Nation’s highest court could take up NC sales tax dispute | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the Carolina Journal. The author of this post is CJ Staff.

    A company fighting the N.C. Department of Revenue over sales tax on out-of-state transactions hopes to take its case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The company wants the nation's highest court to reverse a December ruling from North Carolina's top court.

    The Wisconsin-based company, Quad Graphics, accuses the N.C. Supreme Court of ignoring a 1944 precedent in a case called McLeod v. J.E. Dilworth Co.

    "[T]his Court held that a state may not tax sales that occur beyond its borders, even when the goods are purchased for delivery into the taxing state," wrote attorneys representing the company. "As the Court explained, when title and possession are transferred to the purchaser outside the taxing state, the taxable event - the sale - also occurs outside the taxing state. In that situation, only one state may tax the sale: the state in which the sale occurs."

    Yet the N.C. Supreme Court ruled in a 6-1 decision last December that state revenue officials could tax Quad Graphics for its out-of-state sales to companies operating in the Tar Heel State.

    "[A] majority of the North Carolina Supreme Court declined to follow Dilworth, instead embracing the State's power to tax sales by Petitioner Quad Graphics that occurred outside the State, on the ground that the goods were purchased for delivery to North Carolina," according to the Quad Graphics petition. "The majority did not dispute that Dilworth would control if it remained good law and also acknowledged that this Court has never expressly overruled it. Indeed, this Court has continued to cite Dilworth favorably in the decades since it was decided, and the overwhelming consensus of courts and commentators alike is that Dilworth remains a binding precedent."

    "Yet over a strenuous dissent, the majority effectively overruled Dilworth from below based only on impressionistic inferences from and overbroad readings of this Court's more recent Commerce Clause jurisprudence," the petition continued.

    It's an "error" that demands a response from the U.S. Supreme Court, Quad Graphics attorneys' argued.

    "At minimum, it should summarily reverse the decision below, which directly challenges this Court's exclusive prerogative to overrule its own decisions," according to the petition. "Our federal system does not countenance a state court deciding that the Supreme Court has 'implicitly overrule[d]' its own precedents - especially when those precedents limit the state's own powers. Left unchecked, the ruling below will embolden other states to take matters into their own hands, creating uncertainty and endless litigation for individuals and businesses. Taxpayers should not have to risk million-dollar tax liabilities and penalties - like the ones that North Carolina imposed on Quad Graphics here - for following U.S. Supreme Court precedent."

    Even if the high court chooses not to reverse the N.C. Supreme Court outright, "this case presents an ideal vehicle to lay to rest any doubts about the Dilworth rule," Quad Graphics argued. "The North Carolina Supreme Court deepened a split as to whether the rule is compatible with this Court's modern Commerce Clause jurisprudence, with state courts of last resort divided 4 to 2 in favor of Dilworth's continued vitality."

    Quad Graphics filed its petition with the U.S. Supreme Court on March 14. The N.C. Chamber Legal Institute filed a friend-of-the-court brief on April 5 supporting Quad Graphic's case.

    "In this case, NCCLI is concerned that the actions of the North Carolina Department of Revenue ... and the decision of the North Carolina Supreme Court, if allowed to stand, will undermine this Court's exclusive power to determine the fate of its own precedents, introduce uncertainty and instability into the legal system and encourage adventurism by courts and administrative agencies," wrote attorney William Nelson.

    "The North Carolina Supreme Court's decision is a direct challenge to this Court's explicit instructions to lower courts to respect Supreme Court precedents no matter how uncertain they may have become until officially overturned by this Court," Nelson added.

    The N.C. Supreme Court's opinion reversed a June 2021 decision from Business Court Judge Gregory McGuire, who had ruled in favor of Quad Graphics.

    The state Supreme Court majority reasoned that two more recent U.S. Supreme Court precedents, Complete Auto Transit v. Brady from 1977 and South Dakota v. Wayfair from 2018, superseded the Dilworth case.

    "The sole question before this Court is whether the holding of the Supreme Court of the United States in Dilworth controls the outcome of the case at bar," wrote Justice Michael Morgan, a Democrat. "Based on the high court's subsequent decisions in Complete Auto and Wayfair, we hold that Dilworth does not govern the present case. We further conclude that North Carolina's imposition of sales tax on the purchases at issue in this case does not violate either the Commerce Clause or the Due Process Clause of the Constitution of the United States under the relevant modern test provided by Complete Auto."

    Justice Phil Berger Jr., a Republican, cast the lone dissenting vote. "As the trial court correctly noted, resolution of this case is determined by response to one question: 'is the holding in Dilworth the controlling law,'" Berger wrote. "In answering in the affirmative, the trial court invalidated assessment of the sales tax against Quad Graphics by the North Carolina Department of Revenue because the Supreme Court of the United States has not overruled McLeod v. J.E. Dilworth Co. The trial court's decision should be affirmed because this Court is not permitted to disregard the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Commerce Clause and the federal Constitution."

    The state Revenue Department faces a May 17 deadline to respond to Quad Graphics' petition. The U.S. Supreme Court will decide at a later date whether to take the case.

It has been far too many years since the Woke theology interlaced its canons within the fabric of the Indoctrination Realm, so it is nigh time to ask: Does this Representative Republic continue, as a functioning society of a self-governed people, by contending with the unusual, self absorbed dictates of the Woke, and their vast array of Victimhood scenarios?
  Yes, the Religion of Woke must continue; there are so many groups of underprivileged, underserved, a direct result of unrelenting Inequity; they deserve everything.
  No; the Woke fools must be toppled from their self-anointed pedestal; a functioning society of a good Constitutional people cannot withstand this level of "existential" favoritism as it exists now.
  I just observe; with this thoughtful observation: What will happen "when the Vikings are breeching our walls;" how do the Woke react?
613 total vote(s)     What's your Opinion?

Go Back

Leave a Guest Comment

Your Name or Alias
Your Email Address ( your email address will not be published)
Enter Your Comment ( no code or urls allowed, text only please )

Australian Environmental Company Selects Iredell County for its First North American Operation Carolina Journal, Editorials, Op-Ed & Politics ACLU files federal suit against new NC anti-riot law


Latest Op-Ed & Politics

“The world needs more fossil fuels,” according to Alex Epstein, founder of the Center for Industrial Progress. Epstein argues that the benefits of energy sources such as oil, coal, and natural gas far outweigh the costs.
A windowless van was seen lurking outside New York City elementary schools Monday. Witnesses claim the driver handed out obscene pornographic material to minors and lectured them on LGBTQ representation in literature.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) slammed the Biden administration’s new EPA rules around electric vehicles and tailpipe emissions.
Two recent news stories about educational institutions in our state illustrate the truth of that statement.
The world can see China is not a “great power” as the U.S. Congress unites in demanding freedom for Mark Swidan, an American who has been “unjustly detained” for more than a decade, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) declared on Tuesday.
As lawmakers in the General Assembly are poised to consider a bill that would streamline the process of approving new charter schools, a statewide charter advocacy organization reports that more than 77,000 students remain on waitlists to join charter schools.


Back to Top