Articles Posted in Oklahoma Supreme Court

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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

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Appellants Wsbaldo Valdez and Linda Vargas owned property in joint tenancy and neglected to pay the 2005 property taxes. In 2006, Appellee Mae Ouellette purchased the property at a tax sale and later applied for a tax deed. She served notice on Vargas but not on Valdez. In 2008, Ouellette received a tax deed. Valdez and Vargas filed a petition to quiet title, for ejectment, and damages. They then filed a motion for partial summary judgment asserting the tax deed was void for failure to serve Valdez, and Valdez could redeem the entire property. In Ouellette's counter-motion for summary judgment and response to Appellee's motion for partial summary judgment, her two main assertions were: (1) Valdez and Vargas were either an unincorporated association or a partnership and service on Vargas was good service on Valdez; and (2) the service on Vargas was at least valid and the tax deed was effective as to her interest, thereby severing the joint tenancy. Ouellette argued she and Valdez were tenants in common. The trial court held that service on Valdez was ineffective but agreed with Ouellette that Valdez could not redeem the entire property, and Valdez and Ouellette were tenants in common. The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals affirmed. Upon review, the Supreme Court held that service of a notice for application of tax deed is mandatory and must be made on all parties according to the applicable statute. Failure to make such service will render any issued tax deed void in its entirety. Accordingly, Valdez had the right to redeem the entire property. The Court reversed the trial court's decision.

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Plaintiff-Appellant Michael Thomas filed suit in district court seeking a declaratory judgment that H.B.1804, the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizens Protection Act of 2007, was unconstitutional. Plaintiff sued Brad Henry, Governor of Oklahoma, and the Board of County Commissioners of Tulsa County. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that Plaintiff lacked standing to sue. The trial judge denied the defendants' motion to dismiss. Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial judge partially granted the motion for summary judgment, finding that part of the Act violated the single-subject rule. The trial judge severed that portion from the remainder of H.B.1804 and held that the remainder of H.B.1804 did not violate the Oklahoma constitutional provisions urged by the plaintiff. Plaintiff appealed and Defendant filed a counter-appeal, arguing that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because the plaintiff lacked taxpayer standing to challenge the Act. Upon careful consideration of the arguments by both sides, and of the applicable legal authority, the Supreme Court agreed with the trial court's assessment that H.B.1804 does not otherwise violate the Oklahoma constitutional provisions as urged by Plaintiff. The Court declined "to concern itself with a statute's propriety, desirability, wisdom or its practicality as a working proposition; such questions are plainly and definitely established by fundamental law as functions of the legislative branch of government." The Court affirmed the trial court's holding for all but one section of H.B.1804, and remanded the case for further consideration.