Articles Posted in Maryland Court of Appeals

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Petitioner, the assignee of an entity that paid certain sewer connection charges, sought a refund of the charges, asserting that they were improperly charged by the Town of Bel Air. The Town’s Director of Finance denied Petitioner’s refund application. On appeal, the Tax Court granted the Town’s motion to dismiss, concluding (1) it lacked jurisdiction to consider Petitioner’s refund claim because it did not come within the purview of the refund statute, and (2) even if the sewer connection charges were miscalculated or illegally imposed the common law voluntary payment doctrine precluded Petitioner from obtaining a refund. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Petitioner may pursue its refund claim under the refund statute; (2) Petitioner’s claim is not barred by the voluntary payment doctrine; and (3) the Tax Court has jurisdiction to consider the appeal. View "Brutus 630, LLC v. Town of Bel Air" on Justia Law

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The assessment of real property in the State for property tax purposes is calculated by reference to the value on the “date of finality,” which is defined as “January 1, immediately before the 1st taxable year to which the assessment based on the new value is applicable.” Petitioner appealed her 2011 tax assessment of a condominium she owned and occupied. The Tax Court concluded that the Tax Property Article did not prohibit the court from taking into account sales of comparable properties that occur after the date of finality in determining the value of a property on the date of finality and, thus, relied on sales of comparable properties that occurred several months after the date of finality. The Circuit Court ruled that the Tax Court erred in considering evidence of post-date of finality sales of comparable properties. The Court of Special Appeals reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the Tax Court may consider the sale of comparable properties occurring within a reasonable time after the date of finality to assess the value of the property; and (2) substantial evidence in the record supported the Tax Court’s assessment of Petitioner’s property, relying on the post-date of finality sales. View "Lane v. Supervisor of Assessments of Montgomery County" on Justia Law

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Appellees’ farm was condemned by the Board of Education for the purpose of building a school. On Appellees’ behalf, the Board paid the State agricultural land transfer tax and the County farmland transfer tax. Appellees requested from the County a refund of a portion of the County farmland transfer tax, arguing that the County, in calculating the County farmland transfer tax, was incorrect in concluding that the twenty-five percent State surcharge was not part of the combined transfer tax. The County denied the request for a refund. The Tax Court affirmed, concluding that the State surcharge was to be collected in addition to the State agricultural land transfer tax and the County farmland transfer tax. The circuit court reversed. The Court of Special Appeals certified the case to the Court of Appeals to answer a question of law. The Court of Appeals answered (1) the agricultural land transfer tax, as set forth in Md. Code Ann. Tax-Prop. 13-407(a)(2) and (3), includes the State surcharge imposed under Md. Code Ann. Tax-Prop. 13-303(d), and the State surcharge must be calculated into the tax ceiling on a county’s agricultural land transfer tax; and (2) therefore, Appellees were entitled to a refund in the amount of the overcharge of the County farmland transfer tax. View "Montgomery County v. Phillips" on Justia Law

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The Maryland Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO) is a public corporation established by the legislature to aid in promoting the economic development of the State. This litigation arose from MEDCO's involvement in the development of a technology development center. MEDCO sought a loan with Bank to finance the center. MEDCO executed a leasehold deed of trust with Bank requiring MEDCO to pay all recording costs and fees in connection with filing the loan documents. MEDCO subsequently presented the deed of trust for recording in Montgomery County, claiming an exemption from the recordation tax based on Md. Code Ann. Econ. Dev. 10-129(a), which granted MEDCO a tax exemption "from any requirement to pay taxes or assessments on its properties or activities." The county transfer office denied the exemption and required MEDCO to pay recordation tax. The county department of finance denied MEDCO's recordation tax refund claim. The tax court denied MEDCO's petition for appeal. The circuit court reversed, and the court of special appeals reversed the circuit court. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that, based on the plain language of section 10-129(a), the legislature intended to exempt MEDCO from paying the recordation tax at issue in this case. View "Md. Econ. Dev. Corp. v. Montgomery County" on Justia Law

