Tax and Budget

As Washington State Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den illustrates, not all 5-4 Supreme Court cases involve high-profile, controversial issues where the Justices are divided on ideological lines.

In this case the Supreme Court held 5-4 that a treaty forbids the State of Washington from imposing a tax upon members of the Yakama Nation that import fuel.

An 1855 treaty between the United States and the Yakama Nation reserves to the Yamakas “the right, in common with the citizens of the United States, to travel upon all public highways.” A Washington statute taxes fuel importers who bring large quantities of fuel into the state by ground transportation. Cougar Den is a wholesale fuel importer owned by a Yakama member that transports fuel by truck from Oregon to Yakama-owned gas stations in Washington. Cougar Den argued the treaty preempted the tax.

This case would have been a lot more interesting had it gone the other way. In an unanimous decision the Supreme Court held in Dawson v. Steager that West Virginia violated a federal statute by taxing all the retirement benefits of former federal law enforcement employees but not certain state law enforcement employees.

4 U.S.C. § 111 allows states to tax the pay of federal employees only “if the taxation does not discriminate . . . because of the source of the pay or compensation.” James Dawson, a former U.S. Marshal, sued West Virginia alleging it violated this statute because it taxed his pension but not the pensions of certain state law enforcement employees. The West Virginia Supreme Court found no discrimination because relatively few state employees received the tax break and the statute’s intent was to benefit those state retirees not harm federal retirees.

CSG Midwest
The U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which became law in December 2017, included a $10,000 cap on the deductibility of state and local taxes from federal taxes, the so-called “SALT deduction.” Prior to the 2018 tax year, there was no cap on the deductibility of state and...

The issue the Supreme Court will decide in McDonough v. Smith is whether the statute of limitations for a due process fabrication of evidence claim begins to run when the criminal proceedings terminate in the defendant’s favor, or when the defendant becomes aware of the tainted evidence and its improper use.

Edward McDonough, former Democratic Commissioner of Rensselaer County Board of Elections, approved forged absentee ballot applications which he claims he didn’t know had been falsified. Youel Smith investigated and prosecuted McDonough. McDonough claims Smith “engaged in an elaborate scheme to frame McDonough for the crimes by, among other things, fabricating evidence.” After two trials, McDonough was ultimately acquitted.

Just before three years passed since McDonough was acquitted he sued Smith under Section 1983 for violating his due process rights by fabricating evidence and using it against him. Section 1983 allows citizens to sue state and local government officials in federal court for constitutional violations.

In The Law of Trusts and Trustees, George Gleason Bogert describes trusts as a “legal abstraction: a fiction created to represent the tripartite relationship among a settlor, a trustee, and a beneficiary.” The debatable location of a trust makes it difficult for courts to agree which jurisdictions may tax a trust’s income. For example, what if only a trust beneficiary is located in the state, may the state tax the trust’s income? 

In North Carolina Department of Revenue v. The Kimberley Rice Kaestner 1992 Family Trust the Supreme Court will decide whether the Due Process Clause prohibits states from taxing trusts based on trust beneficiaries’ in-state residency.

CSG Midwest
State fiscal conditions were the focus of several recent national studies — here are some of the key findings for the Midwest.

This session explored key issues, potential unintended consequences and implication for economic competitiveness of conforming to the new federal corpotate income tax. Speakers Joseph Crosby, Douglas Lindholm and Scott Roberti engaged in a highly interactive discussion of the questions facing states as they move to conform or to decouple from the federal tax provisions passed late in calendar 2017 that applied to 2017 taxes....

Those in attendance at the "Growing Green: Marijuana Policy Impacts on State Budgets"  session at the CSG National Conference heard that states have collected what they characterized as significant but not game changing revenues. Friednash and Todd, both from Colorado, the first state to legalize sales of recreational marijuana, reinforced that marijuana revenues are but a sliver of overall state revenues. In his presentation, economist Beau Whitney presented estimates of other economic impacts of marijuana legalization...

During the 2018 CSG National Conference in Northern Kentucky - Greater Cincinnati, attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a day-long policy academy on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. to consider state options to implement gaming in their states following the recent Murphy decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

CSG Midwest

In September, South Dakota lawmakers met in special session to finalize a policy change that Gov. Dennis Daugaard said was “50 years in the making.” He signed two bills that allow the state to act on its new legal authority to collect taxes from remote and online sales.

Under SB 1, which takes effect on Nov. 1, South Dakota will enforce sales tax collections from online retailers who have at least $100,000 in sales or 200 transactions a year. A second bill approved in the recent special session (SB 2) requires online marketplace providers such as Amazon to attain a sales tax license and remit sales taxes on behalf of sellers that use their services.

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