Articles Posted in Tax Law

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Plaintiff (Carle Foundation) owns four Urbana parcels of land that are used in connection with the operation of plaintiff’s affiliate, Carle Foundation Hospital. Before 2004, the parcels were deemed exempt from taxation under the Property Tax Code (35 ILCS 200/15-65(a) because their use was for charitable purposes. From 2004-2011, the Cunningham Township assessor terminated plaintiff’s charitable-use tax exemption. For tax years 2004-2008, plaintiff filed unsuccessful applications with the county board of review to exempt the parcels. Plaintiff filed no applications for tax years 2009-2011. In 2007, plaintiff filed suit. In 2012, Public Act 97-688 (section 15-86) took effect, establishing a new charitable-use exemption specifically for hospitals. Plaintiff argued that section 15-86 applies retroactively. The court agreed, but held that it was “obvious that resolution of the question of whether the standard established by section 15-86(c) applies to plaintiff’s claims will not resolve the merits of those claims.” The appellate court reversed, finding that section 15-86 violated the Illinois Constitution. The Illinois Supreme Court vacated, holding that the court lacked appellate jurisdiction because the trial court erred in entering an order under Rule 304(a). Plaintiff’s exemption claims and plaintiff’s request for a declaration as to what law governs those claims matters are “so closely related that they must be deemed part of a single claim for relief.” View "Carle Foundation v. Cunningham Township" on Justia Law

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Chicago's personal property lease transaction tax ordinance levies a tax on the lease or rental in the city of personal property or the privilege of using in the city personal property that is leased or rented outside the city. The lessee is obliged to pay the tax. In 2011, the department of revenue issued Ruling 11, as guidance to suburban vehicle rental agencies located within three miles of Chicago’s borders. Ruling 11 stated that, in the event of an audit, the department of revenue would hold suburban rental agencies responsible for paying the tax unless there was written proof that the lessee was exempt, based upon the use of the leased vehicle outside the city. Absent such proof, the department would assume that a customer who is a Chicago resident would use the leased vehicle primarily in the city and that a customer who is not a Chicago resident would use the vehicle primarily outside the city. Hertz and Enterprise filed suit. The circuit court enjoined enforcement of the ordinance against plaintiffs with respect to short-term vehicle rental transactions occurring outside the city’s borders. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court found the tax unconstitutional under the state constitution Home Rule Provision. Absent an actual connection to Chicago, Ruling 11, which imposed the tax based on only a lessee’s stated intention or a conclusive presumption of use in Chicago based solely on residency, imposed a tax on transactions that take place wholly outside Chicago borders. View "Hertz Corp. v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a fraternal organization and tax exempt not-for-profit corporation, owns and operates, a Macon nursing home that s licensed by the Illinois Department of Public Health, with a permit to enter into life care contracts under 210 ILCS 40/1. In 2002, the Department of Public Aid directed plaintiff to pay the “Nursing Home License Fee” of $1.50 for each licensed nursing bed day for each calendar quarter, 305 ILCS 5/5E-10. The Department then claimed that plaintiff was delinquent since 1993 and owed $244,233 in back fees plus $237,890 in penalties. Plaintiff paid under protest and sought a declaratory judgment, alleging that the fee was unconstitutional as applied to it because the fee’s purpose is to fund Medicaid-related expenditures that are neither precipitated by nor paid to plaintiff. The trial court granted plaintiff summary judgment under the uniformity clause The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. The taxing classification “every nursing home,” bears some reasonable relationship to the object of the legislation and to public policy. The object of the fee is not simply Medicaid reimbursement; all fees are deposited into the Long-Term Care Provider Fund, which may be used for Medicaid reimbursement, administrative expenses of the Department and its agents, enforcement of nursing home standards, the nursing home ombudsman program, expansion of home-and community-based services, and the General Obligation Bond Retirement and Interest Fund. View "Grand Chapter, Order of the E. Star of Ill. v. Topinka" on Justia Law

