers did not retain the Charges in question; rather, the employees involved in preparing or providing the meals, including the server, busser, and bartender, kept the Charges. The Bureau issued a Notice of Deficiency Determination to Chandlers wherein it determined that Chandlers owed $91,243 for sales and use tax plus penalty and interest. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court did not err in rejecting Chandlers’ arguments with respect to non-payment of the Charges, and affirmed that court’s judgment. View "Chandlers-Boise v. Idaho Tax Commission" on Justia Law