In 2009, without any guidance from the state legislature, the Oregon Department of Revenue abruptly changed its method for taxing cable television and Internet access businesses. The switch, from a local tax assessment method to a central assessment method as “data transmission services,” caused cable television and Internet access providers’ intangible personal property to be taxed and their property tax bills to skyrocket.
The Sutherland SALT team has guided Comcast through this matter all the way to Oregon’s highest court. In January 2013, Sutherland attorneys appeared before the Supreme Court (in Comcast Corporation v. Department of Revenue, Case No. S059764) to argue for a narrow interpretation of what qualifies as “data transmission services.” If successful, the SALT team’s argument could reverse the taxing method, offer relief for other companies and individuals in the digital economy sector and provide authority on the limitations of the central assessment valuation method in other jurisdictions. Please visit the Sutherland SALT Digital Economy Forum to follow further developments in the case.