Justia Tax Law Opinion Summaries

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Condominium owners alleged that a sewer service charge collected by Napa Sanitation District consists of a “capacity fee” and a “use fee” and that the latter was an unlawful tax. A challenge to the capacity fee was barred by a 120-day limitations period, Government Code 66022 Although the complaint expressly did not attack the capacity fee, the District argued that the ordinances authorizing the sewer service charge are inseverable, so the court would have to invalidate the entire charge if the plaintiffs prevailed. The trial court dismissed the suit.The court of appeal reversed. It was premature for the trial court to decide the issue of severability. The severability doctrine is intended to determine the scope of the remedy after a legal infirmity in the ordinance has been established; a finding of in-severability would not alter the nature of the claim or the underlying rights. Even if severability principles would require the invalidation of the entire sewer service charge, the District, rather than the plaintiffs, would bear the consequence of its decision to draft the ordinances that way. Severability is a shield by which a legislative body can preserve parts of its law that are not implicated by a valid legal claim, not a sword to preclude that claim, View "Raja Development Co., Inc. v. Napa Sanitary District" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Administrative Hearing Commission that Saddle and Sirloin Club of Kansas City was not entitled to a refund of sales tax on monthly membership dues paid by Club members because the dues were fees paid to a place of amusement, entertainment, or recreation pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 144.021.1, holding that the Club was not owed a refund.On appeal, the Club argued that the monthly membership dues were not subject to sales tax because, in addition to recreation services, Club members received the right to participate in the operation and control of the Club and an increase in the value of their equitable interests in the Club. The Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed, holding (1) the Club failed to meet its burden of proving that members receive more than recreational services in exchange for monthly membership dues; and (2) therefore, the monthly membership dues were subject to sales tax pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 144.020.1(2). View "Saddle & Sirloin Club of Kansas City v. Director of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the administrative hearing commission (AHC) denying the complaint brought by Plaintiff, as personal representative of the estate of James Townsend, that the director of the department of revenue was not authorized to assess unpaid sales tax owed by Green Duck Lounge, Inc. against Townsend as a responsible party under Mo. Rev. Stat. 144.157.3, holding that the AHC's decision was authorized by law.On appeal, Plaintiff argued, among other things, that a prior judgment denying the department's attempt to collect the company's unpaid sales tax from Townsend's estate was res judicata, barring the director's assessment of the unpaid sales tax against Townsend personally. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the AHC did not err in finding that res judicata did not bar the director's assessment against Townsend, personally, as a responsible party; and (2) neither Mo. Rev. Stat. 144.220.3 nor section 144.157.3 required the director to mail notice of his intent to make an assessment against Townsend, as a responsible party, within years after the company's returns were filed. View "LaBlanche v. Director of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The issue this appeal presented for the Tenth Circuit's review centered on the denial of tax benefits relating to petitioner Preston Olsen's purchase of solar lenses. The benefits were only available if the taxpayer had a profit motive for the purchases. Olsen bought the lenses in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014, through a program created by Neldon Johnson. Under the program, Johnson would use the lenses in a new system to generate electricity by heating a liquid to generate steam and drive a turbine. Johnson never finished the system; he had completed the lenses on only one tower and hadn’t decided whether those lenses would heat water, oil, or molten salt. Johnson funded the program through investors like Olsen who bought lenses from Johnson’s companies and leased the lenses to another of Johnson’s companies. Once the system began producing revenue, Johnson's company would pay Olsen’s company $150 per lens per year. But the system never generated any revenue. From 2009 to 2014, Olsen annually claimed depreciation deductions and solar energy credits on the lenses. These claims allowed the Olsens to pay little or no federal income taxes. "So the Olsens came out ahead even though they had never obtained any money from the leases." The tax court disallowed the benefits in part because it found Petitioner lacked a profit motive. Finding no reversible error in the tax court's decision, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Olsen, et al. v. CIR" on Justia Law

