Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Tax Law
Nutmeg Housing Development Corp. v. Colchester
Plaintiff, the owner of a parcel of land in the Town of Colchester, challenged the Town’s assessment of the property for the tax year 2011. The Colchester Board of Assessment Appeals upheld the Town’s original valuation. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the Town had used an improper method for valuing the property. The trial court upheld the Town’s original assessment, determining that Plaintiff had not established that it was aggrieved by the Town’s valuation because it found that Plaintiff’s expert was not credible. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the trial court applied the incorrect legal standard of valuation to the subject property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court’s determination that Plaintiff failed to establish aggrievement was not clearly erroneous, and the trial court properly rejected Plaintiff’s appeal. View "Nutmeg Housing Development Corp. v. Colchester" on Justia Law
Fairfield Merrittview Ltd. P’ship v. City of Norwalk
Plaintiffs, a partnership and an LLC, were related entities with common owners. The partnership acquired a commercial office complex and later transferred ownership of the property to the LLC. In 2008, the City of Norwalk’s tax assessor set the fair market value of the partnership at approximately $49 million. The trial court sustained Plaintiffs’ property tax appeal and reduced the valuation of the LLC’s property by approximately $15 million. The Appellate Court reversed, concluding that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ appeal because the LLC had not appeared in administrative proceedings before the City’s Board of Assessment Appeals and did not initiate the appeal to the trial court. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that although the tax appeal was initially brought by a nonaggrieved party, the partnership, the appeal was also maintained by the LLC, an aggrieved party that had properly been added to the trial court proceedings by way of a promptly filed amended complaint. View "Fairfield Merrittview Ltd. P’ship v. City of Norwalk" on Justia Law
Wheelabrator Bridgeport, L.P. v. Bridgeport
In 2009, Wheelabrator Bridgeport, L.P., which operates a waste to energy facility in the city of Bridgeport, appealed from the tax assessment of the City, alleging that the city had overvalued the property on the city’s 2007 and 2008 grand lists. In 2011, Wheelabrator and other plaintiffs filed a second appeal from the city’s tax assessment, alleging that the city had overvalued the property on the 2010 grand list. The two appeals were consolidated for purposes of trial. The trial court dismissed the first appeal for lack of standing and then rendered partial judgment in favor of Wheelabrator in the second appeal. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court improperly dismissed the first appeal; and (2) the trial court improperly valued the property in the second appeal and failed to consider evidence of the city’s wrongful conduct in the second appeal. Remanded for further proceedings in the first appeal and a new trial in the second appeal. View "Wheelabrator Bridgeport, L.P. v. Bridgeport" on Justia Law
Stratford v. Jacobelli
Plaintiff, the Town of Stratford, assessed hangars owned by Defendants and located at Sikorsky Memorial Airport as real property. When Defendants contested the classification of the hangars as real property instead of personal property, Plaintiff brought this action seeking a declaratory judgment that the hangars were properly classified as real property and were not exempt from taxation. The trial court ruled that the hangars were taxable as real property pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-64(a) and were not exempted pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-74. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly applied sections 12-64 and 12-74 to determine that the hangars were subject to municipal taxation. View "Stratford v. Jacobelli" on Justia Law
Posted in: Tax Law
Groton v. Comm’r of Revenue Servs.
Plaintiff, the Town of Groton, filed a tax appeal contesting the validity of a sales and use tax assessment issued by Defendant, the Commissioner of Revenue Services, in the amount of $240,653. The trial court dismissed the appeal. Plaintiff appealed, contending that the trial court improperly concluded that the fees collected for refuse removal services provided to industrial, commercial, or income producing real properties were subject to the sales tax. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court improperly determined that consideration existed to support Defendant’s assessment of Plaintiff for sales tax in connection with its revenue neutral program for the collection of refuse generated by commercial, industrial, or income producing real properties. View "Groton v. Comm’r of Revenue Servs." on Justia Law
Canton v. Cadle Props. of Conn., Inc.
