Justia Tax Law Opinion Summaries
Articles Posted in Wyoming Supreme Court
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision Board of Equalization (Board) reversing the determination of the Department of Revenue (Department) that use of camp spots at the Johnson County Fairgrounds for use during the annual Johnson County Fair and Rodeo was subject to sales and lodging taxation, holding that the Board correctly determined that the campsites and rent received therefrom were not subject to taxation because the Johnson County Fair Board (Fair Board) was not a “vendor” as defined by Wyo. Stat. Ann. 39-15-101(a)(xv). For each of the campsites at issue, the County charged $25 per week and did not collect sales or lodging taxes. The Department concluded that the Fair Board was a non-exempt lodging vendor statutorily obligated to collect sales and lodging taxes for the campsite rentals. The Board reversed, concluding that the Fair Board was not a vendor and therefore not obligated to impose a tax on the fees charges for the use of the campsites. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Board’s determination that the Fair Board was not a vendor and was therefore not required to impose an excise tax was supported by the record. View "State, Department of Revenue v. Board of County Commissioners of Johnson County" on Justia Law
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the Wyoming Board of Equalization (Board) concluding that the issue disputed by the parties in this case was moot, holding that the Board exceeded its authority when it decided an issue that was not before it. Solvay Chemicals, Inc. appealed to the Board the Department of Revenue’s (DOR) assessment of the taxable value of soda ash produced at its trona mine in Sweetwater County, disputing the calculations the DOR used to determine the amount of the deduction for bagging some of the soda. After a contested case hearing, the Board requested supplemental briefs to address a question of statutory construction that had not been raised by either party. The Board then decided that the issue was whether Solvay was entitled to any bagging deduction at all. The Board ultimately concluded that because the governing statute did not allow for a separate deduction for bagging the issue was moot. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Board exceeded its authority when it based its order on an issue not contested or addressed by either party during the contested case hearing. View "Solvay Chemicals, Inc. v. State Department of Revenue" on Justia Law
The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of a complaint brought by the Town of Pine Bluffs alleging that Laramie County illegally taxed a day care center that the Town owned and operated. The Town sought an injunction under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 39-13-109(c)(i), alleging that the property was used for a governmental purpose and was therefore exempt under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 39-11-105(a)(v). The district court granted the County’s motion to dismiss, concluding that the Town should have exhausted administrative remedies before resorting to an injunction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 39-13-109(c)(i) did not provide the Town a remedy for an error in assessing the day care center and that it needed to resort to the administrative process instead. View "Town of Pine Bluffs v. Eisele" on Justia Law
The Supreme Court affirmed the Board of Equalization’s decision affirming the ruling of the Wyoming Department of Revenue against PacifiCorp, Inc., which sought a ruling that its purchases of certain chemicals used in the process of generating electricity in coal-fired electrical generation facilities in Wyoming qualified for either the manufacturers’ sales tax exemption or the wholesalers’ sales tax exemption. The court held (1) The Board erred when it concluded that PacifiCorp is not a manufacturer under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 39-15-105(a)(iii)A); (2) the Board did not err when it held that certain chemicals necessary to treat water and sulfur dioxide emissions during the coal combustion processes that generate electricity are not “used directly” to generate electricity and are therefore not exempt from sales tax under section 39-15-105(a)(iii)(A); and (3) the Board did not err when it held that PacifiCorp’s purchases of certain chemicals and catalysts do not constitute wholesale purchases exempt from taxation under section 39-15-105(a)(iii)(F). View "PacifiCorp, Inc. v. Department of Revenue" on Justia Law
Appellant, a coal producer that reports the taxable value of its coal to the Department of Revenue using the proportionate profits valuation method, challenged two of the Departments determinations, arguing (1) the Department improperly applied Wyoming law when it set the point of valuation for its coal for production years 2009 through 2011; and (2) the Department improperly categorized certain government-imposed and environmental expenses in the tax valuation formula. The Board of Equalization upheld the Board’s determinations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Board correctly upheld the Department’s decision on the point of valuation; and (2) the Board’s decision on the categorization of the environmental and government-imposed expenses was not final, and the issue was not ripe for judicial review. View "Wyodak Resources Development Corp. v. Wyoming Department of Revenue" on Justia Law
