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State Tax Notes

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St. Tax Notes



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The last installment of this column inaugurated a multi-installment project examining judicial doctrines of deference to interpretations and positions taken by state and local tax agencies. We noted that in the various states, these doctrines fall into about a half dozen categories.

This installment explores one of those categories. A major deference rule in federal administrative law (including tax law) emanates from the U.S. Supreme Court’s famous Chevron case. This installment considers the extent to which Chevron and similar approaches are applied in state and local tax cases.

The first part be low briefly describes Chevron. State versions or equivalents come in three forms: (1) some state-local decisions expressly adopt or cite Chevron; (2) some other state-local decisions do not refer to Chevron by name but apply standards that are essentially indistinguishable from Chevron; and (3) yet other state-local decisions accord “great” deference to agency decisions without further articulation. In practice, this third version works out largely the same way that Chevron does. The second, third, and fourth parts of this article describe those three versions and give examples of their application in state and local tax cases. Finally, the last part addresses ways in which taxpayers may effectively challenge tax agency determinations in those jurisdictions that follow Chevron or Chevron-like doctrines.


© 2011 Steve R. Johnson


First published in State Tax Notes.

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