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On April 7, 2021, the New York Legislature passed the New York Budget Bill for fiscal year 2022 (S2509–C/A3009-C) (the “Enacted Budget”), ushering in a slew of tax increases for businesses and high-income earners.  As of the time of publication of this post, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had not yet signed the Enacted Budget, but has indicated that he will do so. The Enacted Budget is the result of a months-long negotiation process that…

In groundbreaking news, the Texas Third Court of Appeals has withdrawn its earlier opinion and issued a new opinion in the Hegar v. El Paso Electric Co. case. In the case, which has attracted widespread attention, El Paso Electric filed a refund claim with the Texas Comptroller for sales taxes that it had paid on transactions involving “telemetry units that are related to step down transformers,” which are pieces of equipment used to transmit electricity. In its initial redetermination request, which is required in Texas to challenge a denied refund claim, El Paso Electric cited the Texas sales tax manufacturing exemption as one of its grounds for challenging the refund denial. Specifically, El Paso Electric cited Texas Tax Code section 151.318(a)(4), which includes the term “telemetry units that are related to the step-down transformers” among a list of around fifty different items that are exempt from sales tax when used as part of the manufacturing process in Texas. The Texas Comptroller argued that, because El Paso Electric did not explicitly tie the telemetry units related to step-down transformers directly to the code section citation, El Paso Electric was barred from raising those claims during its administrative hearing. The administrative law judge agreed and overruled El Paso Electric’s claim that its telemetry units were exempt under Texas Tax Code section 151.318(a)(4). El Paso Electric then sued in Texas District Court, which overruled the administrative law judge and granted El Paso Electric’s refund claim. The Texas Comptroller later appealed, and the Texas Third Court of Appeals once again overturned the district court, ruling for the Texas Comptroller. This latest opinion withdraws the earlier Third Court of Appeals opinion and issues a new opinion.

New York lawmakers recently introduced two bills to expand the application of the New York State False Claims Act (“FCA”). The first intends to require the FCA to apply to non-filers, the second to remove the scienter element (i.e., no longer imposing a “knowing” requirement). Although both bills are retroactive and concerning, removing the scienter element should put all businesses on high alert as enforcement of the tax laws could now be in the hands…

In City & County of San Francisco v. All Persons Interested in the Matter of Proposition C, Dkt. A158645 (Cal. App., June 30, 2020), the California Court of Appeal upheld Proposition C—a voter initiative that created a new local business tax in San Francisco.  The court upheld the initiative that was enacted by a simple majority of electors.  This ruling answers a question that was been heavily debated since the California Supreme Court’s decision in California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland, 3 Cal. 5th 924 (Cal. 2017).  That is, do special taxes proposed by voter initiative require a supermajority of voters to pass?  This decision expressly narrows the supermajority requirement to only those tax measures proposed directly by local governments and will likely trigger more tax initiatives proposed and passed by citizen groups.