Articles Posted in Tax Law

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The Colorado Supreme Court granted certiorari review to determine whether “Blunt Wraps,” a type of cigar wrapper made in part of tobacco and designed to be filled with smoking material and smoked, could be taxed as “tobacco products,” as that term was defined in section 39-28.5-101(5), C.R.S. (2016). The Court concluded Blunt Wraps fell within the plan language of the definition of “tobacco products” in the statue at issue, and are taxable accordingly. View "Colo. Dep't of Revenue v. Creager" on Justia Law

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The Colorado Supreme Court concluded that the statutory scheme property taxation of oil and gas leaseholds authorized the retroactive tax assessment in this case. Petitioner Kinder Morgan CO2 Company, L.P., operated oil and gas leaseholds in Montezuma County, Colorado. In 2009, the assessor for Montezuma County issued a corrective tax assessment on these leaseholds for the previous tax year, retroactively assessing over $2 million in property taxes, after an auditor concluded that Kinder Morgan underreported the value of gas produced at the leaseholds. Kinder Morgan appealed, arguing the assessor lacked authority to retroactively assess these taxes because Colorado law did not authorize a retroactive assessment when an operator has correctly reported the volume of oil and gas sold but has underreported the selling price at the wellhead. In affirming the court of appeals in this matter, the Supreme Court further concluded that the Board of Assessment Appeals did not err in determining that Kinder Morgan underreported the selling price by claiming excess transportation deductions, given Kinder Morgan’s relationship to the owner of the pipeline through which the gas was transported. View "Kinder Morgan CO2 Co., L.P. v. Montezuma Cty. Bd. of Comm'rs" on Justia Law

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Creager Mercantile Co., Inc., a wholesale distributor of groceries and tobacco products, sells Blunt Wraps, a type of cigar wrapper made of thirty to forty-eight percent tobacco. Blunt Wraps are designed to be filled with additional tobacco or marijuana and then smoked. The Colorado Supreme Court was called on the determine whether Blunt Wraps could be taxed as “tobacco products,” as that term was defined in section 39-28.5-101(5), C.R.S. (2016). Because Blunt Wraps are a “kind” or “form” of tobacco, and are “prepared in such manner as to be suitable . . . for smoking,” the Court held Blunt Wraps fell within the plain language of the definition of “tobacco products” under section 39-28.5-101(5) and were taxable accordingly. View "Colo. Dept. of Revenue v. Creager" on Justia Law

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In July 2010, the City and County of Denver issued nine Notices of Final Determination, Assessment and Demand for Payment against various online travel companies: Expedia, Inc.; Hotels.com LP; Hotwire, Inc.; Orbitz, LLC; Trip Network, Inc.; Priceline.com Incorporated; Travelweb, LLC; Site59.com, LLC; and Travelocity.com LP. The Notices claimed unpaid taxes, penalties, and interest due according to the city lodger’s tax article, for the period from January 2001 through April 2010, totaling over $40 million. These online companies filed nearly identical protests, requesting hearings before a Denver Department of Finance hearing officer, and the protests were consolidated by stipulation. Denver petitioned for review of the court of appeals opinion reversing the judgment of the district court and remanding with directions to vacate the subject tax assessments against respondent online travel companies (“OTCs”). The district court had largely upheld the hearing officer’s denial of protests. Unlike the hearing officer and district court, the court of appeals concluded that the city lodger’s tax article was at least ambiguous with regard to both the purchase price paid or charged for lodging, upon which the tax is to be levied, and the status of the OTCs as vendors, upon which the ordinance imposes the responsibility to collect the tax and remit it to the city; and the intermediate appellate court considered itself obligated to resolve all ambiguities in the lodger’s tax article, being a tax statute, in favor of the OTCs. The Colorado Supreme Court found the “fair and reasonable interpretation” of Denver’s lodger’s tax article was that it imposed a duty on the OTCs to collect and remit the prescribed tax on the purchase price of any lodging they sell, to include not only the amount they have contracted with the hotel to charge and return but also the amount of their markup. The judgment of the court of appeals was therefore reversed, and the matter was remanded for consideration of the remaining issues raised on appeal by the parties. View "City & Cty. of Denver v. Expedia, Inc." on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Supreme Court's review centered on whether 39-29-105(1)(a) permitted a deduction for the “cost of capital” associated with natural gas transportation and processing facilities. In general terms, the cost of capital was defined as the amount of money that an investor could have earned on a different investment of similar risk. In this case, the cost of capital was the amount of money that BP America Production Company’s (“BP”) predecessors could have earned had they invested in other ventures rather than in building transportation and processing facilities. BP claimed it could deduct the cost of capital because it was a cost associated with transportation and processing activity. Respondent Colorado Department of Revenue argued that the cost of capital was not a deductible cost because it was not an actual cost. The court of appeals held that the cost of capital as not a deductible cost under the statute. BP appealed, and the Colorado Supreme Court reversed, holding that the plain language of section 39-29-102(3)(a) authorized a deduction for any transportation, manufacturing, and processing costs and that the cost of capital was a deductible cost that resulted from investment in transportation and processing facilities. The appellate court was reversed and the case remanded back to the district court for further proceedings. View "BP Am. v. Colo. Dept. of Revenue" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether several food and beverage concessionaires at the City-owned airport held taxable possessory interests under the test in "Board of County Commissioners v. Vail Associates, Inc.," (19 P.3d 1263 (Colo. 2001)). Relying on "Vail Associates," the City and County of Denver assessed property taxes on the concessionaires' possessory interests in their airport concession spaces. The concessionaires protested the valuation and eventually sued. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the concessionaires' interest were taxable under Vail Associates. The Supreme Court also affirmed: the concessionaires' interests were sufficiently exclusive because the concessionaires had the right to exclude others from using their respective concessions spaces; the totality of the circumstances reflected that the concessionaires' revenue-generating capability was independent of the City; and the valuation of the interests was consistent with the General Assembly's possessory interest valuation scheme set forth by statute, and supported by the record. View "Cantina Grill, JV v. City & Cty. of Denver Cty. Bd of Equalization" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Tax Law

