Articles Posted in Oklahoma Supreme Court

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Within the 2006 through 2010 tax years, the Oklahoma Tax Commission and the Oklahoma State Board of Equalization issued certified assessments of certain public property physically located within the boundaries of the Stroud school district. Ad valorem taxes associated with these properties were distributed by the Lincoln County Treasurer to the Cushing and Wellston districts, instead of to Stroud. The error was discovered and subsequently corrected by the Lincoln County Board of Tax Roll Corrections during the 2010-2011 fiscal year. There was no disagreement among the three school districts that they were not responsible for the errors made in the distribution of the ad valorem taxes. To recover the funds that should have been Stroud's, Stroud sued Cushing and Wellston school districts. Stroud filed its petition on April 22, 2013. The defendant school districts filed a motion for summary judgment in December of 2014. In the same month, the plaintiff responded with its own motion for summary judgment. Stroud received the taxes from the property identified as within its district; Cushing received the taxes from the property identified as within its district; and Wellston received the taxes from the property identified as within its district. The Oklahoma Supreme Court found Stroud received the same amount for its general funds that it would have received had the ad valorem taxes been properly allocated. Nevertheless, it demanded additional funds from Cushing and Wellston that it would have received if the real property had been correctly identified. The Court determined if that amount was paid to Stroud, then Cushing and Wellston would have deficits in those districts that they would not have if the real property had been correctly identified. Stroud did not believe the other two school districts are entitled to a setoff if they paid Stroud the misallocated ad valorem taxes. The Court found all three school districts were victims of this error, but no district failed to receive the funds needed for their respective districts. The Court reversed judgments against the Cushing and Wellston districts and that in favor of Stroud: "county and state officials will make mistakes in the taxing of property and the distribution of taxes." View "Independent Sch. Dist. No. 54 v. Independent Sch. Dist. No. 67" on Justia Law

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The plaintiffs-respondents in this case sued hundreds of defendants, whom the plaintiffs asserted had served them mixed drinks over a period of several years prior to filing the lawsuit. The plaintiffs claimed that defendants had violated a tax statute, 37 O.S.2011, section 576(B)(2), that required a 13.5% tax on the gross receipts the holders of a license by the ABLE Commission for sale of a mixed beverage. They contended that the licensees who failed to combine the retail sale price with the tax in its advertised price had overcharged their customers by 13.5%. The defendants appealed the trial court's interpretation of the statute. The Oklahoma Supreme Court remanded these cases with orders to dismiss: "Although the briefs from the parties skillfully address other permutations of argument on both sides of this cause, we conclude that what we have chosen to address sufficiently resolves the main issue presented. The statute's ambiguities caused sufficient problems in collection of the tax that the Legislature amended the statute. We hold that the statute's purpose does not involve protecting consumers from having a tax separately listed from the price of a drink instead of including it in the price of a drink. Because the complaints of the plaintiffs against the defendants rest on the assumption that 37 O.S.2011, section 576(B)(2) protects consumers, and we have held that it is solely a tax statute." View "Truel v. Aguirre, LLC" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, Sierra Club, requested the Oklahoma Supreme Court to assume original jurisdiction and petitioned for a writ of prohibition or mandamus. Petitioner alleged that House Bill 1449 was a revenue bill that violated Article V, Section 33 of the Oklahoma Constitution. H.B. 1449 created the Motor Fuels Tax Fee for electric-drive and hybrid-drive vehicles, of $100 and $30 per year respectively, and directed that the money from the fees be deposited to the State Highway Construction and Maintenance Fund. The House passed H.B. 1449 on May 22, 2017 and the Senate passed it on May 25, 2017. H.B. 1449 passed with more than 51%, but less than 75%, of the vote in both chambers. It was scheduled to take effect November 1, 2017. The Oklahoma Supreme Court assumed original jurisdiction and transformed the petition into a request for declaratory relief. The Court found H.B. 1449 was enacted to raise revenue and was in violation of Article V, Section 33 of the Oklahoma Constitution. View "Sierra Club v. Oklahoma ex rel. Oklahoma Tax Comm'n" on Justia Law

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Petitioners are manufacturers, wholesalers, and consumers of cigarettes. Collectively they challenged Oklahoma Senate Bill 845, alleging that it was a revenue bill enacted outside of the procedure mandated in Article V, Section 33 of the Oklahoma Constitution. The parties agreed that the passage of SB 845 did not comply with Article V, Section 33; so the case turned on whether SB 845 was the kind of "revenue bill" that Article V, Section 33 governed. Applying a test used since 1908, the Oklahoma Supreme Court concluded that the primary purpose of Sections 2, 7, 8, and 9 of SB 845 was to raise new revenue for the support of state government through the assessment of a new $1.50 excise tax on cigarettes and that, in doing so, SB 845 levied a tax in the strict sense. As such, Sections 2, 7, 8, and 9 of SB 845 comprised a revenue bill enacted in violation of Article V, Section 33 and were unconstitutional View "Naifeh v. Oklahoma, ex rel. Oklahoma Tax Comm'n" on Justia Law