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To facilitate the transition to a competitive market for the supply of electricity, the Legislature provided that consumers would receive certain credits over the period of a year to mitigate a large projected increase in Baltimore Gas & Electric Company's (BGE) rates for the supply of electricity. The overall scheme involving credits, charges, and bond financing was known as the rate stabilization plan. Following passage of the rate stabilization law, BGE took the position that the legislation had the effect of deferring part of its franchise tax liability during the period that credits were applied to customers' bills. The Department of Assessments rejected BGE's position. BGE filed a refund claim, which was rejected. The tax court upheld the Department's denial. The circuit court concluded that the deferral credit affected BGE's distribution revenues for purposes of computing its franchise tax liability, that the tax court decision would subject BGE to double taxation, and that BGE was entitled to the claimed refund. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that, in establishing the rate stabilization plan, the legislature neither intentionally nor inadvertently provided for the credits and charges to affect BGE's franchise tax liability. Remanded. View "Dep't of Assessments v. Baltimore Gas & Elec. Co." on Justia Law

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Taxpayer, a Maryland resident, appealed an assessment by the State Comptroller that did not allow a credit against the county income tax portion of the Maryland income tax. Taxpayer's income consisted of significant "pass-through" income generated by a Subchapter S corporation in other states, which was apportioned to Taxpayer and taxed by the states in which it was generated. The tax court affirmed the assessment. The circuit court reversed and remanded for further factual development and "an appropriate credit for out-of-state income taxes paid" on the corporation's income. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the failure of the Maryland income tax law to allow a credit against the county tax for a Maryland resident taxpayer with respect to pass-through income of an S corporation that arises from activities in another state and that is taxed in that state violates the dormant Commerce Clause of the federal Constitution. View "Md. State Comptroller v. Wynne" on Justia Law

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints requested that it be exempt from paying property tax on an apartment complex it owned in Maryland to house missionaries. The county supervisor of assessments concluded that the apartment complex did not qualify for a property tax exemption under Md. Code Ann. Tax-Prop. 7-204 because the complex was not exclusively used as a "parsonage" or a "convent." The Maryland tax court upheld the decision. The circuit court reversed, determining that the complex qualified as both a parsonage and a convent. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the tax court applied the wrong standard in assessing whether the apartment complex constituted a convent. Remanded for the tax court to issue an order granting the exemption. View "Green v. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was whether the Maryland Credit Services Businesses Act (CSBA) applies to a tax preparer who receives payment from a lending bank for facilitating a consumer's obtention of a refund anticipation loan (RAL) where the tax preparer receives no direct payment from the consumer for this service. In this case, the circuit court dismissed Consumer's CSBA claim for failure to state a claim, concluding that the General Assembly enacted the CSBA to regulate credit repair agencies and not RAL facilitators. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the plain language of the CSBA most logically is understood as reflecting the legislative intent that the "payment of money or other valuable consideration" in return for credit services flow directly from the consumer to the credit service business; and (2) therefore, under the CSBA, Tax Preparer in this case was not a "credit services business" nor a "consumer"; and (3) accordingly, the CSBA did not apply in this case. View "Gomez v. Jackson Hewitt, Inc." on Justia Law

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Appellants, a power plant limited partnership and a power plant, leased from the City of Baltimore two adjoining pieces of real estate. After the properties were valued by the City's supervisor of assessments, Appellants challenged the valuations. The property tax assessment appeals board and tax court affirmed. In both cases, Appellant introduced appraisals and testimony that valued the properties at a lower figure based in part on the existence of ground leases owned by the City. The leases, however, were not introduced into evidence during the proceedings. The circuit court affirmed the valuation. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the tax court did not err in its decision to disregard the effect of the ground leases because Appellants did not establish that the leases in issue restricted its use of the properties. View "Cordish Power Plant Ltd. P'ship v. Supervisor of Assessment" on Justia Law

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After the IRS concluded its audit of the Baltimore Orioles Limited Partnership's tax returns for years 1993-1999 and adjusted various partnership items, the personal income tax liability of Wanda King, one of the limited partners, was lessened and she became eligible for a state tax refund totaling $173,364. King filed a claim for refund, but the Comptroller of the Treasury denied it, stating that the refund claim was not timely filed because the IRS's final report regarding adjustments to King's personal tax liability had been issued more than a year before King filed her refund. On appeal, the Maryland tax court ruled in favor of the Comptroller. The circuit court reversed the tax court, and the court of special appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed the court of special appeals, holding (1) the statute of limitations applicable to King's refund claim began to run when the IRS issued to her certain forms on January 3, 2006, and accordingly, King's refund claim had to have been filed within one year of that date; and (2) thus, King's submission on February 2, 2007 was untimely. View "King v. Comptroller" on Justia Law