Justia Tax Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Rhode Island Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Movants' motions to intervene in an action commenced by Verizon New England Inc. by way of appeal from a decision of the Tax Administrator for the State of Rhode Island, holding that the trial judge did not err.This appeal arose from Verizon's challenge to a final decision of the tax administrator that upheld an assessment of Verizon's tangible personal property (TPP) tax and denied Verizon's request for a lower assessment and a partial refund. Verizon appealed to the district court. The City of Pawtucket and the City of Cranston (collectively, Movants) moved to intervene as of right, claiming an interest in the TPP tax. The district court denied the motions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial judge did not err or abuse his discretion in concluding that Movants failed to demonstrate that their interests were not adequately represented. View "Verizon New England Inc. v. Savage" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs in their appeal from the order of the state tax administrator denying a refund with respect to a conveyance tax paid pursuant to a memorandum of agreement, holding that Plaintiffs were entitled to judgment as a matter of law.In this dispute surrounding the conveyance tax Plaintiffs paid to expediently transfer a mall and an associate parking garage, the district court concluded that the transfer of interest in a lease entered into by Plaintiffs was not subject to the conveyance tax under R.I. Gen. Laws 44-25-1(a) because of a tax exemption granted through action by the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation. The district court granted final judgment in favor of Plaintiffs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment for Plaintiffs. View "Providence Place Group Limited, Partnership v. State ex rel. Division of Taxation" on Justia Law

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In these consolidated appeals, the Supreme Court reversed two judgments of the superior court entered in favor of Petitioners, a group of taxpayers who challenged the City of Providence's tax assessments on their properties for tax years 2014 and 2015, holding that the trial justice erred.The trial justice ruled that a revaluation conducted in 2013 of property values was illegal and invalid and that the tax bills for the relevant tax years shall be revised based on the 2012 revaluation. The superior court entered judgment in favor of Petitioners in excess of $1.5 million. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial justice improperly weighed the evidence and erred as a matter of law in finding that the 2013 revaluation was illegal, invalid, selective, arbitrary, and discriminatory. View "Athena Providence Place v. Pare" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the final decree of the superior court foreclosing Respondent's right of reception for property sold at a tax sale, holding that there was no error.Petitioner purchased the property at issue in this case at a tax sale. More than one year after the tax sale and the recording of the deed, Petitioner filed a petition seeking to foreclose Respondent's right of redemption. The superior court held a hearing on the petition and determined that Respondent was in default and that Petitioner was entitled to its requested relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Respondent waived all of the arguments that he raised on appeal. View "E.T. Investments, LLC v. Riley" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approving the interconnection tax which National Grid (NG) charged Petitioners to interconnect to NG's distribution system then paid to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as contributions in aid of construction, holding that the PUC did not err.In their petition for the issuance of writ of certiorari, Petitioners asked the Supreme Court to declare the PUC order illegal and unreasonable for purportedly failing to follow a specific IRS ruling and for failing to hold NG to its burden of proof. The Supreme Court affirmed the PUC's order, holding (1) NG was entirely reasonable in believing that it continued to owe the interconnection tax to the IRS and in, therefore, passing that tax on to Petitioners; and (2) the PUC order fully comported with a settlement proposal in this case. View "ACP Land, LLC v. Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission" on Justia Law

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In these actions challenging the assessment of alleged illegal real estate taxes on several properties and property owners, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor of Defendants in the declaratory judgment action and denied and dismissed the appeal in the tax appeal action, holding that the Plaintiff did not have standing in either action.Defendants were various officials of the Town of Barrington, Rhode Island; Sweetbriar, LP; and East Bay Community Development Corporation. Plaintiff was the owner of property located in Barrington. Plaintiff filed a complaint appealing the assessment of his property (tax appeal action) and filed a separate declaratory judgment action. In essence, Plaintiff argued that he was forced to pay a higher amount on his taxes because of Sweetbriar's favorable tax treatment under R.I. Gen. Laws 44-5-12 and 44-5-13.11. The hearing justice ruled that Plaintiff lacked standing to bring either action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff lacked standing to bring the declaratory judgment action; and (2) the hearing justice did not err in determining that Plaintiff lacked standing to challenge Barrington's application of section 44-5-12 and 44-5-13.11 to the Sweetbriar development, along with another project. View "Morse v. Minardi" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting Defendants' motion to dismiss this action challenging the assessment of alleged illegal taxes, holding that the hearing justice did not err in granting Defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Superior court Rules of Civil Procedure.Plaintiff, Bluedog Capital Partners, LLC, filed this action against the tax collector, the tax assessor, and the finance director for the City of Providence, alleging that Defendants had illegal assessed a parcel of property in Providence and seeking injunctive relief against the sale of the parcel pursuant to a tax sale. The hearing justice granted Defendants' motion to dismiss, concluding that the suit would need to sound in equity and was therefore time-barred and that there was nothing to enjoin because the property had already been sold. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Plaintiff failed to comply with the taxing statutes, its complaint failed as a matter of law, and even assuming for purposes of Defendants' motion to dismiss that Plaintiff had alleged an illegal tax, Plaintiff's complaint was untimely under the statute of limitations in R.I. Gen. Laws 44-5-27. View "Bluedog Capital Partners, LLC v. Murphy" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether Plaintiffs, a group of taxpayers in the Town of Portsmouth, were required to base their tax appeals on the fair market value of their properties as of December 31 in the year of the last update or revaluation.The value of Plaintiffs’ properties decreased in 2008 and 2009. The trial justice found that Plaintiffs could challenge the Portsmouth tax assessor’s (Defendant) tax assessments for tax years 2009 and 2010 using the fair market values of their properties as of December 31, 2008 and December 31, 2009, respectively, thus concluding that Plaintiffs were not confined to December 31, 2007 valuations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs were authorized under chapter 5 of title 44 of the Rhode Island General Laws to challenge Defendant’s assessments for tax years 2009 and 2010 by employing the fair market values of their properties as of December 31, 2008 and December 31, 2009, respectively. View "Balmuth v. Dolce" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting the City of Providence’s motion for summary judgment in this lawsuit filed by Lehigh Cement Co. seeking to recover approximately $500,000 in real estate taxes billed and collected by the city from 2006 to 2009. The court held (1) the hearing justice did not err in granting summary judgment on Lehigh’s claim under R.I. Gen. Laws 44-5-23, as the statute does not provide relief to a taxpayer; (2) summary judgment on Lehigh’s claim under the fair distribution clause of the Rhode Island Constitution was appropriate; and (3) the hearing justice did not err in granting summary judgment on Lehigh’s claim under R.I. Gen. Laws 44-5-27. View "Lehigh Cement Co. v. Quinn" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed three petitions for relief from property tax assessments on their home for the tax years 2009 through 2011. The petitions and appeals were consolidated. The trial justice granted judgment in favor of Plaintiffs in all three appeals, concluding that Plaintiffs sustained their burden of proving that their property was overvalued by the tax assessor. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial justice did not err in determining that Plaintiffs met their burden of proving that the tax assessor’s valuation was above the fair market value; (2) there was sufficient evidence to support the trial justice’s valuation; and (3) the trial justice should have dismissed Plaintiffs’ third petition challenging their 2011 assessment based on Plaintiffs’ failure to timely file an account. Remanded. View "Whittemore v. Thompson" on Justia Law