Articles Posted in U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals

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The Tariff Act of 1930 permits the Department of Commerce to impose two types of duties on imports that injure domestic industries: antidumping duties on goods sold in the U.S. "at less than ... fair value,” 19 U.S.C. 1673 and countervailing duties on goods that receive “a countervailable subsidy” from a foreign government, 1671(a). Commerce has long collected both types of duties from market economy importers. In 2012, Congress enacted legislation that overruled the Federal Circuit’s 2011 decision, GPXI, and permitted imposition of both antidumping and countervailing duties with respect to importers from non-market economy (NME) countries. Because this law is retroactive and does not require Commerce to adjust for any double counting that may result from the retroactive imposition of both countervailing and antidumping duties, Wireking, an importer affected by the change, claimed that it violated the Ex Post Facto Clause of Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution. The Court of International Trade upheld the new law. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Wireking did not show that the absence of a retrospective double-counting provision negates the law’s predominantly remedial impact. The 2012 law is not punitive and does not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause. View "Guangdong Wireking Housewares v. United States" on Justia Law

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Deutsche Bank filed its 1999 Form 1120F (U.S. Income Tax Return of a Foreign Corporation), reporting total tax of $105,725,463, total payment of $188,256,721, including credit for taxes withheld at the source ($13,256,721), and a resulting overpayment of $82.5 million. Form 1120F does not itemize withholding credits, which were derived from Forms 8805 (Foreign Partner’s Information Statement of Section 1446 Withholding Tax) and 1042-S (Foreign Person’s U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding) received from withholding agents. Deutsche Bank did not attach those forms . The IRS returned the filing, unprocessed, requesting documentation of the withholding credit. In its amended return, Deutsche Bank stated that it discovered an overstatement of the withholding credit by $11,240 and that the correct amount was $13,245,481. The IRS processed the resubmitted return without correcting the error and credited the overpayment to the 2000 tax year. Later, Deutsche Bank filed an amended 1999 return claiming an additional refund of $59 million based on a valuation adjustment. The IRS issued the refund and $5 million in overpayment interest for January 1, 2001 to November 14, 2002. The IRS denied its request for additional interest for March 15 to December 31, 2000. The Claims Court agreed. The Federal Circuit affirmed, stating that the return was not filed by the extended return filing due date in processible form to commence the accrual of overpayment interest. View "Deutsche Bank AG v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, 30 U.S.C. 1201, imposes a fee to underwrite the costs of restoring lands damaged by mining. The fee is 28 cents per ton of coal produced by surface mining and the lesser of 12 cents per ton produced by underground mining, or 10 percent of the value of the coal at the mine. The reclamation fee for lignite coal is the lesser of eight cents per ton or two percent of the value of the coal at the mine. Lignite coal produces less than 8,300 British thermal units per pound, less energy than produced by bituminous, subbituminous, and anthracite coal. In the area of Wyodak’s strip mine near Gillette, Wyoming, coal transitions from subbituminous to lignite in the seams. The end product of the mine’s process is a mixture of subbituminous and lignite coal. Wyodak paid the higher reclamation fee for non-lignite coal. In 2005, Wyodak‘s consultant estimated that 12 percent of its coal was lignite and 88 percent was higher quality. The Office of Surface Mining denied a requested refund. The Claims Court first rejected claims not arising within six years of the filing date, then denied relief, holding that the fee is on coal as extracted. Because the BTU value of the blend was higher than 8300 BTUs per pound, Wyodak was not entitled to a refund for any lignite in the mix. The Federal Circuit reversed and remanded, noting that Wyodak had the burden of proving entitlement to and the amount of any refund. View "Wyodak Res. Dev. Corp. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Entities (Cencast) that remit payroll and employment taxes on behalf of motion picture and television production companies filed Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) and the Federal Insurance Contribution Act employment tax returns, treating each employee as being in an “employment” relationship with Cencast rather than with the production companies. This reduced the overall tax payments because of statutory caps on FUTA and FICA taxes. The amount of tax that was avoided is equal to the additional amounts of FUTA and FICA tax that individual production companies would have been liable for had they conducted their own payroll services and filed their own returns. The United States Court of Federal Claims rejected Cencast’s refund claims. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that the scope of Cencast’s liability for employment taxes under the (FICA) is determined by reference to the employees’ “employment” relationships with the common law employers for which Cencast remits taxes (the production companies). Those common law employers cannot decrease their liability by retaining entities such as Cencast to actually make wage payments to the employees. The court further noted that some of the individuals classified as employees were independent contractors, so that Cencast was barred from seeking refunds. View "Cencast Servs., L.P. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Boeri, a citizen of Italy, has never lived or worked in the U.S. He worked for Verizon in Italy for 11 years, Brazil for 5 years, Argentina for 5 years, and the Dominican Republic for 15 years. In 2003 Boeri chose to participate in Verizon’s Management Voluntary Separation Plan, and was awarded a gross separation payment of $247,177 in 2004. Verizon withheld a total of $70,559, including U.S. income tax withholding, Social Security tax, and Medicare tax. In 2009 Boeri filed a nonresident alien income tax return for the 2004 tax year, seeking a refund. The IRS denied the request as untimely. The IRS Appeals Office denied an administrative appeal in 2011. Boeri appealed to the Claims Court, arguing that he is not seeking a refund of a tax overpayment, but correction of erroneous withholding and that these circumstances are not within the scope of the three-year look-back provision of 26 U.S.C. 6511(b)(2)(A). The Claims Court dismissed, reasoning that sections 6513(b)(1) and (c)(2) specify when advance payments of income tax and social security and Medicare taxes are deemed paid, and that the payments for which Boeri sought a refund were deemed paid on April 15, 2005. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Boeri v. United States" on Justia Law

