Justia Oklahoma Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Tax Law
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Appellants Homesales, Inc., JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., and Jason L. Howell, appealed the district court's order certifying this case as a class action at the request of Appellee Marshall County. This case centered on the Documentary Stamp Tax Act, and its applicability to a sheriff's deed granted to Homesales in a mortgage foreclosure action prosecuted by JPMorgan. Homesales claimed that the transaction was exempt from documentary tax. The County disagreed and sued to collect the tax it claimed was due. The County also moved to certify the case as a class action in which all Oklahoma counties would join as plaintiffs. The district court granted the County's motion and certified the case pursuant to Title 12 O.S. Supp. 2013 sec. 2023 (B)(3) and the defendants appealed. Because the County was precluded by the Oklahoma Supreme Court's holding in "Murray Cnty. v. Homesales, Inc.," (330 P.3d 519) from suing to collect unpaid taxes allegedly due pursuant to the DSTA, the district court's class certification order was reversed and this case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Marshall County v. Homesales, Inc." on Justia Law

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This appeal was the second appeal in a dispute between Taxpayer-appellant J. Clark Bundren, M.D. and appellees City of Tulsa and Tulsa Hills, LLC. The two issues in that case were: (1) whether Taxpayer should have been allowed to intervene in a declaratory judgment proceeding to determine the legality of certain public expenditures and financing; and (2) whether the appeal was moot because the appellees, Tulsa Industrial Authority, City of Tulsa Oklahoma, and Tulsa Hills, L.L.C. (TIA, City, and TH, respectively), obtained a declaratory judgment after Taxpayer was prohibited by the trial court from intervening. The Supreme Court denied the motion to dismiss the appeal for mootness and held that Taxpayer's claim for equitable relief presented by a motion to intervene was not made moot by the judgment rendered during the appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's order that denied Taxpayer's motion to intervene as a qui tam plaintiff, but reversed the trial court's order denying a motion to intervene in which Taxpayer sought equitable relief. The case what then remanded for further proceedings. On remand, the trial court ordered Taxpayer to file his "Petition in Intervention" on or before August 16, 2012. On August 15, 2012, Taxpayer complied with the order by filing the petition. On September 14, 2012, the appellees each filed separate motions to dismiss, and asserted that the bondholders were necessary parties. Several months later, the trial court granted the motions to dismiss and allowed Taxpayer twenty days to file an amended petition. The court included the requirement that if Taxpayer filed an amended petition seeking to enjoin the City from making payments to the bondholders who purchased the bonds used to finance the underlying transaction, then the Taxpayer must provide notice of the amended petition to the bondholders and file proof of such notice with the court. Taxpayer filed an amended petition, and the appellees responded with separate motions to dismiss. The trial court again dismissed Taxpayer's petition on the basis that Taxpayer did not provide notice to bondholders as necessary parties to the lawsuit, and that Taxpayer did not state a claim on which relief could be granted. The trial court found that the bondholders were necessary parties to the action and if not joined, the present parties to the action would face a substantial risk of incurring multiple and potentially inconsistent obligations. The court again dismissed without prejudice the causes of action for declaratory and injunctive relief for failure to comply with the court's prior order and for failure to join all parties necessary "to a just adjudication of this matter." The court allowed Taxpayer twenty days to file an amended petition, and ordered that if Taxpayer did not amend the petition within that time, the action would be dismissed with prejudice to all the claims. Instead of amending the petition, Taxpayer filed an Application to Assume Original Jurisdiction and Petition for Writ of Prohibition and Mandamus to the Supreme Court. The trial court entered a final order of dismissal. The dispositive issue of this matter was whether Taxpayer had to include bondholders as necessary parties to this case. The Supreme Court concluded he did, and affirmed the trial court. View "Tulsa Industrial Authority v. City of Tulsa" on Justia Law

