Supreme Court to Consider West Virginia Tax Credits Case

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By Che Odom

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether to review a decision by West Virginia’s high court concerning the state’s refusal to credit CSX Transportation Inc. for taxes it paid on motor fuel to local governments in other states.

The case was distributed for a scheduled Sept. 25 conference ( Steager v. CSX Transp. Inc., U.S., No. 16-1251, distributed for conference 9/25/17 ).

West Virginia Tax Commissioner Dan Steager wants the justices to revisit the internal consistency test for taxation under the commerce clause, which the high court addressed in its 2015 landmark Comptroller of Treasury of Md. v. Wynne opinion. In an April 17 petition, Steager argued that state courts aren’t in harmony. A so-called “split” among the highest state courts is among the reasons that might encourage the high court to consider a case.

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled in November 2016 that a state credit must be granted for sales taxes paid not only to other states, but also to the local governments of other states. West Virginia’s practice of extending credits only for taxes paid to states is “internally inconsistent” and violates constitutional principles regarding interstate commerce, the appeals court held, citing Wynne.

That holding is “consistent with all existing Dormant Commerce Clause jurisprudence,” CSX Transportation said in its brief opposing Steager’s request for review.

CSX Transportation’s parent, CSX Corp., is an international rail and container-shipping company based in Jacksonville, Fla., with a market cap of $48 billion. It’s one of the largest carriers of coal in West Virginia.

To contact the reporter on this story: Che Odom at COdom@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ryan C. Tuck at rtuck@bna.com

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