After Defendant, the owner of real property in the Town of Canton, abandoned the subject property, the Town filed a petition seeking the appointment of a receiver of rents. The trial court, finding that Defendant owed the Town taxes, granted the petition and authorized the receiver to collect all rents or use and occupancy payments. The court subsequently modified its order to allow the receiver to evict the tenant and to bring an action against the tenant for all rents due. The tenant moved to remove the receiver, asserting that the receiver had exceeded its authority under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-163a by serving it with a notice to quit and by bring an action to collect back taxes and prior rents. The court denied the motion for removal. The Appellate Court (1) reversed insofar as the trial court granted the receiver’s motion to modify the receivership orders, but (2) affirmed insofar as it denied the tenant’s motion to remove the receiver. The Supreme Court (1) reversed as to the reversal of the trial court’s judgment granting the receiver’s motion for modification, holding that section 12-163a does authorize a receiver to use legal process to collect rent due prior to the date of the receiver’s appointment; and (2) otherwise affirmed. View "Canton v. Cadle Props. of Conn., Inc." on Justia Law
Redding Life Care, LLC v. Town of Redding
This case concerned the valuation of property owned by Plaintiff on which Plaintiff built a continuing care retirement community. In 2007, the assessor determined that Plaintiff's property had a fair market value of $117,621,000 and an assessment value of $82,334,600. Plaintiff challenged the valuation. The board of assessment appeals upheld the assessor's valuation. Plaintiff appealed, alleging it was aggrieved by the actions of the board because the assessor's valuation of the property exceeded seventy percent of its true and actual value on the assessment date. The trial court denied the appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court's determination that Plaintiff failed to establish aggrievement under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-117a was not clearly erroneous; and (2) the trial court properly determined that Plaintiff failed to meet its burden of proving the town's assessment of the property was manifestly excessive under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-119. View "Redding Life Care, LLC v. Town of Redding" on Justia Law
Scholastic Book Clubs, Inc. v. Comm’r of Revenue Servs.
Plaintiff Scholastic Book Clubs, Inc. sells its products to Connecticut schoolchildren by having schoolteachers submit to Plaintiff book orders the teachers have collected from students. The books are delivered to the teachers, who then distribute the books to the students. In 2006, the commissioner of revenue services imposed a sales and use tax deficiency assessment on Plaintiff for more than $3 million. Plaintiff protested the assessments. The commissioner upheld the assessments, reasoning that Plaintiff had sold its products using "in-state representatives" pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-407(a)(15)(A). The trial court reversed. The Supreme Court reversed the trial court, holding (1) the trial court incorrectly determined that the teachers were not Plaintiff's "representatives" within the meaning of section 12-407(A)(15)(a)(iv), as the teachers serve as the exclusive channel through which Plaintiff markets, sells and delivers its products to Connecticut schoolchildren; and (2) the trial court incorrectly determined that the taxes could not be imposed under the commerce clause, as the activities of the Connecticut schoolteachers who participate in Plaintiff's program provide the requisite nexus under the commerce clause to justify imposition of the taxes. View "Scholastic Book Clubs, Inc. v. Comm'r of Revenue Servs." on Justia Law
HVT, Inc. v. Law
Plaintiff HVC Inc. was a trustee of the Honda Lease Trust. During the audit period at issue, several car dealerships entered into thousands of leases with customers (lessees) pursuant to lease plan agreements between the dealerships, the trust, and the servicer of the trust. Under the leases, the lessees were responsible for submitting the vehicle registration renewal application and renewal fees to the department of motor vehicles on behalf of the trust. Upon receipt of the renewal application and fee, the department sent the vehicle registration card to the trust, and the trust forwarded the vehicle registration card to the appropriate lessee. After conducting a sales and use tax audit for the audit period from April 1, 2001 through October 31, 2004, Defendant Pamela Law, the then commissioner of revenue services, issued a deficiency assessment against Plaintiff, concluding that the renewal fees constituted taxable gross receipts of the trust and, therefore, were subject to the sales tax. The trial court rendered summary judgment partially in favor of Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the renewal fees paid by the lessess qualified as Plaintiff's gross receipts subject to sales tax under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-408(1). View "HVT, Inc. v. Law" on Justia Law
Housatonic R.R. Co. v. Comm’r of Revenue Servs.
For several years, Plaintiff Housatonic Railroad Company purchased diesel fuel from a petroleum distributor that was used exclusively by Plaintiff as part of its interstate freight rail business. The distributor remitted the petroleum tax to Defendant, the commissioner of revenue services. The distributor separately billed Plaintiff for the amount of tax it paid to the department of revenue services, and Plaintiff paid that amount directly to the distributor. Plaintiff then submitted requests to the department for a refund of the money paid for the petroleum tax by the distributor to the department. The commissioner denied Plaintiff's request. Plaintiff appealed. The trial court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss, concluding that the state was immune from suit because Plaintiff could not establish an exception to sovereign immunity under any of three separate statutory provisions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that none of the statutory provisions on which Plaintiff relied permits a rail carrier to bring an action against the state for a refund of taxes paid by a petroleum distributor. View "Housatonic R.R. Co. v. Comm'r of Revenue Servs." on Justia Law