Saturday, October 8, 2016

Reefer Reboot

C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc. v. Department of Taxes, 2016 VT 77A

By Elizabeth Kruska

SCOV brings us a sequel to the C&S case from earlier in the summer with an amended opinion. I didn’t print the original opinion, because trees, and now all I can see is the amended opinion. From what I can tell, the amendment didn’t change the overall outcome or much in the way of the rationale.

I’m not going to go over the whole of the opinion; I did that already and although it was fun, it’s the kind of fun you only need to have once.

It looks like the court added some additional rationale regarding the recyclable freezer tubs and why they aren’t exempt from tax. C&S had previously sought to have their freezer tubs exempt from tax. The Commish said, “think again,” and C&S appealed. One argument they raised is that there are some reusable packing materials that are exempt—those are materials that have a usable life of three years. The freezer tubs have a longer life.

I believe the Court added some more language about this “3-year rule” itself. C&S argued it was invalid. The Court got into some details about this rule. It essentially said that whether or not this rule is invalid is irrelevant since the freezer tubs have a longer shelf life than 3 years anyway. Whether or not the tax department enforces the rule consistently is also beyond what the Court would consider.

I think that’s it. If there’s something I missed, leave it in the comments.

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