[UPDATED THROUGH SEPTEMBER 29, 2016]
When Is a City Required to Place a Tax Proposal on the Ballot? After the Court of Appeal in an action for administrative mandate reversed the judgment denying a request to compel a ballot measure, the Supreme Court granted review on the following issue: Is a proposed initiative measure that would impose a tax subject to the requirement of California Constitution, article XIII C, section 2 that taxes “imposed by local government” be placed on the ballot at a general election? California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland, S234148 (opinon below E063664, 245 Cal.App.4th 970). Petition was granted 6/29/16
Is 1% Increase on Electricity Bills a Tax or a Franchise Fee? After the Second District Court of Appeal reversed the judgment in a civil action, the Supreme Court limited review to the following issue: Is the City of Santa Barbara’s 1 percent increase on its electricity bills (i.e., the 1 percent surcharge) a tax subject to Proposition 218’s voter approval requirement or a franchise fee that may be imposed by the City without voter consent? Jacks v. City of Santa Barbara, S225589, (opinion below B253474, formerly 234 Cal.App.4th 925). Review was granted 6/10/15.
What Is the Status of a Payment in Lieu of Taxes by a City Utility under Proposition 26? The Supreme Court granted review after the Court of Appeal reversed the judgment in a civil action on the following issues: (1) Is a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) transferred from the city utility to the city general fund a “tax” under Proposition 26 (Cal. Const., art. XIII C, § 1, subd. (e))? (2) Does the exception for “reasonable costs to the local government of providing the service or product” apply to the PILOT (Cal. Const., art. XIII C, § 1, subd. (e)(2))? (3) Does the PILOT predate Proposition 26? Citizens for Fair REU Rates v. City of Redding, S224779, (opinon below C071906, formerly 233 Cal.App.4th 402, as modified 233 Cal.App.4th 1479a). Review was granted 4/29/15.
Does a Taxpayer Who Denies Any Interest in Property Have to Exhaust Administrative Remedies? After the Court of Appeal reversed judgment the Supreme Court granted review on the following issues: (1) Must a taxpayer against whom an escape assessment on personal property has been made exhaust administrative remedies by filing an application with the county’s board of equalization to reduce the assessment if the taxpayer claims that it does not own and has no interest in the assessed property, or does the taxpayer fall within the “nullity” exception to the exhaustion requirement? (2) Is a taxpayer who files an application for changed assessment with the county’s board of equalization subject to a one-year limitations period for paying the assessment and filing an action challenging the assessment, or does the period within which the taxpayer may file such an action begin to run only after the taxpayer has paid the disputed taxes? Williams & Fickett v. County of Fresno, S224476 (opinion below F068652, formerly 232 Cal.App.4th 1250). Review granted 4/22/15.
Can a County Impose a Tax Based on a Change of Real Property Ownership? After the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment in a civil action, the Supreme Court granted review on the following issue: Does Revenue and Taxation Code § 11911 authorize a county to impose a documentary transfer tax based on a change in ownership or control of a legal entity that directly or indirectly holds title to real property? North Ardmore Avenue v. County of Los Angeles, S222329 (opinion below B248536, formerly 229 Cal.App.4th 1335. Review was granted 1/14/15.
What Taxes Must be Paid for Standing to Bring a Taxpayer Waste Action?
The Supreme Court granted review on the following issue: Must a plaintiff have paid or be liable to pay a property tax to a government entity in order to bring a taxpayer waste action against that entity under C.C.P. § 526a, or can the payment of other taxes confer standing? Wheatherford v. City of San Rafael, S219567 (opinion below A138949, formerly 226 Cal.App.4th 460). Review was granted on 9/10/14. Update 10/29/14: Review granted in Dane v City of Santa Rosa, S221341 (opinion below A138355, nonpublished), with briefing deferred pending a decision in Wheatherford.
How Does Use of Online Travel Company Affect Tax on Hotel Rentals? The Supreme Court granted review on the following issue: When a customer books a hotel room through an online travel company, should the occupancy tax levied on the rent charged by the hotel be calculated based on the retail rate paid by the customer to obtain the right to use the room or on the wholesale amount that the hotel receives from the online travel company after that company has deducted its markup and fees? In re Transient Occupancy Tax Cases, S218400 (opinion below B243800, formerly 225 Cal.App.4th 56). Review was granted 7/30/14. Update 8/25/16: Oral argument scheduled for 9/29/16. The briefs are here. Update 9/29/16: Cause argued and submitted.