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Taxpayer held stock in two Oklahoma S-corporations. He sold substantially all of the corporate assets of both companies to a third party. Following the sale, taxpayer received his proportionate share of the proceeds, and reported that sum as a net capital gain on his federal tax return. Taxpayer later sought a deduction equivalent to the net capital gain on an amended Oklahoma return. The Oklahoma Tax Commission disallowed the deduction to the extent the proceeds were derived from intangible personal property (namely goodwill). After review of the matter, the Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed, finding the taxpayer sold an indirect ownership interest in an Oklahoma company, and therefore, qualified for the deduction. View "In the Matter of the Income Tax Protest of Hare" on Justia Law

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The Oklahoma Tax Commission appealed a ruling by the District Court of Grady County which found a decedent's outstanding 1978-1985 income tax liability was barred from collection through Decedent's probate case. The trial court's ruling was based on the ten-year limitation imposed by 68 O.S. 2001 section 223(A). The Court of Civil Appeals reversed, concluding the statute operated as a statute of limitations and did not violate the Oklahoma Constitution. The Court also found that the Oklahoma probate code required satisfaction of the tax debt before distribution of the estate assets. The decedent's estate appealed that ruling. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the appellate court correctly held that 68 O.S. 2001 section 223(A) was a statute of limitations and did not extinguish an underlying debt to the state in violation of the Oklahoma Constitution. However, the Court concluded that neither 58 O.S. 2001 section 591 nor 58 O.S. 2001 section 635 of the probate code require payment of a debt otherwise barred by the statute of limitations. View "In the matter of the Estate of Bell-Levine" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant Ada Electric Cars, LLC filed suit against Defendants-Appellees Thomas Kemp Jr., Jerry Johnson, Dawn Cash, and Rick Miller, members of the Oklahoma Tax Commission (OTC), in their individual capacities, in response to the OTC's denial of a statutory tax credit for certain models of Tomberlin low-speed electric vehicles (LSVs) sold by the Appellant to its customers. The statutory tax credit provided for a one-time credit against income tax for investments in qualified electric motor vehicle property. The dispositive issue presented to the Supreme Court was whether Appellees were entitled to qualified immunity from suit for their determination that LSVs sold by Appellant did not qualify for the tax credit. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that Defendants did qualify for immunity, and affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "Ada Electric Cars, LLC v. Kemp" on Justia Law

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The Tulsa County Assessor's office assessed ad valorem taxes on the Shadybrook Apartment Complex for the years 2004, 2005, and 2006. Shadybrook, under protest, timely paid the taxes each year, but appealed the Assessor's valuation to the Tulsa County Board of Tax Roll Corrections and the Tulsa County Board of Equalization. After receiving unfavorable decisions, Shadybrook appealed to the district court. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Shadybrook, determining that Shadybrook qualified for an exemption from ad valorem taxation pursuant to the Oklahoma Constitution, Article 10, sec. 6A. The Assessor appealed. On the first appeal in this case, the appellate court upheld the trial court's ruling in part but reversed and remanded with instructions to the trial court to determine whether Shadybrook's use of the property was for charitable purposes under Article 10, sec. 6A so as to overcome the Supreme Court's ruling in "London Square Village v. Oklahoma County Equalization and Excise Board." Neither party petitioned the Supreme Court for certiorari based on that opinion. On remand, the trial court found in favor of Shadybrook and the Assessor appealed. The Supreme Court retained the appeal. After further review, the Supreme Court held that Shadybrook's operation of the low-income housing complex was a charitable use under the constitutional ad valorem tax exemption in Article 10, sec. 6A of the Oklahoma Constitution. The statutory language in 68 O.S. 2004 sec. 2887(8)(a)(2)(b) excluding property funded with proceeds from the sale of federally tax-exempt bonds from ad valorem exemption is unconstitutional. The Court overruled "London Square Village." View "AOF/Shadybrook Affordable Housing Corp. v. Yazel" on Justia Law

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In 2010, the Oklahoma Legislature amended the Oklahoma Tax Code to require municipalities to contract with the State of Oklahoma through the Oklahoma Tax Commission to assess, collect and enforce municipal taxes. Prior to the amendment becoming effective, the City of Tulsa contracted with a private company to collect municipal taxes. On August 19, 2010, Tulsa filed a petition for declaratory judgment in the District Court of Oklahoma County to challenge the statute's constitutionality. The trial court found the statute unconstitutional. The State appealed and the Supreme Court granted certiorari. Upon review, the Court held that the amendments requiring the Commission to collect municipal sales and use taxes do not unconstitutionally impair Tulsa's obligation of contracts or infringe its inherent powers granted by the Constitution or the City's charter. View "City of Tulsa v. Oklahoma" on Justia Law

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The Oklahoma Tax Commission assessed corporate income taxes against Vermont Corporation Scioto Insurance Company for 2001 through 2005, based on payments Scioto received from the use of Scioto's intellectual property by Wendy's restaurants in Oklahoma. In response, Scioto protested these assessments on the ground that it did not contract with the Wendy's restaurants in Oklahoma for use of the property in question and did not conduct any business whatsoever in Oklahoma. The Tax Commission denied Scioto's protest and the Court of Civil Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court previously granted certiorari. Upon review, the Court vacated the Court of Civil Appeals opinion, reversed the Tax Commission's denial of Scioto's protest and remanded the case with instructions to sustain Scioto's protest. View "In re Income Tax Protest of Scioto Ins. Co." on Justia Law