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The Illinois Tax Delinquency Amnesty Act established a period, October 1, 2003 until November 17, 2003, during which "all taxes due" from 1983 through the first half of 2002 could be paid without interest or penalties. Tax liabilities not paid within the amnesty period would incur interest at 200%. Illinois Department of Revenue regulations provided that a taxpayer participating in the program must pay its entire tax liability regardless of whether that liability was known to the Department or the taxpayer. Those who were unsure of their tax liability were to pay a good-faith estimate during the amnesty period. An audit of the plaintiffs’ federal tax returns for 1998 and 1999 began in 2000 and ended in 2004, after the amnesty period expired and caused changes in their Illinois tax liability. The plaintiffs paid the taxes, along with single interest, but the Department assessed an interest penalty of 200%, (more than $2 million), which they paid under protest before filing suit. The circuit and appellate courts ruled in favor of plaintiffs. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed in favor of the Department. The phrase “all taxes due” means taxes due when initial returns are required to be filed, rather than taxes known to be due during the amnesty period. Taxpayers who were under IRS audit and were, therefore, uncertain about their ultimate Illinois tax liability could participate in the amnesty program by making a good-faith estimate pursuant to the regulations and making payment based on it. There was no constitutional violation because those in the plaintiffs’ position had an opportunity to avoid 200% interest by making a good-faith estimate of tax liability and paying it during the amnesty period, with the possibility of a refund. View "Metro. Life Ins. Co. v. Hamer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Tax Law

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Hartney, a fuel oil retailer with a home office in Forest View, in Cook County, accepted purchase orders in the Village of Mark, in Putnam County, through a business with which it contracted. No Hartney employees were involved there. By so structuring sales, Hartney avoided liability for retail occupation taxes of Cook County, Forest View, and the Regional Transportation Authority. Hartney’s interpretation of the law was consistent with regulations published at the time. However, The Illinois Department of Revenue determined, through audit, that Hartney’s sales were attributable to the company’s Forest View office, rather than the Mark location reported by the company, and issued a notice of tax liability. Hartney paid penalties of $23,111,939 under protest and filed suit. The court agreed that the bright-line test for the situs of sale is where purchase orders are accepted. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court, court disagreed. The court found the “Jurisdictional Questions” regulations of the Administrative Code inconsistent with the statutes and case law. The legislature has not adopted a single-factor test for the situs of retail activity. The court’s own precedent calls for fact-intensive inquiry where there is a composite of many activities, and the legislature, by consistently employing the “business of selling” language, has effectively invoked that precedent. The Department of Revenue must abate Hartney’s penalties and tax liability for the relevant period because Hartney’s actions were consistent with its regulations in effect at the time. View "Hartney Fuel Oil Co. v. Village of Forest View" on Justia Law

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WRB owns the Wood River Petroleum Refinery in Madison County. Following major renovations, WRB applied to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency under the Property Tax Code (35 ILCS 200/11-25) to have 28 of the refinery’s systems, methods, devices, and facilities certified as “pollution control facilities” for preferential tax assessment. IEPA recommended approval of two of the requests by the Pollution Control Board (PCB), which accepted the IEPA’s recommendations. The Board of Education sought to intervene in the proceedings where certification had been granted, arguing that it had a legally cognizable interest because the certifications would ultimately deprive it of tax revenue. PCB denied the petitions as moot. While requests to reconsider were pending, the IEPA recommended that the PCB approve WRB’s applications to certify the remaining 26 systems. Before PCB took action on those cases, the Board of Education sought to intervene. PCB denied the motion and granted certification in each case. The appellate court dismissed the Board of Education’s consolidated appeal for lack of jurisdiction under section 41 of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act, under which the Board of Education sought review The court noted the specific provision for appeals in proceedings involving PCB’s “issuance, refusal to issue, denial, revocation, modification or restriction of a pollution control certificate,” contained in the Property Tax Code,35 ILCS 200/11-60. That provision requires that proceedings originate in the circuit court, rather than by direct administrative review in the appellate court. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. View "Bd of Educ. of Roxana Cmty. Unit Sch. Dist/ No. 1 v. Pollution Control Bd." on Justia Law

