Justia Tax Law Opinion Summaries

by
G4, LLC, entered into a lease in 2009 with the City of Picayune, Mississippi, for land on the grounds of the Picayune Municipal Airport. After the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors assessed ad valorem taxes on the leased land, G4 paid the taxes under protest and petitioned the Board for a refund and for a refund of taxes it had paid on lots in the Tin Hill subdivision. The Board denied G4’s petition, and G4 appealed to the Circuit Court of Pearl River County, which affirmed. G4 appealed, asserting that, according to the Mississippi Supreme Court’s decision in Rankin County Board of Supervisors v. Lakeland Income Properties, LLC, 241 So. 3d 1279 (Miss. 2018), it was automatically exempt from paying ad valorem taxes on the airport property. The Supreme Court agreed, reversed and remanded the circuit court’s decision that affirmed the Board’s refusal to refund the airport property taxes. The Court affirmed the circuit court’s decision that G4 was not entitled to a refund of taxes paid on the Tin Hill subdivision lots. View "G4, LLC v. Pearl River County Board of Supervisors" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Plaintiff's illegal exaction suit against the City of Blytheville and its Sewer Department (collectively, the City), holding that the circuit court properly granted summary judgment. In her complaint, Plaintiff claimed that a $5 fee for sewer system repairs and upgrades, imposed pursuant to a city ordinance, was a tax and constituted an illegal exaction in violation of article 16, section 13 of the Arkansas Constitution. The circuit court granted the City's motion for summary judgment and dismissed all of Plaintiff's claims with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court correctly found that the fee was not a tax and, therefore, not an illegal exaction. View "Watson v. City of Blytheville" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the determination of the board of tax appeals (BTA) of the 2015 tax year value of an apartment complex located in Franklin County, holding that the BTA's decision was reasonable and lawful. At issue was whether the BTA erred in deciding that the sale price paid for the transfer of ownership of a corporate entity, Palmer House Borrower, LLC (Palmer) should be presumed to constitute the value of the real estate owned by that entity. Palmer further asserted that the BTA improperly admitted and relied upon the submitted evidence of the transfer and sale. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the BTA reasonably considered the sale and conveyance documentation; (2) the BTA reasonably determined that the transaction was, in substance, a sale of the real estate; (3) the appraisal offered by Palmer was not the only evidence of value; and (4) Palmer did not show that the BTA's decision violated Ohio Const. art. XII, 2. View "Columbus City Schools Board of Education v. Franklin County Board of Revision" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the Appellate Tax Board (the Board) upholding sales tax assessments for fees charged for subscriptions to use online software products, holding that the subscription fees were subject to sales tax. Appellant sold subscriptions for three online software products. The Commissioner of Revenue determined that Appellant's subscription fees constituted sales of software subject to sales tax and assessed sales tax against Appellant for the taxable periods April 2007 through June 2009 and October 2009 through December 2011. The Board upheld the sales tax assessments. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that receipts from sales of subscriptions for the online software products were subject to Massachusetts sales tax. View "Citrix Systems, Inc. v. Commissioner of Revenue" on Justia Law

by
Walter and Mary Van Riper transferred ownership of their marital home to a single irrevocable trust. Walter passed away shortly after transfer of the property to the trust. Six years later, after Mary passed away, the trustee distributed the property to the couple’s niece. In this appeal, the issue presented for the New Jersey Supreme Court was whether the New Jersey Division of Taxation (Division) properly taxed the full value of the home at the time of Mary’s death. Walter and Mary directed that, if sold, all proceeds from the sale of their residence would be held in trust for their benefit and would be utilized to provide housing and shelter during their lives. Walter died nineteen days after the creation of the Trust. Mary died six years later, still living in the marital residence. Mary’s inheritance tax return reported one-half of the date-of-death value of the marital residence as taxable. However, the Division conducted an audit and imposed a transfer inheritance tax assessment based upon the entire value of the residence at the time of Mary’s death. Mary’s estate paid the tax assessed but filed an administrative protest challenging the transfer inheritance tax assessment. The Division issued its final determination that the full fair market value of the marital residence held by the Trust should be included in Mary’s taxable estate for transfer inheritance tax purposes. The Appellate Division affirmed the Tax Court’s conclusion, rejecting the estate’s argument that transfer inheritance tax should only be assessed on Mary’s undivided one-half interest in the residence. The Supreme Court agreed with both the Tax Court and the Appellate Division that the Division properly taxed the entirety of the residence when both life interests were extinguished, and the remainder was transferred to Marita. The property’s transfer, in its entirety, took place “at or after” Mary’s death, and was appropriately taxed at its full value at that time. “In light of the estate-planning mechanism used here, any other holding would introduce an intolerable measure of speculation and uncertainty in an area of law in which clarity, simplicity, and ease of implementation are paramount.” View "Estate of Mary Van Riper v. Director, Division of Taxation" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the board of tax appeals (BTA), holding that Cleveland's taxation of Appellant's employment compensation in 2014 and 2015 was required under municipal law and did not violate Appellant's due process rights, despite the fact that Appellant did not work or live in the city of Cleveland during the tax years at issue. Appellant was employed by the Sherwin-Williams Company from 1980 until she retired in 2009 and moved to Florida. Sherwin-Williams compensated Appellant, in part, with stock options during her employment. Appellant exercised some of those options in 2014 and 2015, and Cleveland collected income tax on their value. Appellant sought refunds from the city based on the fact that she resided in Florida during the tax years at issue. Cleveland Board of Income Tax Review denied the refunds, and the BTA affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant's arguments challenging the taxation failed. View "Willacy v. Cleveland Board of Income Tax Review" on Justia Law