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The Tulsa County Assessor assessed ad valorem taxes on portions of real property owned by the respondent-appellees (and taxpayers) William Warren Medical Research Center and Montereau, Inc. The taxpayers challenged the assessment and the County Board of Equalization determined that the properties were not taxable. The Assessor appealed to the Tulsa County District Court which found in favor of the taxpayers. The Assessor again appealed but the Court of Civil Appeals dismissed the appeal because the Assessor was not represented by the district attorney, nor the State Attorney General. On certiorari, the Supreme Court held that county assessors may employ counsel to represent them in court proceedings including appeals from the Board of Equalization. Accordingly, the Court remanded the matter to the Court of Civil Appeals to address the merits of the appeal. View "Yazel v. William K. Warren Medical Research Center" on Justia Law

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In this appeal, the issue this case presented to the Supreme Court was whether a transfer of real property between affiliated business entities constituted a "sale" for purposes of the Documentary Stamp Tax Act. Defendants Homesales, Inc., JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. and EMC Mortgage, LLC, f/k/a EMC Mortgage Corporation appealed an order granting partial summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs Murray County, Oklahoma, County Commissioners ex rel. Murray County, Oklahoma and Johnston County, Oklahoma, County Commissioners ex rel. Johnston County, Oklahoma (the Counties). Chase filed four foreclosure cases and was the successful bidder at each sheriff's sale. Therefore, Chase was entitled to a sheriff's deed to each of the properties. However, Chase did not take title. Instead, sheriff's deeds were granted to Chase's affiliated entities. The deeds were recorded with the respective county clerks. The grantees noted on the conveyances that the deeds were exempt from documentary taxes. No documentary taxes were paid. The Counties contended the conveyances involved in this case were not exempt and filed suit to collect the applicable documentary taxes. The district court granted partial summary judgment to the Counties finding that the conveyances were not exempt from the DSTA, and that the Counties could sue to enforce the provisions of the DSTA and collect the documentary taxes that were not paid on these transactions. The Supreme Court, however, concluded that the Counties were not authorized to prosecute violations of the DSTA. The Counties did have standing to challenge the exemptions from the documentary tax claimed for these conveyances. The Court reversed the order granting partial summary judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Murray County v. Homesales, Inc." on Justia Law

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Appellant CDR Systems Corporation entered into a stock purchase agreement to sell all of its assets. In August 2009, CDR filed its 2008 Oklahoma Small Business Corporation Income Tax Return and claimed the Oklahoma Capital Gains Deduction for gains received from the sale. The Oklahoma Tax Commission denied the deduction claimed by CDR because CDR was not headquartered in Oklahoma for three years prior to the sale as required by state law. The Court of Civil Appeals reversed and found the deduction violated the dormant commerce clause. Upon review, the Supreme Court found there was no discrimination against interstate commerce to which the dormant commerce clause applied. Furthermore, the Court held that even if the dormant commerce clause applied in this case, the deduction did not facially discriminate against interstate commerce, it did not have a discriminatory purpose, and the deduction had no discriminatory effect on interstate commerce. View "CDR Systems Corp. v. Oklahoma Tax Comm'n" on Justia Law