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WRB owns the Wood River Petroleum Refinery in Madison County. Following major renovations, WRB applied to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency under the Property Tax Code (35 ILCS 200/11-25) to have 28 of the refinery’s systems, methods, devices, and facilities certified as “pollution control facilities” for preferential tax assessment. IEPA recommended approval of two of the requests by the Pollution Control Board (PCB), which accepted the IEPA’s recommendations. The Board of Education sought to intervene in the proceedings where certification had been granted, arguing that it had a legally cognizable interest because the certifications would ultimately deprive it of tax revenue. PCB denied the petitions as moot. While requests to reconsider were pending, the IEPA recommended that the PCB approve WRB’s applications to certify the remaining 26 systems. Before PCB took action on those cases, the Board of Education sought to intervene. PCB denied the motion and granted certification in each case. The appellate court dismissed the Board of Education’s consolidated appeal for lack of jurisdiction under section 41 of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act, under which the Board of Education sought review The court noted the specific provision for appeals in proceedings involving PCB’s “issuance, refusal to issue, denial, revocation, modification or restriction of a pollution control certificate,” contained in the Property Tax Code,35 ILCS 200/11-60. That provision requires that proceedings originate in the circuit court, rather than by direct administrative review in the appellate court. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. View "Bd. of Educ. of Roxana Cmty. Unit Sch. Dist. No. 1 v. Pollution Control Bd." on Justia Law

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The ability of consumers to make purchases on the internet from out-of-state merchants without paying Illinois sales or use taxes caused Illinois retailers to ask the legislature to “level the playing field.” The result was a taxing statute, Public Act 96-1544, effective in 2011, called the “click-through” nexus law. The law was challenged by a group of internet publishers that display website texts or images, such as a retailer’s logo, containing a link to a retailer’s website; they are compensated by the retailer when a consumer clicks on the link and makes a purchase from the retailer. Out-of-state retailers who use such arrangements to generate sales of over $10,000 per year become subject to taxation under the statute. Their challenge was based on the federal Internet Tax Freedom Act, 47 U.S.C. 151, which prohibits discriminatory taxes on electronic transactions, and the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Illinois Supreme Court held that the statute is invalid. The court noted that such marketing, when conducted through print media or on-the-air broadcasting, does not give rise to tax obligations under the Illinois statute. The enactment is a discriminatory tax on electronic commerce within the meaning of federal law, which preempts it. The court did not reach the commerce clause issue. View "Performance Mktg. Ass'n, Inc. v. Hamer" on Justia Law

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In 2009, plaintiffs alleged that the defendants, in 1999 and 2000, marketed and sold to them investments, known as the 1999 Digital Options Strategy and the 2000 COINS Strategy, which were promoted as producing profits and reducing tax liabilities. Plaintiffs were charged substantial fees, but the promised benefits did not occur. The parties agree that the five-year statute of limitations for actions not otherwise provided for is applicable. The circuit court dismissed; the appellate court reversed and remanded. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, applying the “discovery rule” that a limitation period begins to run when the plaintiff knows or reasonably should know of the injury and its wrongful cause. The limitation period began to run when the IRS issued deficiency notices to plaintiffs in 2008. The complaint adequately alleged breach of fiduciary duty; that there was no basis for dismissing the claim as legally insufficient. View "Khan v. Deutsche Bank AG" on Justia Law

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Effective with 1982 legislation, a portion of each motorcycle registration fee was deposited in the state treasury to fund a motorcycle safety training program. In 1993, the amount set aside for the program was increased to be the total amount of each fee, and the monies were to be placed in a trust fund outside of the state treasury. Without amending the Act, the legislature began, in 1992, to authorize the transfer of money from the motorcycle fund and other funds into the General Revenue Fund, through budget implementation acts and amendments to the State Finance Act. A nonprofit corporation initiated a class action. Summary judgment was granted for the defense, and the appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, finding no evidence that the cycle fees are private. The court rejected an argument based in trust-law principles, arguing that the trust was irrevocable because no power to revoke the trust was conferred by the legislation that created it. A general assembly cannot control the actions of a subsequent elected body. It has long been recognized that the legislature has the authority to order monies collected in one fund to be transferred to a different fund. View "A.B.A.T.E. of IL, Inc. v. Giannoulias" on Justia Law