Articles Posted in Tax Law

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The Tax Tribunal erred by concluding that MCL 211.7n, a statute specifically exempting from taxation the real or personal property owned and occupied by nonprofit educational institutions, controlled over the more general statute, MCL 211.9(1)(a), which authorized a tax exemption for educational institutions without regard to the institution’s nonprofit or for-profit status. SBC Health Midwest, Inc., challenged the city of Kentwood’s denial of its request for a personal property tax exemption in the Tax Tribunal. SBC Health, a Delaware for-profit corporation, had requested a tax exemption under MCL 211.9(1)(a) for personal property used to operate the Sanford-Brown College Grand Rapids. The Michigan Supreme Court held the nonprofit requirement in MCL 211.7n did not negate a for-profit educational institution like SBC Health from pursuing an exemption under MCL 211.9(1)(a). The tax exemption outlined in the unambiguous language in MCL 211.9(1)(a) applies to all educational institutions, for-profit or nonprofit, that meet the requirements specified in MCL 211.9(1)(a). View "SBC Health Midwest, Inc. v. City of Kentwood" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether and to what extent (if any) an electric utility was entitled to the industrial-processing tax exemption for tangible personal property located outside its generation plants. The Court of Appeals held that plaintiff was entitled to the full industrial-processing exemption for the property. Upon review, the Supreme Court held that the property subject to this suit was simultaneously used for exempt “industrial processing” activity under MCL 205.94o(7)(a) and nonexempt “distribution” and “shipping” activities under MCL 205.94o(6)(b). In these circumstances, the taxpayer was entitled to the industrial-processing exemption based on the “percentage of exempt use to total use determined by a reasonable formula or method approved by the department [of Treasury].” MCL 205.94o(2). Accordingly, the Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals in part, reversed in part, and remanded to the Court of Claims for further proceedings. View "Detroit Edison Co. v. Dept. of Treasury" on Justia Law

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n consolidated appeals, the issue central to all that was presented for the Supreme Court's review was whether petitioners, who sold their principal residences in arm’s-length transactions, were entitled to refunds of the real estate transfer tax under the real estate transfer tax exemption set forth in MCL 207.526(u) when the state equalized value of the properties at the time of sale was less than it was at the time of their original purchases. The Court held that petitioners were entitled to refunds under the real estate transfer tax exemption in these circumstances. The Court of Appeals was reversed and the cases remanded to the Tax Tribunal for further proceedings, including reinstatement of its judgments in favor of petitioners. View "Gardner v. Dept. of Treasury" on Justia Law

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International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) brought an action in the Court of Claims against the Department of Treasury to challenge the department's ruling that IBM was not entitled to apportion its business income tax base and modified gross receipts tax base using a three-factor apportionment formula provided in the Multistate Tax Compact (MCL 205.581 et seq.) and was instead required to apportion its income using the sales-factor formula in the Business Tax Act (MCL 208.1101 et seq.) when calculating its state taxes for 2008. IBM moved for summary judgment under MCR 2.116(C)(10), and the department moved for summary judgment under MCR 2.116(I)(2). After a hearing, the Court of Claims denied IBM's motion and granted the department's motion, holding that the BTA mandated the use of the sales-factor apportionment formula. The Court of Appeals affirmed in an unpublished opinion per curiam. After review, the Supreme Court concluded that IBM was entitled to use the Compact's three-factor apportionment formula for its 2008 Michigan taxes and that the Court of Appeals erred by holding otherwise on the basis of its erroneous conclusion that the Legislature had repealed the Compact's election provision by implication when it enacted the BTA. Furthermore, the Court held that IBM could use the Compact's apportionment formula for that portion of its tax base subject to the modified gross receipts tax of the BTA. View "International Business Machines Corp. v. Dept. of Treasury" on Justia Law

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This case began as a dispute between the parties regarding whether plaintiff owed tax under the now-repealed Single Business Tax Act (SBTA) related to plaintiff's contributions to its Voluntary Employees' Beneficiary Association (VEBA) trust fund for 1997 through 2001. In this case, the issue for the Supreme Court to decide was what actions a taxpayer must take under MCL 205.30 of the Revenue Act to trigger the accrual of interest on a tax refund. The Court held that in order to trigger the accrual of interest, the plain language of the statute requires a taxpayer to: (1) pay the disputed tax; (2) make a “claim” or "petition" for a refund; and (3) "file" the claim or petition. "Although a "claim" or "petition" need not take any specific form, it must clearly demand, request, or assert a right to a refund of tax payments made to the Department of Treasury that the taxpayer asserts are not due. Additionally, in order to "file" the claim or petition, a taxpayer must submit the claim to the Treasury in a manner sufficient to provide the Treasury with adequate notice of the taxpayer’s claim." View "Ford Motor Co. v. Dept. of Treasury" on Justia Law