by
The Louisiana Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whether the lower courts correctly ruled an online marketplace was obligated as a "dealer" under La. R.S. 47:301(4)(l) and/or by contract to collect sales tax on the property sold by third party retailers through the marketplace’s website. Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC (“Wal-Mart.com”) operated an online marketplace at which website visitors could buy products from Wal-Mart.com or third party retailers. From 2009 through 2015, Wal-Mart.com reported its online sales in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana of its products and remitted the required sales tax to the Louisiana Department of Revenue and ex-officio tax collector, then Sheriff Newell Normand (Tax Collector). The reported sales amount did not include proceeds from online sales made by third party retailers through Wal-Mart.com’s marketplace. Following an attempted audit for this period, Tax Collector filed a “Rule for Taxes” alleging Wal-Mart.com “engaged in the business of selling, and sold tangible personal property at retail as a dealer in the Parish of Jefferson,” but had “failed to collect, and remit . . . local sales taxes from its customers for transactions subject to Jefferson Parish sales taxation.” In addition, Tax Collector alleged that an audit of Wal-Mart.com’s sales transactions was attempted, but Wal-Mart.com “refused to provide [Tax Collector] with complete information and records” of Jefferson Parish sales transactions, particularly, those conducted on behalf of third party retailers. In connection with online marketplace sales by third party retailers, Tax Collector sought an estimated $1,896,882.15 in unpaid sales tax, interest, penalties, audit fees, and attorney fees. The Supreme Court determined an online marketplace was not a “dealer” under La. R.S. 47:301(4)(l) for sales made by third party retailers through its website and because the online marketplace did not contractually assume the statutory obligation of the actual dealers (the third party retailers), the judgment of the trial court and the decision of the court of appeal were reversed and vacated. View "Normand v. Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the tax court reducing Hennepin County's valuation of a Lowe's store in Plymouth, Minnesota for the 2015 tax year, holding that the tax court did not inflate the property's fair market value and did not violate Lowe's due process rights. Lowe's petitioned the tax court asserting that Hennepin County's assessment for the 2015 tax year overstated the fair market value of the property. The tax court agreed and reduced the County's valuation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the tax court did not violate Lowe's due process rights by failing to rely on evidence in the record in reaching its conclusions; and (2) because the record supported the tax court's decision to place greater weight on the cost approach rather than on the sales approach and its adjustments under both approaches, the tax court did not violate Lowe's due process rights. View "Lowe's Home Centers, LLC (Plymouth) v. County of Hennepin" on Justia Law

by
Before 2008, Cook County ordinances required the Assessor to assess single-family residential property at 16%, commercial property at 38%, and industrial property at 36% of the market value. In 2000-2008, the Assessor actually assessed most property at rates significantly lower than the ordinance rates. In 2008, the Assessor proposed to “recalibrate” the system. The plaintiffs claim that their assessment rates may have been lawful but were significantly higher than the actual rates for most other property owners and that they paid millions of dollars more in taxes in 2000-2008 than they would have if they were assessed at the de facto rates. The taxpayers exhausted their remedies with the Board of Review, then filed suit in state court, citing the Equal Protection Clause, Illinois statutory law and the Illinois Constitution. Years later, their state suit remains in discovery. Claiming that Illinois law limits whom they can name as a defendant, what evidence they can present, and what arguments they can raise, the taxpayers filed suit in federal district court, which held that the Tax Injunction Act barred the suit. The Act provides that district courts may not “enjoin, suspend or restrain the assessment, levy or collection of any tax under State law where a plain, speedy and efficient remedy may be had in the courts of such State,” 28 U.S.C. 1341. The Seventh Circuit reversed, noting the County’s concession that Illinois’s tax-objection procedures do not allow the taxpayers to raise their constitutional claims in state court. This is the “rare case in which taxpayers lack an adequate state-court remedy.” View "A.F. Moore & Associates, Inc. v. Pappas" on Justia Law

by
Lowe's Home Centers sought reimbursement of state sales taxes and Business and Occupation ("B&O") taxes from the Washington Department of Revenue ("DOR") because it contracted with banks to offer private-label credit cards to its customers, and agreed to repay the banks for losses it sustained when customers defaulted on their accounts. RCW 82.08.050 provided that a seller must collect and remit sales taxes to the State; for sellers unable to recoup sales taxes from buyers, RCW 82.08.037(1) provided that sellers could claim a deduction "for sales taxes previously paid on bad debts." In a split decision, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's denial of reimbursement. After its review, the Washington Supreme Court held that although banks were involved in the credit transaction, Lowe's was still the seller burdened with the loss from its customers' defaults, including their nonpayment of the sales taxes. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals. View "Lowe's Home Ctrs., LLC v. Dep't of Revenue" on Justia Law