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From 1986-1991, Weiss did not pay federal income taxes. In 1994, Weiss late-filed returns for those years, self-reporting a $299,202 liability. The IRS made tax assessments against him, triggering a 10-year limitations period for collecting unpaid taxes through a court proceeding or a levy. Weiss’s subsequent bankruptcies tolled that limitations period three times: In July 2009, the IRS began the process of a levy. It mailed a Final Notice to Weiss in February 2009, informing Weiss that it intended to levy his unpaid taxes and that he could request a Collection Due Process hearing. The notice was not sufficient to make a levy, so the limitations period continued to run. Weiss timely requested a Collection Due Process hearing, which suspended the statute of limitations for the period during which the hearing “and appeals therein” were “pending,” 26 U.S.C. 6330(e)(1); no less than 129 days remained in the limitations period. Weiss did not prevail at the hearing or in any of his review-as-of-right federal court challenges. As a last resort, Weiss filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court in October 2018. On December 3, 2018, the Court denied that petition. Instead of proceeding to levy Weiss’s property, the government initiated an action in the district court on February 5, 2019.The Third Circuit found the action timely. Petitions for writs of certiorari are “appeals therein.” An appeal remains “pending” until the time to file such a petition expires. View "United States v. Weiss" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC) affirming the decision of the Lancaster County Board of Equalization affirming the valuations of the agricultural land owned by Mary and Brad Moser for the tax year 2020 but reversing the County Board's decisions for the 2018 and 2019 tax years, holding that TERC erred.For the tax years 2018 and 2019, TERC reduced the value of the Mosers' irrigated acres to equalize those acres with a nearby parcel of agricultural property. The Supreme Court (1) reversed TERC's decision to the extent it ordered that irrigated cropland on certain property be valued as drylands cropland for the 2018 and 2019 tax years, holding that TERC's conclusions as to this property was factually incorrect, was not supported by competent evidence, failed to conform to the law, and was unreasonable; and (2) otherwise affirmed, holding that there was no error was to the 2020 tax year valuation. View "Lancaster County Bd. of Equalization v. Moser" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the appellate court affirming the judgment of the trial court in favor of the town of Hamden in this tax dispute, holding that the appellate court correctly determined that the word "submit" in Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-63c(a) unambiguously requires that an assessor receive income and expense forms by June 1.Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-63c(a) requires the owners of certain rental property to "submit" income and expense information to their municipal tax assessor "not later than the first day of June." Plaintiff in this case mailed the relevant information on May 31, 2016, but the assessor did not receive the forms until June 2, 2016. The assessor imposed a ten percent penalty on Plaintiff. Plaintiff brought this action alleging that the penalty was improper because its timely mailing was sufficient under the statute. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendant, and the appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the word "submit" requires receipt of the income and expense forms no later than June 1; and (2) the ten percent penalty imposed on Plaintiff pursuant to section 12-63(d) was valid. View "Seramonte Associates, LLC v. Town of Hamden" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court affirming the decision of the Wyoming State Board of Equalization (Board) affirming the tax assessment set forth by the Wyoming Department of Revenue (DOR) imposing severance and ad valorem property taxes on the waste mine gas (WMG) captured and used by Solvay Chemicals, Inc., holding that there was no error.Solvay used the WMG released from its trona mining operations to help fuel its soda ash processing plant during the years 2012 through 2015. The DOR imposed severance and ad valorem taxes on the WMG during those years. Solvay objected, arguing that the WMG was not taxable under the severance or ad valorem tax statutes. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Solvay failed to show the DOA and DOR improperly valued the WMG for production years 2012-2015. View "Solvay Chemicals, Inc. v. Wyoming Dep't of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the State Board of Equalization affirming the decision of the Wyoming Department of Revenue disallowing a deduction of bagging costs from the taxable value of its bagged soda ash, holding that Solvay Chemicals, Inc. was not entitled to deduct bagging costs from the taxable value of soda ash.In 2013-2015, Solvay deducted its soda ash bagging costs from the taxable value of the bagged soda ash it sold. The Department determined that Wyo. Stat. Ann. 39-14-303(b) did not entitle Solvay to a separate deduction for bagging costs, and the Board and district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Board did not err in determining that the Department's interpretation of section 39-14-303(b)(ii) was not erroneous or contrary to the plain language of Wyo. Stat. Ann. 39-14-303(b)(iv). View "Solvay Chemicals, Inc. v. Wyoming Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Oklahoma Supreme Court retained this case to resolve a question of first impression on whether Production Tax Credits (PTCs) used to finance the building of a wind farm were "property" which could be used to determine the fair cash value of the wind farm for ad valorem taxation purposes. To this, the Court held PTCs were intangible personal property, and were not subject to ad valorem taxation pursuant to the Okla. Const. art. 10, §6 A. Because the trial court's findings regarding valuation were not otherwise against the weight of the evidence, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court. View "Kingfisher Wind, LLC v. Wehmuller" on Justia Law