Daily Tax Update - March 4, 2015: Rail Carrier Diesel Tax Not Discriminatory if Competing Motor Carriers Pay Similar Tax

Rail Carrier Diesel Tax Not Discriminatory if Competing Motor Carriers Pay Similar Tax:  Today, the Supreme Court held in Alabama Department of Revenue v. CSX Transportation, Inc. that the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit properly concluded that CSX’s competitors are an appropriate comparison class for CSX’s claim under 49 U.S.C. §11501(b)(4), but erred in refusing to consider whether Alabama could justify its decision to exempt motor carriers from its sales and use taxes through its decision to subject motor carriers to a fuel-excise tax.  The Court instructed the Eleventh Circuit to consider whether Alabama’s fuel-excise tax is the rough equivalent of Alabama’s sales tax as applied to diesel fuel, and therefore justifies the motor carrier sales-tax exemption. Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Justices Roberts, Kennedy, Alito, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined.  Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Ginsberg joined. 

Senators Hatch, Ryan Seek All Communications Between the IRS and the Executive Office:  Today, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) sent a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen demanding that the IRS turn over all communications between the IRS and the Executive Office of the President from January 1, 2010 to the present to assist in determining “the degree to and manner in which the Internal Revenue Service shares taxpayer information with the Executive Office of the President.”  The letter specifically requests “all electronic communication in the agency’s possession from or to an ‘eop.gov’ email address, or regarding White House communication.”