Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the trial court's conclusion that the $19 million given to petitioner to invest was not a tax-free loan. The court affirmed the trial court's finding that the money became income to petitioner when he diverted it for his personal use, because he was realizing an economic benefit from the money; affirmed the tax court's imposition of penalties resulting from negligence or disregard of rules or regulations, because petitioner failed to show the complete disclosure of relevant facts to his accountants that would compel a good faith defense of reliance; and affirmed the tax court's decision allowing the IRS to recompute the amount of the deficiency after the tax court ruled that all the money was income to petitioner, as oppose to petitioner's corporation. View "Sun v. Commissioner" on Justia Law

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The hotel occupancy tax applies only to the discounted room rate paid by the online travel company (OTC) to the hotel. The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's judgment in a class action asserting that the service fee an OTC charges for facilitating a hotel reservation was included in the "cost of occupancy", and thus subject to the municipalities' hotel occupancy tax ordinances. The court applied City of Houston v. Hotels.com, L.P., 357 S.W.3d 706, 707, and held that OTCs in this case were not liable because the only monetary amounts at issue in this class action were those not included in the scope of the hotel occupancy tax base. The Houston court explained that, under the plain meaning of the ordinance, the cost of occupancy was the amount for which three conditions were satisfied: the consideration at issue must have been paid or charged for the use or possession, or the right to use or possess, a hotel room; the amounts to be taxed must have been paid by the occupant of such room; and the amount to be taxed must have been paid to such hotel. Therefore, the court rendered judgment for the OTCs in this case. View "City of San Antonio, Texas v. Hotels.com, L.P." on Justia Law

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BCR Partnerships claimed that the Commissioner wrongfully disallowed their charitable deductions for two conservation easements, and contended that in ruling for the Commission, the Tax Court wrongfully classified the sale of limited partnership interests as disguised sales and wrongfully imposed a gross valuation misstatement penalty. The Fifth Circuit vacated the Tax Court's holding regarding the perpetuity of the easements and the baseline documentation, and remanded for consideration of the other grounds asserted by the Commissioner to support the disqualification of the easements as charitable deductions but not addressed by the Tax Court. The court vacated the Tax Court's determination that the entirety of the limited partners' contributions were disguised sales, and remanded for a determination as to the correct amount of any taxable income that resulted from the disguised sales. Finally, the court vacated and remanded to the Tax Court for it to determine whether the gross valuation misstatement penalty was applicable and if so, the proper amount of any penalty. View "BC Ranch II, LP v. CIR" on Justia Law