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The Tulsa County Assessor's office assessed ad valorem taxes on the Shadybrook Apartment Complex for the years 2004, 2005, and 2006. Shadybrook, under protest, timely paid the taxes each year, but appealed the Assessor's valuation to the Tulsa County Board of Tax Roll Corrections and the Tulsa County Board of Equalization. After receiving unfavorable decisions, Shadybrook appealed to the district court. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Shadybrook, determining that Shadybrook qualified for an exemption from ad valorem taxation pursuant to the Oklahoma Constitution, Article 10, sec. 6A. The Assessor appealed. On the first appeal in this case, the appellate court upheld the trial court's ruling in part but reversed and remanded with instructions to the trial court to determine whether Shadybrook's use of the property was for charitable purposes under Article 10, sec. 6A so as to overcome the Supreme Court's ruling in "London Square Village v. Oklahoma County Equalization and Excise Board." Neither party petitioned the Supreme Court for certiorari based on that opinion. On remand, the trial court found in favor of Shadybrook and the Assessor appealed. The Supreme Court retained the appeal. After further review, the Supreme Court held that Shadybrook's operation of the low-income housing complex was a charitable use under the constitutional ad valorem tax exemption in Article 10, sec. 6A of the Oklahoma Constitution. The statutory language in 68 O.S. 2004 sec. 2887(8)(a)(2)(b) excluding property funded with proceeds from the sale of federally tax-exempt bonds from ad valorem exemption is unconstitutional. The Court overruled "London Square Village."View "AOF/Shadybrook Affordable Housing Corp. v. Yazel" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant Ada Electric Cars, LLC filed suit against Defendants-Appellees Thomas Kemp Jr., Jerry Johnson, Dawn Cash, and Rick Miller, members of the Oklahoma Tax Commission (OTC), in their individual capacities, in response to the OTC's denial of a statutory tax credit for certain models of Tomberlin low-speed electric vehicles (LSVs) sold by the Appellant to its customers. The statutory tax credit provided for a one-time credit against income tax for investments in qualified electric motor vehicle property. The dispositive issue presented to the Supreme Court was whether Appellees were entitled to qualified immunity from suit for their determination that LSVs sold by Appellant did not qualify for the tax credit. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that Defendants did qualify for immunity, and affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "Ada Electric Cars, LLC v. Kemp" on Justia Law

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The Oklahoma Tax Commission appealed a ruling by the District Court of Grady County which found a decedent's outstanding 1978-1985 income tax liability was barred from collection through Decedent's probate case. The trial court's ruling was based on the ten-year limitation imposed by 68 O.S. 2001 section 223(A). The Court of Civil Appeals reversed, concluding the statute operated as a statute of limitations and did not violate the Oklahoma Constitution. The Court also found that the Oklahoma probate code required satisfaction of the tax debt before distribution of the estate assets. The decedent's estate appealed that ruling. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the appellate court correctly held that 68 O.S. 2001 section 223(A) was a statute of limitations and did not extinguish an underlying debt to the state in violation of the Oklahoma Constitution. However, the Court concluded that neither 58 O.S. 2001 section 591 nor 58 O.S. 2001 section 635 of the probate code require payment of a debt otherwise barred by the statute of limitations. View "In the matter of the Estate of Bell-Levine" on Justia Law

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In 2010, the Oklahoma Legislature amended the Oklahoma Tax Code to require municipalities to contract with the State of Oklahoma through the Oklahoma Tax Commission to assess, collect and enforce municipal taxes. Prior to the amendment becoming effective, the City of Tulsa contracted with a private company to collect municipal taxes. On August 19, 2010, Tulsa filed a petition for declaratory judgment in the District Court of Oklahoma County to challenge the statute's constitutionality. The trial court found the statute unconstitutional. The State appealed and the Supreme Court granted certiorari. Upon review, the Court held that the amendments requiring the Commission to collect municipal sales and use taxes do not unconstitutionally impair Tulsa's obligation of contracts or infringe its inherent powers granted by the Constitution or the City's charter. View "City of Tulsa v. Oklahoma" on Justia Law

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The Oklahoma Tax Commission assessed corporate income taxes against Vermont Corporation Scioto Insurance Company for 2001 through 2005, based on payments Scioto received from the use of Scioto's intellectual property by Wendy's restaurants in Oklahoma. In response, Scioto protested these assessments on the ground that it did not contract with the Wendy's restaurants in Oklahoma for use of the property in question and did not conduct any business whatsoever in Oklahoma. The Tax Commission denied Scioto's protest and the Court of Civil Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court previously granted certiorari. Upon review, the Court vacated the Court of Civil Appeals opinion, reversed the Tax Commission's denial of Scioto's protest and remanded the case with instructions to sustain Scioto's protest. View "In re Income Tax Protest of Scioto Ins. Co." on Justia Law