Justia Tax Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Oregon Supreme Court
D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments, LLC v. Dept. of Rev.
At issue in this appeal was whether the Oregon Department of Revenue erred in declining to reduce the assessed value of taxpayer’s property for tax years 2018-2019 and 2019-2020. After persuading the Department that the valuation methodology it used to assess the property in 2020-2021 was flawed, the taxpayer asked the Department to use the corrected methodology to re-assess the two previous tax years. The Department denied the request, finding the statute the taxpayer used as grounds, ORS 306.115, did not authorize the Department to change its value opinion for the earlier tax years because another statute, ORS 308.624(4), expressly precluded the Department from making that change. The Oregon Tax Court agreed with the Department, and the taxpayer appealed, contending the Department and Tax Court misinterpreted the applicable statutes. The Oregon Supreme Court found no misinterpretation and affirmed. View "D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments, LLC v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law
Woodland v. Dept. of Rev.
Taxpayer Walter Woodland appealed the Oregon Department of Revenue’s assessment of $116 in interest for unpaid estimated taxes in 2019. During the pendency of that appeal, the department invalidated the assessment and agreed that taxpayer did not owe that interest. The Regular Division of the Oregon Tax Court accordingly dismissed taxpayer’s appeal as moot. The Oregon Supreme Court affirmed. View "Woodland v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law
Picker v. Dept. of Rev.
The Oregon Department of Revenue assessed taxpayers $5,595 for deficient taxes, plus additional penalties and interest, for tax year 2013. Taxpayers first appealed that determination to the Magistrate Division of the Tax Court. While the case was pending there, the parties jointly moved to hold the proceedings in abeyance pending the outcome of an Internal Revenue Service audit reconsideration. The parties also entered into an agreement extending the limitation period for the department to make “any adjustment necessary to arrive at the correct amount of Oregon taxable income and Oregon tax liability.” The limitation period expired April 30, 2019, and no new or modified assessment was sent. After the Magistrate Division proceedings were reinstated, taxpayers contended that the extension agreement voided the original assessment, and so the absence of a new assessment meant the court should grant summary judgment in their favor. The department countered that the original assessment remained valid and in effect. The magistrate agreed with the department and denied taxpayers’ motion, and later denied taxpayers’ two motions for reconsideration. After taxpayers repeatedly refused to comply with the department’s request for production of documents, the department moved to dismiss. The magistrate granted that motion, and taxpayers appealed that decision by filing a complaint with the Tax Court Regular Division. Taxpayers’ complaint sought relief from the 2013 assessment of deficient income taxes, and included a motion by taxpayers to stay the statutory requirement to pay the deficiency, together with an affidavit regarding their finances to support their claim that payment would impose an undue hardship. The Tax Court ultimately dismissed taxpayers' appeal for failing to either pay the assessed income tax or show that doing so would constitute an undue hardship. Finding no error in that judgment, the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed dismissal. View "Picker v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law
Jimenez v. Dept. of Rev.
Taxpayers, who did not dispute that they had in fact been paid substantial wages in tax years 2016-18, contended at Tax Court that they owed no Oregon income tax for those years. The Tax Court concluded their arguments in support of that contention were frivolous and therefore warranted a penalty under ORS 305.437. Accordingly, the court ordered taxpayers to pay the Department of Revenue (department) a penalty of$4,000. Taxpayers appealed, challenging only the penalty award. Finding no reversible error, the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed the Tax Court’s judgment. View "Jimenez v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law
Ooma, Inc. v. Dept. of Rev.
The issue on appeal in this case was whether taxpayer, Ooma, Inc., a California company, had sufficient contacts or nexus with Oregon to make it subject to local tax. The Oregon Tax Court concluded that Ooma’s contacts and nexus with Oregon were sufficient to satisfy the Due Process and Commerce Clauses, and granted summary judgment to the Department of Revenue. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed the Tax Court. View "Ooma, Inc. v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law
Khalaf v. Dept. of Rev.
Rami Khalaf (“taxpayer”) was in the business of buying products for customers in the United Arab Emirates, primarily all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). He sought to claim certain business deductions on his 2013 income tax return. As relevant here, those included travel expenses that taxpayer had incurred on trips to the Emirates, and the cost of a dune buggy that taxpayer had purchased for use as a demonstration model. The Department of Revenue rejected those deductions. The Tax Court agreed with the department on those points, holding that the travel expenses were not deductible, because they were not sufficiently documented, and that the dune buggy was not deductible because it counted as inventory. Taxpayer appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed the Tax Court's judgment. View "Khalaf v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law
Estate of Evans v. Dept. of Rev.
The estate of Helene Evans, a deceased Oregon resident, challenged the Oregon Tax Court’s determination that the Department of Revenue lawfully included in Evans’s taxable Oregon estate the principal assets of a Montana trust, of which Evans had been the income beneficiary. Although Evans had a right to receive income generated by those assets during her lifetime and potentially had the right to tap the assets themselves, the estate claimed she had not owned, and did not have control over the assets. Under those circumstances, plaintiff argued, Oregon did not have the kind of connection to the trust assets that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution required for a state to impose a tax on a person, property, or transaction. The Oregon Supreme Court concluded that Oregon’s imposition of its estate tax on the trust assets in this case comported with the requirements of due process. It, therefore, affirmed the judgment of the Tax Court. View "Estate of Evans v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law
Level 3 Communications, LLC v. Dept. of Rev.
Taxpayer Level 3 Communications, LLC (Level 3) challenged the Oregon Tax Court’s determination of the real market value of its tangible and intangible property for the 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17 tax years. Level 3 argued that the Tax Court held that the central assessment statutory scheme permitted taxation of the entire enterprise value of the company, contrary to the wording of applicable statutes that permit taxation only of a centrally assessed corporation’s property. According to Level 3, the Tax Court applied that erroneous holding to incorrectly accept the Department of Revenue’s (the department’s) valuations of Level 3’s property for the relevant tax years. The Oregon Supreme Court concluded Level 3 misconstrued the Tax Court’s decision, and the Tax Court did not err by accepting the department’s valuations. Accordingly, the Tax Court’s judgment was affirmed. View "Level 3 Communications, LLC v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law
Bert Brundige, LLC v. Dept. of Rev.
At Tax Court, the parties disagreed about what types of equipment fall within the definition of "logging equipment" exempt from ad valorem property taxation under ORS 307.27. Specifically, they disagreed about what types of equipment used for logging road work - logging road construction, maintenance, reconstruction, improvement, closure, or obliteration - fell within the definition. Plaintiff Bert Brundige, LLC argued that all types of equipment used for logging road work fell within the definition. Defendant, the Oregon Department of Revenue, argued that excavators were the only type of equipment used for logging road work that fell within the definition. The Tax Court agreed with defendant and entered a judgment in its favor. Plaintiff appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed. View "Bert Brundige, LLC v. Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law
Powell Street I v. Multnomah County Assessor
The issue this case raised for the Oregon Supreme Court’s review centered on the proper valuation, for property tax purposes, of a shopping center that did not have an anchor tenant on the assessment date. The Tax Court accepted taxpayer’s valuation that significantly decreased the value of the shopping center because it was missing an anchor tenant and was more than 50 percent vacant on the relevant date. On appeal, the Department of Revenue contended the Tax Court erred. According to the department, the shopping center was required to be valued the same as a shopping center that did have an anchor tenant and was only 8-10 percent vacant. The Oregon Supreme Court rejected the Department’s argument and affirmed the Tax Court’s judgment. View "Powell Street I v. Multnomah County Assessor" on Justia Law