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PPL CORPORATION v. COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE

Docket No.: 12-43
Certiorari Granted: Oct 29 2012
Argued: February 20, 2013
Decided: May 20, 2013

Topics:

IPO, Internal Revenue Code, Mergers

PartyNames: PPL Corporation and Subsidiaries v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue
Petitioner: PPL Corporation and Subsidiaries
Respondent: Commissioner of Internal Revenue

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Citation: 665 F.3d 60
Supreme Court Docket

PPL Corporation and Subsidiaries
v.
Commissioner of Internal Revenue
Background:

To avoid double taxation, section 901 of the Internal Revenue Code allows U.S. corporations a tax credit for income, war profits, or excess profits taxes paid to another country. This case involves application of section 901 to a "windfall tax" imposed by the United Kingdom. Although it is undisputed that the tax's practical effect is to impose a 51.75% tax on the "excess profits" certain companies earned in the four years after they were privatized, the Third Circuit-at the Commissioner's urging-deemed the tax non--creditable because the U.K. statute nominally taxes the difference between two numbers, one of which is driven exclusively by profitability during the four-year period, rather than nominally taxing the profits themselves. In a case arising out of the same U.K. tax, same tax court proceedings, and same evidentiary record, the Fifth Circuit reached the opposite conclusion and affirmed the Tax Court's considered view. Recognizing that it was creating a clear circuit split, the Fifth Circuit affirmed that courts must look beyond the form and labels of a foreign tax statute and consider the tax's practical operation and intended effect when determining whether it is creditable for U.S. tax purposes.

Question Presented:

Whether, in determining the creditability of a foreign tax, courts should employ a formalistic approach that looks solely at the form of the foreign tax statute and ignores how the tax actually operates, or should employ a substance-based approach that considers factors such as the practical operation and intended effect of the foreign tax.

PPL CORPORATION v. COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE
ORAL ARGUMENT

February 20, 2013

Listen to Oral Argument in PPL CORPORATION v. COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE
Holding: REVERSED
Vote: 9-0
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