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Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Iowa SC: State can tax traditional phone companies' personal property, but not wireless providers'

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Apr 18, 2013


DES MOINES, Iowa (Legal Newsline) -- The Iowa Supreme Court ruled last week that the state can legally tax the personal property of traditional telephone companies but not force wireless providers to pay the same taxes.

In its 28-page opinion released Friday, the state's high court said the state can tax Qwest Corporation, now owned by CenturyLink.

The telephone company sued the Iowa State Board of Tax Review in 2006 over its state property taxes.

Attorney General Tom Miller represented the tax review board in the case.

The Polk County District Court had found that the disparate tax treatment violated the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution.

The state Supreme Court reversed, upholding the tax review board's assessment, and remanded the case.

"This administrative review proceeding requires us to decide whether imposing a tax on the Iowa-based personal property of incumbent local exchange carriers, but not on that of competitive long distance and wireless service providers, violates article I, section 6 of the Iowa Constitution. We conclude it does not," Justice Edward Mansfield wrote for the court.

"The differential tax treatment of these enterprises is rationally related to legitimate state interests in encouraging the development of new competitive telecommunications infrastructure, while raising revenue from those providers that historically had a regulated monopoly and continue to enjoy some advantages of that monopoly."

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