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Andrie Inc. brought an action in the Court of Claims, seeking a refund of use taxes it had paid under protest for the years 1999 through 2006 after an audit by the Department of Treasury determined that Andrie had understated the taxes it owed for that period under the Use Tax Act (UTA). In order to be entitled to the exemption from the use tax, a taxpayer must show that the sales tax was both due and paid on the sale of that tangible personal property. Because Andrie did not submit any evidence that sales tax had been paid, Andrie was not entitled to the use tax exemption. The Court of Appeals judgment was reversed to the extent it held that the use tax could never be levied on property if the purchase of that property was subject to sales tax. View "Andrie, Inc. v. Dept. of Tresasury" on Justia Law

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Fradco, Inc., contested a final assessment issued by the Department of Treasury that disallowed a sales tax deduction following an audit. Through its resident agent, Fradco requested the department send all information regarding tax matters to the certified public accountant (CPA) that Fradco designated. The department mailed a copy of its preliminary decision and order of determination to Fradco's CPA. It sent the final assessment only to Fradco's place of business. Fradco's CPA inquired about the final assessment and was informed a month later that a final assessment had been issued, that no appeal had been taken, and that the matter was now subject to collection. The letter did not include a copy of the assessment. The department sought summary judgment in Fradco’s appeal, arguing that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction because the appeal had not been filed within 35 days after the final assessment. The tribunal denied the motion, concluding that state law provided a parallel notice requirement whenever a taxpayer properly filed a request that notices be sent to a representative and that notice to Fradco alone had not been sufficient to start the 35-day period. Similarly, SMK, LLC, contested a final assessment issued by the Department of Treasury. SMK had hired a CPA and designated him to represent it for purposes of the sales tax audit, giving him limited authorization to inspect or receive confidential information, represent SMK, and receive mail from the department. The department faxed the CPA a notice stating that the audit package had been submitted. It sent a final assessment to SMK via certified mail, although SMK claimed that it did not receive the final assessment. The CPA made several inquiries to the department and received no answers from the department. Five days after the appeal period had allegedly run, the department sent SMK's CPA the final assessment and a letter stating that the deadline for appeal had passed. The Supreme Court granted the department leave to appeal and ordered that the Fradco and SMK appeals be heard together. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that if a taxpayer has appointed a representative, the Department of Treasury must issue notice to both the taxpayer and the taxpayer’s official representative before the taxpayer’s 35-day appeal period under MCL 205.22(1) begins to run. View "Fradco, Inc. v. Dept. of Treasury" on Justia Law

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The issue before the Supreme Court in this case was whether the execution of a lease of tangible personal property constitutes "use" for purposes of the Use Tax Act (UTA). Petitioner purchased an aircraft from one company and immediately executed a five-year lease to another company that already had possession of the aircraft. The Department of Treasury assessed a use tax against petitioner based on the lease transaction, and the Michigan Tax Tribunal ultimately upheld the assessment. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that petitioner did not “use” the aircraft because it ceded total control of the aircraft to the lessee by virtue of the lease and the lessee had uninterrupted possession of the aircraft before and during the lease. The Supreme Court concluded that because the right to allow others to use one’s personal property is a right incident to ownership, and a lease is an instrument by which an owner exercises that right, it follows that the execution of a lease is an exercise of a right or power over tangible personal property incident to the ownership of the property. Therefore, that constitutes "use" for purposes of the UTA. Accordingly, petitioner "used" the aircraft in question for purposes of the UTA when it executed a lease of the aircraft in Michigan, regardless of whether it ever had actual possession of the aircraft. View "NACG Leasing v. Dept. of Treasury" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court combined several taxpayers' appeals for the purpose of this opinion. In each, taxpayers owned two (or more) separate S-corporations, and attributed profits and losses from each businesses to their Michigan tax returns, arguing that the multiple businesses were unitary corporations. In each case, plaintiffs owned a Michigan company and a foreign company, but combined the profits and losses from both for credits on their Michigan returns. The Department of the Treasury disallowed the unitary classification. The Supreme Court held that under Michigan tax law, individual taxpayers may combine the profits and losses from unitary flow-through businesses and then apportion that income on the basis of those businesses’ combined apportionment factors. View "Malpass v. Dept. of Treasury" on Justia Law

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Hillsdale County Senior Services, Inc. (HCSS) filed an action against Hillsdale County, seeking mandamus to enforce the terms of a property-tax ballot proposition that provided for the levy of an additional 0.5 mill property tax in Hillsdale County to fund HCSS. The Hillsdale County voters approved the proposition in 2008 to raise funds for the provision of services to older persons by HCSS. Defendant entered into a contract with HCSS from January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2010, but did not levy and spend the full, voter-approved, 0.5 mill. The circuit court granted plaintiffs' writ for mandamus and ordered defendant to levy the entire 0.5 mill for the length of time approved by the voters. In an unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed the order, concluding that the circuit court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over the case because the Tax Tribunal had exclusive and original jurisdiction over the matter. HCSS appealed, and the Supreme Court, after its review, agreed that the circuit court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction. Accordingly the Court of Appeals was affirmed. View "Hillsdale County Senior Services Center v. Hillsdale County" on Justia Law