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Public Service Company of Colorado applied for a tax refund from the state Department of Revenue. The company argued that it was entitled to a refund because it paid taxes when it was actually eligible for an exemption. The district court held in favor of the company, concluding that electricity was tangible personal property and that the production of electricity constituted manufacturing, thus entitling the company to the exemption (the "manufacturing exemption" under 39-26-709(1)(a)(II) C.R.S. (2013)). Upon review of the Department's argument on appeal, the Supreme Court reversed, finding that section 39-26-104(1)(d.1) applied in this case: electricity did not qualify as tangible personal property, and that the Code "contemplate[d] that 'electricity furnished and sold'" was to be taxed as a service. View "Department of Revenue v. Public Service Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals’ ruling in favor of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ interpretation of CRS 39-4-102. The Court held that Qwest Corporation as a public utility, is valued centrally and therefore was not entitled to the intangible property exemption or the cost cap valuation method found elsewhere in Colorado’s tax statutes. The Court also held that this valuation method did not violate Qwest’s constitutional guarantee under the Equal Protection Clause nor did it violate Qwest’s rights under the Uniform Taxation Clause of the Colorado Constitution. View "Qwest v. Colorado Division of Property Taxation" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Accord Human Resources, Inc. (Accord) is a professional employer organization that transacts business in Colorado along with four related entities. In 2004, Accord transferred a portion of its Colorado employees to another Accord entity with a lower unemployment tax rate and in doing so, reduced its unemployment tax burden. The Colorado Division of Employment and Training determined that it had authority to treat the various Accord entities as one for purposes of assessing unemployment taxes, thus erasing any tax advantage that could be gained through the employee transfer. Under this rationale, the Division issued a delinquent tax notice to Accord. Accord appealed, and the hearing officer reversed. On appeal, the court of appeals reversed the Industrial Claim Appeals Office's Final Order and reinstated the hearing officer's decision. The Division sought to reverse the court of appeals decision. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court's decision, finding that nothing gave the Division authority to combine separate employer tax accounts into one account for purposes of assessing unemployment taxes. View "Colorado Div. of Employment & Training v. Accord Human Resources, Inc" on Justia Law

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The issue on appeal to the Supreme Court was whether the Court of Appeals' ruling that the Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution (Amendment 1) required statewide voter approval each time the Colorado Department of Revenue calculated an increase in the amount of tax due per ton of coal extracted as directed by the formula codified in C.R.S. 39-29-106. After Amendment 1 went into effect, the Department suspended using the tax mechanism for calculating upward adjustments in the amount of coal severance tax owed based on inflation. Following an auditor's review in 2006, an Attorney General's opinion and a rule-making proceedings, the Department recommended applying the statute to calculate the tax due. Implementation resorted in a tax of $0.76 per ton of coal as compared to $0.56 per ton collected in 1992 when Amendment 1 first passed. The Colorado Mining Association and taxpayer coal companies filed an action challenging collection of the $0.76 per ton amount. Colorado Mining asserted that whenever the Department calculated an upward adjustment in the amount of tax due under the statute, it must obtain voter approval. The Court of Appeals agreed, but the Supreme Court disagreed. The Court held that the Department's implementation of section 39-29-106 was not a tax increase, but a "non-discretionary duty required by a pre-Amendment 1 taxing statute which did not require voter approval." Accordingly, the Court reversed the appellate court's judgment and reinstated the trial court's judgment, which held that the Department must implement the statute as written. View "Huber v. Colo. Mining Ass'n" on Justia Law