Justia Texas Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Tax Law
Willacy County Appraisal District v. Sebastian Cotton & Grain, Ltd.
In this property-tax dispute regarding ownership of tangible personal property, the Supreme Court held (1) when, as in this case, an ownership correction to an appraisal roll does not increase the amount of property taxes owed for subject property in the year of the correction, an appraisal district’s chief appraiser has statutory authority under Tex. Code Ann. Prop. 25.25(b) to make such a correction even when the correction necessarily alters the taxing units’ expectation of who is liable for payment of property taxes; (2) an agreement under Tex. Code Ann. Prop. 1.111(e) may be rendered voidable if it is proven that it was induced by fraud; and (3) a purported owner challenging ownership on the appraisal roll is not entitled to attorney’s fees under Tex. Code Ann. Prop. 42.29. Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals ruling that Willacy County Appraisal District lacked authority to change a property ownership determination under section 25.25(b), without reaching the issue of whether a section 1.111(e) agreement may be voided if it was induced by fraud, and remanding the case for a determination of attorney’s fees consistent with section 42.29. The Supreme Court remanded the case to the court of appeals for further proceedings. View "Willacy County Appraisal District v. Sebastian Cotton & Grain, Ltd." on Justia Law
EXLP Leasing, LLC v. Galveston Central Appraisal District
Galveston County failed to rebut the presumed constitutionality of a statutory formula determining the taxable value of leased natural-gas compressors located in its jurisdiction. Further, Washington County was the taxable situs for the compressors. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals, which held that the parties failed to produce summary judgment evidence demonstrating, as a matter of law, that the statutory formula was either a reasonable or an unreasonable method of calculating the compressors’ reasonable market value. The court of appeals also held that Galveston County was the taxable situs of the compressors. The Supreme Court held (1) the court of appeals erred by not rendering judgment that the County failed to rebut the presumed constitutionality of the valuation statutes; and (2) the legislature’s statutory taxation scheme sets situs in the county where the dealer does business, and therefore, Washington County was the proper taxable situs for the compressors. View "EXLP Leasing, LLC v. Galveston Central Appraisal District" on Justia Law
Graphic Packaging Corp. v. Hegar
A taxpayer that conducts business in multiple states must apportion its business revenue among the states in which it does business. Texas Tax Code section 171.106 provides for such apportionment under a single-factor formula, which compares the taxpayer’s gross receipts derived from its Texas business to its gross receipts everywhere. Section 141.001, however, adopts the Multistate Tax Compact, which sets out a three-factor formula for apportioning“business income” for an“income tax” and provides that a taxpayer subject to a state income tax may elect to apportion its income “in the manner provided by the laws of such state” or may elect to apportion using the Compact’s three-factor formula. The appeals court affirmed the trial court’s summary judgment, holding that apportionment of the Texas franchise tax is exclusively the province of chapter 171. The Supreme Court of Texas affirmed. Section 171.106 provides the exclusive formula for apportioning the franchise tax and, by its terms, precludes the taxpayer from using the Compact’s three-factor formula.The Compact is severable and contains no unmistakable language waiving the state’s exercise of the sovereign tax power. Nothing in the Compact expressly prohibits the states from adopting an exclusive apportionment method that overrides the Compact’s formula. View "Graphic Packaging Corp. v. Hegar" on Justia Law
Etc Marketing, Ltd. v. Harris County Appraisal District
At issue in this case was whether the Commerce Clause’s limitations on a state’s power to tax interstate commerce bar property taxes levied on natural gas held in Texas without a destination while awaiting future resale and shipment to out-of-state customers. The court of appeals found the tax in this case valid. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a nondiscriminatory tax on surplus gas held for future resale does not violate the Commerce Clause; and (2) the tax levied in this case withstands constitutional scrutiny, and because it does not violate the Commerce Clause, neither does it violate Tex. Tax Code 11.12, which provides a state-law exemption for taxes that would otherwise violate federal law. View "Etc Marketing, Ltd. v. Harris County Appraisal District" on Justia Law
Southwest Royalties, Inc. v. Hegar
Southwest Royalties, Inc, an oil and gas exploration company, filed a tax refund claim with the Comptroller asserting that its purchases of casing, tubing, other well equipment, and associated services were exempt from sales taxes under a statutory exemption. The Comptroller denied relief. In response, Southwest sued the Comptroller and the Attorney General. After a bench trial, the trial court rendered judgment for the State, concluding that Southwest failed to meet its burden of proving the exemption applied. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Southwest was not entitled an exemption from paying sales taxes on purchases of the equipment. View "Southwest Royalties, Inc. v. Hegar" on Justia Law
