Worst-case fears that Oklahoma could be responsible for paying up to $500 million because a section of a capital-gains tax deduction was ruled unconstitutional were set aside Wednesday.
The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals, after granting a rehearing to the Oklahoma Tax Commission, upheld its earlier ruling that the deduction that treats out-of-state companies differently than Oklahoma firms is unconstitutional.
The appellate court directed that its ruling applies only to the 2008 tax return of the company that filed the appeal.
“Because our pronouncement addresses only the claims of the parties before us, we express no opinion on the timeliness or correctness of any other claims,” Judge Jane Wiseman wrote in Wednesday's opinion.
“They gave us guidance that they didn't give us in the previous one,” said attorney Thomas G. Ferguson Jr., of Oklahoma City, who represented the company, CDR Systems Corp. “It's the same decision.”
The Tax Commission estimated the state could have been responsible for paying up to $421.8 million to individuals and up to $61.2 million to corporations if the appellate court had ruled the deduction was available to others and retroactive to the last three years it has been in place.
Tax Commission attorneys were reviewing the opinion Wednesday and had no comment, said Paula Ross, an agency spokeswoman.
The Tax Commission could appeal the appellate court's ruling to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Finance and Revenue Secretary Preston Doerflinger, a key budget adviser for Gov. Mary Fallin, has been advised not to comment because the matter is subject to appeal, said a spokesman for Doerflinger's agency, the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services.
Rep. Scott Martin, chairman of the House of Representatives Appropriations and Budget Committee, said he is willing to work with the Tax Commission to change state law concerning the capital gains deduction.
“We anticipate this is probably going to be appealed to the state Supreme Court, but in the meantime ... we're certainly going to review the opinion to see what legislation might be needed in this coming session,” said Martin, R-Norman.