This case concerned Merit Energy Company's 2006 natural gas severance and ad valorem tax liability for wells located in several counties. Merit was a take-in-kind interest owner, which is a party who elects to take a portion of the mineral produced rather than receive monetary remuneration for its share of the production. The State Board of Equalization (SBOE) determined that Merit failed to timely appeal several final Wyoming Department of Revenue (DOR) decisions regarding the amount of taxable gas it had received and dismissed Merit's appeal. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in affirming the SBOE's dismissal as untimely; and (2) even if the Court permitted Merit to appeal the notice of valuation change sent by the DOR, the doctrine of collateral estoppel precluded Merit from doing so. View "Merit Energy Co. v. Dep't of Revenue" on Justia Law
In 2006, Teton County voters approved a Teton County Housing Authority (TCHA) sponsored ballot initiative enabling a specific purpose excise tax (SPET) to raise $5 million for TCHA's affordable housing program. In 2007, TCHA purchased a five-acre property on Cheney Lane. Later that year, Plaintiffs, residents of the Cheney Lane neighborhood, initiated a declaratory judgment action against TCHA, alleging violations of SPET limitations, breach of investment duties, and violations of Wyoming statutory limits on public financing. Two weeks after the district court heard arguments on the motion to dismiss, the Village Road Coalition (VRC), a nonprofit corporation consisting of residents of a neighborhood near the Cheney Lane property, filed a motion to intervene. The district court denied the motion. The court subsequently granted TCHA's motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of standing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because VRC's interests and relief sought were duplicative of those presented by Plaintiffs, the district court did not err in denying the motion to intervene; and (2) the district court properly dismissed TCHA's action for lack of standing, as Plaintiffs failed to allege a tangible interest that had been harmed by the acquisition of the property. View "Village Road Coal. v. Teton County Hous. Auth." on Justia Law
John and Minerva Sutherland entered into a mining lease granting Meridian Granite Company the right to conduct mining operations on the Sutherlands' property. A dispute developed between the Sutherlands and Meridian regarding the Sutherlands' obligation to pay taxes relating to the mineral production. The dispute led to litigation. The district court granted Meridian's motion for summary judgment, ruling that the Sutherlands were obligated to pay the disputed taxes. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in allowing Meridian to deduct ad valorem and severance taxes from payments to the Sutherlands when such tax payments were not required by the State, as the Sutherlands and Meridian agreed in the mining lease that the Sutherlands would pay the taxes. View "Sutherland v. Meridian Granite Co." on Justia Law
Posted in: Contracts, Energy, Oil & Gas Law, Real Estate & Property Law, Tax Law, Wyoming Supreme Court
This case arose from a decision rendered by the State Board of Equalization (Board) concerning the valuation point for tax purposes of the natural gas production from the LaBarge Field. The Supreme Court remanded the issue to the Board of whether the meters located at the LaBarge Field well sites were "custody transfer meters" as defined by Wyo. Stat. Ann. 39-14-203(b)(iv) or volume meters for Exxon's share of gas production. The Board held (1) the meters were not custody transfer meters for Exxon's share of gas production, and (2) the same meters were custody transfer meters for the gas produced by two other working interest owners, petroleum companies, who were not parties to the action. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the Board's determination that the meters were not custody transfer meters for Exxon's gas where the Board's determination harmonized with precedent established in Amoco Prod. Co. v. Dep't of Revenue; but (2) reversed the Board's determination that the meters were custody transfer meters for the petroleum companies' gas because the Board did not have the authority to determine the valuation point for "non-party" persons or entities that do not appeal their tax assessments.
After an audit, the Department of Revenue (DOR) determined that Qwest was not entitled to a refund of sales tax. The tax was incorrectly collected from Qwest's customers and remitted to the state because Qwest did not provide data showing the actual amount of tax collected and remitted by month and by country. Qwest subsequently produced to the DOR the actual sales tax information. The State Board of Equalization (SBOE) supplemented the record with the actual data and reversed the DOR's decision. The district court affirmed. At issue on appeal was whether the SBOE erred by considering the newly produced evidence. The Supreme Court (1)affirmed the SBOE's decision that Qwest was entitled to a refund, but concluded the SBOE erred by considering Qwest's evidence, which was not produced to the DOR during the audit; and (2) remanded so the refund amount could be calculated using an estimate procedure and information available during the audit.