Articles Posted in Tax Law

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Kohl’s Department Stores, Inc. entered into a license agreement with Kohl’s Illinois, Inc., an affiliate of Kohl’s that operates retail stores in select states, but not Virginia, for the use of intellectual property managed and licensed by Kohl’s Illinois. Kohl’s paid royalties to Kohl’s Illinois, and when calculating its federal taxable income, Kohl’s deducted these royalty payments from its income as an ordinary and necessary business expense. Kohl’s Illinois, however, did not pay state income taxes on a substantial portion of the royalties. Kohl’s claimed that the royalty payments fell within the “subject-to-tax” exception to the add back statute. The Virginia Department of Taxation auditor required that the untaxed portion be added back to Kohl’s taxable income and issued a notices of assessment to Kohl’s for certain taxable years. The circuit court affirmed, concluding that only the portion of the royalties that was actually taxed by another state fell within the subject-to-tax exception. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred by failing to hold that Kohl’s Illinois need not be the entity that pays the tax for the subject-to-tax exception to apply. Remanded for a determination of what portion of the royalty payments was actually taxed by another state and therefore excepted from the add back statute. View "Kohl's Department Stores, Inc. v. Virginia Department of Taxation" on Justia Law

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The Tax Commissioner of Virginia directed Chesterfield County to issue refunds to Verizon Online LLC for local taxes it paid for tax years 2008, 2009 and 2010 on set top boxes it owned. The circuit court upheld the Tax Commissioner’s determination that the set top boxes were not subject to local taxation but concluded that Verizon was not entitled to refunds for tax years 2008 and 2009 due to its failure to file a timely appeal with the local commissioner of revenue. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in ruling that Verizon’s set top boxes are not subject to local taxation; but (2) the issue of the timeliness of Verizon’s local appeal was not preserved for review by the circuit court, and therefore, the circuit court erred in ruling that Verizon was not entitled to refunds for tax years 2008 and 2009. View "Verizon Online LLC v. Horbal" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, two Arlington County taxpayers, challenged the County’s inclusion of transferrable development rights (TDRs) in their real estate assessment, arguing that the County had no authority assess and tax TDRs on their properties for tax years 2012 through 2015. The circuit court ruled in favor of the County. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the County may not tax TDRs under Va. Code 15.2-2316.2 unless it enacts an ordinance that conforms to the detailed requirements of that statute; and (2) the County lacks the authority to tax TDRs under section 15.2-750 and its ordinance until it has approved and accepted a site plan. View "Johnson v. Arlington County" on Justia Law

Posted in: Tax Law

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Western Refining Yorktown, Inc. was the owner of a refinery that was subject to the machinery and tools tax. Western challenged the Commissioner of Revenue’s 2010 and 2011 assessments in the circuit court. The trial court upheld the valuation of the refinery’s machinery and tools for purposes of levying the machinery and tools tax, concluding that Western did not carry its burden of proof to show that the property in question was valued at more than its fair market value. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in upholding the assessment; and (2) the County of York did not assume inconsistent positions in successive litigation. View "Western Refining Yorktown v. County of York" on Justia Law

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Miller & Rhoads Building, LLC (MRB) purchased a building that was subject to a city-wide real estate tax and an annual special district tax. MRB sought a partial exemption from real estate taxes for the property under the City of Richmond’s Tax Abatement for Rehabilitated Real Estate Program (the Partial Exemption). The City applied the Partial Exemption to the base real estate tax but refused to apply it to the special district tax. MRB paid the special district taxes under protest and brought an action to correct the alleged erroneous assessments. At issue at trial was whether the Partial Exemption also applied to the City’s computation of the special district tax. The trial court ruled in favor of the City, concluding that the Partial Exemption did not apply to the special district tax. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the special district tax, while a real estate tax, is a different type of real estate tax that is not subject to the Partial Exemption. View "Miller & Rhoads Bldg., LLC v. City of Richmond" on Justia Law

