Justia Tax Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals
Rebuild America, Inc. v. Davis
The Davises failed to pay the real estate tax for their property, resulting in a statutory tax. The Davises then filed a petition for bankruptcy, which was granted. Subsequently, the sheriff sold the tax lien. After the statutory time period that the Davises could redeem the property had passed and the property remained unredeemed, the tax lien purchaser received a tax deed conveying the Davises' property. The trial court set aside the tax deed, concluding that the tax lien sale should not have been held because the Davises had been in bankruptcy and because the sheriff did not give sufficient notice to the Davises of the tax delinquency, lien, and sale. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred (1) in considering issues relating to the sufficiency of the sheriff's service of the notices; (2) in considering the sheriff's pre-sale notices to the Davises, as only the post-sale notice to redeem is relevant in a lawsuit to set aside a tax deed; and (3) by granting judgment without making sufficient findings of fact and conclusions of law as to the effect the Davises' bankruptcy had on the tax lien. Remanded. View "Rebuild America, Inc. v. Davis" on Justia Law
State ex rel. Mass. Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Jefferson County Circuit Court (Sanders)
This case was before the Supreme Court on a writ of prohibition brought by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) seeking to prohibit the circuit court from enforcing two orders requiring the president and CEO of MassMutual to submit to depositions. MassMutual argued (1) the orders requiring its president to submit to depositions were properly the subject of a writ of prohibition, and (2) the orders compelling the depositions of this high-ranking corporate executive, despite his lack of any personal or unique knowledge about the cases, were clearly erroneous and constituted an abuse of the circuit court's discretion. The Supreme Court issued the writ after adopting the apex deposition rule, a framework for assessing whether the deposition of a high-ranking corporate official is proper, holding that because the circuit court, in this case, did not make findings of fact or conclusions of law, there was an insufficient basis to sustain the circuit court's orders. View "State ex rel. Mass. Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Jefferson County Circuit Court (Sanders)" on Justia Law
Pilgrim’s Pride v. Morris
Taxpayer, related corporations that operated a vertically-integrated poultry production business, sought an exemption from ad valorem taxes on five industrial personal property tax returns it filed with the State Tax Department, claiming it was exempt from such taxation under either the "subsistence of livestock" or the "farm" exemption under W. Va. Code 11-3-9-(a)(21), (28). The State Tax Commissioner concluded that Taxpayer was not entitled to either exemption. The trial court (1) ruled that Taxpayer was entitled to claim the "subsistence of livestock" exemption in connection with its hatchery operation but not with regard to personal property used at its live haul center and feed mill operation; and (2) concluded that none of Taxpayer's operation qualified for the "farm" exemption. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in ruling that Taxpayer was not entitled to any exemptions from personal property taxation in connection with its commercial poultry operation other than the exemption afforded to its hatchery operation.
Griffith v. Frontier West Virginia, Inc.
Craig Griffith, state tax commissioner, appealed from an order entered by a circuit court that reversed an earlier order of the Office of Tax Appeals and found that Frontier West Virginia was entitled to a refund of its telecommunications tax for the 2004 year in the amount of over nine million dollars. The Supreme Court reinstated the order of the Office of Tax Appeals and (1) affirmed the circuit court's ruling finding the subject statute, W. Va. Code 11.13B02(b)(5), was plain and unambiguous; (2) reversed the circuit court's ruling finding the governing rule, W. Va. C.S.R. 110-13B-2.6, invalid; and (3) reversed the circuit court's determination that the West Virginia Public Service Commission's (PSC) list of competitive services that were exempt from the telecommunications tax applied to define a taxpayer's gross income for the calendar year in which the PSC issued its list. Rather, the Court held that the PSC's list operated to define a taxpayer's gross income for the calendar year following the issuance of the list.