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In 2003, after more than a decade of litigation, the IRS assessed penalties under now-repealed I.R.C. 6621(c), which penalizes “substantial” underpayments of tax “attributable to tax motivated transactions” against the 19 partners of the Dillon Oil Technology Partnership in tax years 1983 and 1984. The partners paid the tax and penalties in 2004, and, in 2006, initiated a refund suit. The Court of Federal Claims dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act, 1 I.R.C.7422(h), which provides that individual partners may not bring tax challenges relating to subject matter “attributable to a partnership item.” Such claims must be brought in a partnership-level suit by the partnership representative or Tax Matters Partner. The Federal Circuit affirmed, calling the claim an impermissible collateral attack. View "Bush v. United States" on Justia Law

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Deckers imported UGG® Classic Crochet boots having a knit upper portion and a rubber sole. They do not have laces, buckles, or fasteners, can be pulled on by hand, and extend above the ankle. At liquidation, Customs classified the boots under Subheading 19.35, covering: “Footwear with outer soles of rubber, plastics, leather or composition leather and uppers of textile materials: Footwear with outer soles of rubber or plastics: Other: Footwear with open toes or open heels; footwear of the slip-on type, that is held to the foot without the use of laces or buckles or other fasteners, the foregoing except footwear of subheading 6404.19.20 and except footwear having a foxing or foxing-like band wholly or almost wholly of rubber or plastics applied or molded at the sole and overlapping the upper” and subject to a duty rate of 37.5 percent. Deckers sought reclassification under subheading 6404.19.90, covering“[f]ootwear with outer soles of rubber . . . uppers of textile materials” that is “[v]alued [at] over $12/pair,” subject to a duty rate of nine percent. Customs rejected an argument that the term “footwear of the slip-on type” only encompasses footwear that does not extend above the ankle. The Trade Court granted the government summary judgment. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Deckers Outdoor Corp. v. United States" on Justia Law

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In its tax return for the year 1997, ConEd claimed multiple deductions pertaining to a lease-in/lease-out (LILO) tax shelter transaction under which a Dutch utility, EZH, a tax-indifferent entity because it is not subject to U.S. taxation, conveyed to ConEd a gas-fired cogeneration plant that delivers power to customers in the Netherlands, then leased it back, followed by a reconveyance to EZH and a sublease. The stated purpose of the arrangement was tax avoidance. LILO transactions accelerate losses to the taxpayer and defer gains. The transaction provided several upfront deductions that allowed ConEd to pay lower taxes in 1997 (and in later years) than it otherwise would have. The IRS disallowed these claimed deductions and assessed a deficiency of $328,066. ConEd paid the deficiency and filed a refund claim; when this claim was denied, ConEd filed suit. The Claims Court awarded ConEd a full refund. The Federal Circuit reversed, applying the substance-over-form doctrine to conclude that ConEd’s claimed deductions must be disallowed. There was a reasonable likelihood that EZH would exercise its purchase option at the conclusion of the ConEd sublease, thus rendering the master lease illusory. View "Consol. Edison Co. of NY v. United States" on Justia Law

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The IRS assigned a taxpayer identification number to Crystal Cascades, LLC. The company changed its name to Crystal Cascades Civil, LLC (CCC), but did not notify the IRS and continued using the original number. A Nevada bank made loans to CCC and recorded trust deeds. CCC failed to pay employment taxes in 2003 and 2004. The IRS filed tax lien notices in 2004-2005, under the identification number and directed to “Crystal Cascades, LLC.” In 2005 RHB made loans to CCC. The Nevada bank initiated foreclosure. CCC filed under Chapter 11. RHB argued seniority over the tax liens. During foreclosure, RHB purchased the property. Under I.R.C. 7452(d), the IRS may redeem properties against which it has a valid tax lien. The parties negotiated for RHB to pay $100,000; the IRS released its right of redemption. The bankruptcy court concluded that the lien notices did not impart constructive notice to third parties and awarded RHB surplus sale proceeds. The Ninth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel affirmed. RHB sought return of the $100,000, asserting that the agreement was void for lack of consideration because the right of redemption was illusory. The Court of Federal Claims held that RHB failed to prove that the IRS acted in bad faith. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Rd. & Hwy. Bldrs., LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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As a partner of E&Y, Hartman received restricted shares in Cap Gemini as part of a 2000 sale. The agreement provided for an initial sale of 25 percent of the shares to satisfy each partner’s tax liability as a result of the transaction. In 2001 Hartman received a Form 1099-B reflecting that he was deemed to have received $8,262,183, valuing his unsold Cap shares at $148 per share. Hartman’s return for 2000, reported the entire amount as capital gains income. After closing, the value of Cap shares dropped to $56 per share. Hartman voluntarily terminated his employment, forfeiting 10,560 shares of stock. He received a credit for taxes paid on those shares under I.R.C. 1341. In 2003, Hartman filed an amended return for 2000, claiming that he had received only the 25 percent of Cap shares that had been monetized in 2000, with the remainder received in 2001 and 2002. He sought a refund of $1,298,134. The IRS failed to act on the claim. The Claims Court found that Hartman had constructively received all 55,000 shares in 2000 and was not entitled to a tax refund. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Hartman v. United States" on Justia Law