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Virginia Electric and Power Company (VEPCO) operated a gas-fired electric general station located in the City of Richmond. The City assessed tax for natural gas consumed at the station. VEPCO challenged the assessments, arguing that it was not subject to the tax. The Tax Commissioner affirmed the City’s decision that VEPCO was subject to the tax. VEPCO appealed, arguing that it was not subject to the tax because its consumption was outside the scope of Va. Code Ann. 58.1-3814(H). The circuit court concluded that VEPCO was not subject to the tax because it consumed natural gas at the station to generate electricity, rather than to furnish heat or light. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in its interpretation of section 58.1-3814(H). View "City of Richmond v. Va. Elec. & Power Co." on Justia Law

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A Suffolk developer set aside an Equestrian Center Parcel (ECP) for lease to a riding school and stable, with the stable to pay real estate taxes owed on the ECP. The lease expressly anticipated that ownership of the ECP would later be conveyed to a property owners’ association, which was subsequently organized. Although the stable could sell services to non-members, the lease required preferential treatment for Association members. The Association’s declaration included the ECP as Association’s property but noted that it was leased. The city began assessing real estate tax on the ECP in 2009. In 2012, the city exonerated the Association of liability for tax years ending in 2009, 2010, and 2011. The city again assessed tax on the ECP for tax years ending in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. No one paid the assessments. The city published notice that the ECP would be sold for non-payment of taxes. The Association sought a declaratory judgment that the ECP could not be directly assessed because, under Code 58.1-3284.1(A), any tax due was payable only by the Association’s individual members. The court ruled that the stable was a commercial enterprise and that the statute did not intend “open or common space” to include real estate used for commercial enterprises open to nonmembers of an owners’ association. The Supreme Court of Virginia reversed; nothing in the statutory definition excludes commercial property. Association members who did not board horses at the Stable used its picnic tables, trails, and parking area. View "Saddlebrook Estates v. City of Suffolk" on Justia Law

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The City of Fredericksburg brought suit against CVAS 2, LLC, which owns real estate within the City’s geographic area, seeking to have CVAS 2’s real estate sold in order to collect the LLC’s outstanding payments for delinquent real estate taxes and special assessments. The circuit court entered a decree of sale ordering that CVAS 2’s real estate be sold in gross to pay the delinquent taxes, penalties and special assessments. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the City did not strictly comply with Va. Code 15.2-5158 and 58.1-3965(A) allowing for it to bring suit under the circumstances, and therefore, the circuit court lacked authority to order the sale of CVAS 2’s real estate. View "CVAS 2, LLC v. City of Fredericksburg" on Justia Law

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In 2010, the Commissioner of Revenue of Arlington County (“County”) audited Nielsen for several of the previous tax years. Determining that Nielsen failed to pay sufficient tax on its business license, the County issued an additional tax assessment on Nielsen for the 2007 tax year. Nielsen appealed. The Virginia Tax Commissioner (“Commissioner”) concluded that the County had used an incorrect methodology in the 2007 tax year assessment and instead permitted a payroll percentage methodology to be used to calculate the deduction to the county tax on Nielsen’s business license. The County and the Commissioner appealed. The circuit court reversed the Commissioner’s decision and reinstated the County’s assessment, concluding that the Commissioner’s methodology for calculating the relevant tax deduction was contrary to law and arbitrary and capricious in its application. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Commissioner’s ruling was not contrary to law or arbitrary and capricious in application. Remanded. View "Nielsen County v. Bd. of Arlington County" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was a Project that provided for the design and construction of a new Midtown Tunnel. The Commonwealth Transportation Board affirmed the Project and specifically approved and ratified the imposition and collection of tolls on the Project as contemplated by a Comprehensive Agreement entered into by Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Elizabeth River Crossings OpCo, LLC (ERC). Plaintiff and other individuals filed a complaint against ERC and VDOT, alleging, inter alia, that the General Assembly, through its enactment of the Public-Private Transportation Act (PPTA), unconstitutionally delegated its power of taxation to VDOT and ERC in violation of the Virginia Constitution. The circuit court concluded that the General Assembly exceeded its authority in this case. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Project tolls were user fees and not taxes, and therefore, the General Assembly did not delegate its power of taxation to agencies such as VDOT in violation of the Virginia Constitution; (2) the General Assembly properly delegated to VDOT and ERC the legislative power to impose and set the rates of user fees in the form of tolls under the terms of the PPTA; and (3) the Comprehensive Agreement did not abridge the Commonwealth's police power. View "Elizabeth River Crossings OpCo, LLC v. Meeks" on Justia Law