Southwest Royalties, Inc. v. Hegar
Southwest Royalties, Inc., an oil and gas exploration company, filed a tax refund claim with the Comptroller, arguing that it was entitled to a tax exemption for some of its equipment related to oil and gas production operations such as casing, tubing, and pumps, together with associated services. The Comptroller denied relief. Southwest subsequently sued the Comptroller and the Attorney General, asserting that the equipment for which it sought refunds was used in separating oil, gas, and associated substances (collectively, hydrocarbons) into their different components. The trial court rendered judgment for the State, concluding that Southwest failed to meet its burden of proving that the exemption applied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Southwest was not entitled to an exemption from paying sales taxes on purchases of the equipment because it did not prove that the equipment for which it sought a tax exemption was used in “actual manufacturing, processing, or fabricating” of hydrocarbons within the meaning of Tex. Tax Code Ann. 151.318(2), (5), or (10). View "Southwest Royalties, Inc. v. Hegar" on Justia Law
Hallmark Marketing Co., LLC v. Hegar
The Texas Tax Code provides that “only the net gain” from the sale of investments should be included in a key component of the statutory franchise-tax formula. In implementing Texas’ statutory franchise-tax liability scheme, the state comptroller adopted a rule requiring businesses to include net gains or net losses. Hallmark Marketing Company filed a franchise-tax protest suit against the state comptroller seeking a refund of more than $200,000 in taxes it paid, arguing that the comptroller’s rule conflicts with the very statute it purports to enforce. The trial court and court of appeals ruled in favor of the comptroller. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Tex. Tax Code 171.105(b) does not require Hallmark to include a net loss from the sale of investments. Remanded. View "Hallmark Marketing Co., LLC v. Hegar" on Justia Law
Posted in: Tax Law
Tex. Student Housing Auth. v. Brazos County Appraisal Dist.
The Texas Student Housing Authority (TSHA) had title to the Cambridge at College Station, a student-residential facility near two college campuses. In the summers of 2005 to 2008, TSHA provided lodging at the Cambridge to non-college students attending university-sponsored instructional programs. The Brazos County Appraisal District (BCAD) voided TSHA’s property-tax-exempt status for the years 2005 to 2008 and assessed millions of dollars of back taxes. The trial court affirmed, concluding that TSHA forfeited the exemption once the Cambridge hosted people who were not students, faculty or staff members of an institution of higher learning. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that TSHA did not forfeit its exemption under Tex. Educ. Code Ann. 53.46 by housing summer program participants at the Cambridge because the statute imposes no conditions but rather declares the property-tax exemption in absolute terms. View "Tex. Student Housing Auth. v. Brazos County Appraisal Dist." on Justia Law
Galveston Cent. Appraisal Dist. v. TRQ Captain’s Landing
A Foundation, a nonprofit corporation, completely controlled an LLC, which owned and controlled a LP, which owned apartments. The Foundation was a community housing development organization (CHDO), but the LLC and LP were not. The day the LLC acquired the LP, it applied for a tax exemption under Tex. Tax Code Ann. 11.182, which provides exemptions for properties that a CHDO owns. The Galveston Central Appraisal District denied the exemption because the LLC did not own the property. The Foundation and the LP then sued for a declaration that they were entitled to the exemption. The trial court granted summary judgment for the District. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that a CHDO’s equitable ownership of property qualifies for an exemption under section 11.182(b) and that Plaintiffs’ application for an exemption was timely. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) under AHF-Arbors at Huntsville I, LLC v. Walker County Appraisal District, equitable title to property was sufficient for the CHDO in this case to qualify for the tax exemption under section 11.182; and (2) The Foundation’s application was timely. View "Galveston Cent. Appraisal Dist. v. TRQ Captain’s Landing" on Justia Law
Posted in: Tax Law
Combs v. Health Care Servs. Corp.
A government contractor (HCSC) contracted with the federal government to administer two health insurance programs. HCSC incurred expenses while performing the contracts that were reimbursed by the government. After the Comptroller denied HCSC's request for a refund for some of the sales and use taxes it paid on the expenses, HCSC brought tax-refund suits, claiming the purchases it made to administer the health-insurance programs qualified for the Tax Code's sale-for-resale exemption, which grants purchasers of taxable goods and services a sales-tax exemption if they resell the items. The lower courts determined HCSC was entitled to the claimed refunds. The Supreme Court affirmed on all but one issue, holding (1) the exemption applied to HCSC's requested refunds for tangible personal property and taxable services; but (2) the exemption did not apply to HCSC's requested refunds for leases of tangible of personal property. Remanded. View "Combs v. Health Care Servs. Corp." on Justia Law