Supplemental Briefing Completed in Altera

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October 10, 2018

Attached are the four supplemental briefs filed by the parties in the Altera case.  First, in anticipation of the reargument of the case, with Judge Graber now sitting on the panel in place of the deceased Judge Reinhardt, the court invited the parties to file supplemental briefs limited to half of the length of a normal court of appeals brief.  This briefing opportunity was designed to give the parties the chance to restate or add to their arguments on the issues previously addressed in the case, having now had the opportunity to read the competing opinions of Judges Reinhardt and … Read More

Altera Set for October 16 Reargument

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August 17, 2018

The Ninth Circuit has announced that the panel (with Judge Graber substituted for the deceased Judge Reinhardt) will hear a new oral argument in the Altera case on the afternoon of October 16.  This announcement eliminates the possibility that Judge Graber would simply review the materials in the case and decide to join the prior majority opinion.  The outcome of the case now appears to be up for grabs, and most likely in the hands of Judge Graber unless either Judge Thomas or Judge O’Malley changes his or her mind in the case.… Read More

Altera Opinion Withdrawn

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August 7, 2018

In a surprising move, the Ninth Circuit announced today that it has withdrawn its opinion in Altera “to allow time for the reconstituted panel to confer on this appeal,” even though no petition for rehearing has been filed yet.  See our prior report on the Altera decision here.  The mention of  the “reconstituted panel” refers to an order issued by the court last week that appointed Judge Graber as a replacement judge for Judge Reinhardt, who passed away in March.

At the time, the order appointing Judge Graber seemed to be an exercise in closing the barn door after … Read More

Chamber of Commerce Appeal Dismissed

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July 27, 2018

We reported earlier that it was likely the government would dismiss its appeal in the Chamber of Commerce case once final regulations were issued addressing inversion transactions.  Those regulations were issued on July 11.  Yesterday, the government moved to dismiss the appeal with prejudice as moot (without specifying the final regulations as the cause), and the court immediately entered an order dismissing it.  Thus, there will be no appellate review of the novel issues raised by the district court’s decision in this case regarding temporary regulations and the Administrative Procedure Act.  See our prior report here.

It is possible … Read More

Ninth Circuit Reverses Altera and Revives Cost-Sharing Regulations

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July 24, 2018

The Ninth Circuit today by a 2-1 vote reversed the Tax Court’s Altera decision that had invalidated Treasury regulations requiring taxpayers to include employee stock options in the pool of costs shared under a cost-sharing agreement. See our previous reports here. The court’s decision (authored by Chief Judge Thomas) held that the regulations were a permissible interpretation of Code section 482 in imposing that requirement even in the absence of any evidence that taxpayers operating at arm’s length actually share such costs in similar arrangements. The court also held that Treasury’s rulemaking did not violate the Administrative Procedure Act … Read More

Supreme Court Overrules Quill

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June 21, 2018

The Supreme Court this morning decided South Dakota v. Wayfair and overruled the longstanding “physical-presence rule” for sales tax collection by out-of-state sellers.  See our previous coverage here.  The vote was 5-4.  The dissenters (Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kagan, Sotomayor, and Breyer) agreed that the cases establishing the rule were wrongly decided, but took the position that the Court should allow Congress to change the rule.  At oral argument, Justice Alito had indicated that he might share that view, but in the end he voted with the Justices that wanted to put an immediate end to the physical-presence … Read More

Briefing Delays in Chamber of Commerce Could Portend Dismissal of Appeal

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May 18, 2018

The government’s appeal in the Chamber of Commerce case raises important issues of administrative law (see our previous report here), but it seems increasingly unlikely that the court of appeals will ever reach those issues.

The government’s opening brief was filed in March. That brief (linked below) addresses several issues—including standing, the Anti-Injunction Act, and the authority of temporary regulations issued without notice-and-comment. At the time, the government had sought to avoid having to file its brief at all, filing a motion shortly before the (already extended) due date that asked the court of appeals to stay the … Read More

Oral Argument in Wayfair Raises the Possibility That a Sharply Divided Court Will Preserve Quill

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April 18, 2018

As noted in our initial report on the Wayfair case, supporters of overruling the physical-presence rule of Quill appeared to begin the vote-counting with a solid head start, given statements already made by several of the Justices. Both Justices Kennedy and Gorsuch were on record as questioning the continuing vitality of Quill, and Justice Thomas has repeatedly expressed his general disdain for the Dormant Commerce Clause and seems most unlikely to provide a decisive vote in favor of a controversial application of that doctrine.

The oral argument yesterday in Wayfair provided no reason to change the expectation that these … Read More

Briefing Complete in Wayfair

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April 13, 2018

The parties have now completed the briefing in the Wayfair case involving sales tax collection by out-of-state sellers, which was discussed in previous posts here and here.  Oral argument is scheduled for April 17, and the Court is expected to issue its decision by the end of June.

The retailers’ response brief argues that the reliance interests and concerns about undue burdens on interstate commerce that motivated the Court’s decision to apply stare decisis principles and adhere to settled law in Quill remain in force today.  The brief focuses heavily on trying to rebut South Dakota’s contention that modern … Read More

Fifth Circuit Poised to Consider Validity of Temporary Regulations Aimed at Curbing Inversions

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March 7, 2018

We present here a guest post by our colleague Katherine Zhang.

In Chamber of Commerce v. Internal Revenue Service, the Fifth Circuit will consider whether “tax exceptionalism” exists in the context of temporary regulations. At issue in the case are Treasury regulations that provide special rules for calculating the “ownership fraction” for entities engaged in inversion transactions. The district court set aside the regulations as promulgated in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and the government has appealed.

Since the Supreme Court consigned the broad notion of “tax exceptionalism” to the scrap heap in Mayo Foundation, 562 … Read More

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