Supreme Court Briefing Underway in PPL
January 4, 2013
[Note: Miller & Chevalier filed amicus briefs in this case on behalf of American Electric Power Co. in both the Third Circuit and the Supreme Court.]
The taxpayer has filed its opening brief in the Supreme Court in PPL Corp. v. Commissioner, No. 12-43, a foreign tax credit case that we have covered extensively on its journey to the Court. PPL’s brief heavily criticizes the formalism of the government’s position, stating that “the Commissioner would have the labels and form a foreign country employs, and not the substance of the tax it imposes, determine how the tax should be treated for purposes of U.S. tax law.” Once that formalistic approach is rejected, PPL argues, this becomes an “easy case” because “[t]here is no real dispute that the U.K. windfall tax is, in substance, an excess profits tax in the U.S. sense.”
Two other companies with current disputes regarding the creditability of the U.K windfall tax — Entergy Corp. and American Electric Power Co. — filed amicus briefs in support of PPL. The Entergy brief contains a detailed description of how the U.K. windfall tax came to be enacted in its particular form, and it states that the Third Circuit decision “disregards the real operation of the tax at issue.” The AEP brief contains a detailed description of the prior administrative treatment of excess profits taxes and argues that the operation and effect of the U.K. windfall tax is akin to that of a traditional U.S. excess profits tax that has always been regarded as creditable.
Another amicus brief was filed by the Southeastern Legal Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce, the Cato Institute, and the Goldwater Institute. That brief criticizes the government’s position as “opportunistic and inconsistent with the government’s usual emphasis on substance over form.” Patrick Smith also filed an amicus brief focusing on the operation of the regulations.
The government’s brief in response is due January 14. Oral argument has been scheduled for February 20.