Monday, October 17, 2005

The West Virginia coal severance tax challenge

Here are links to the briefs in U.S. Steel Mining Co., LLC, et al. v. The Hon. Virgil Helton, State Tax Comm’r, before the West Virginia Supreme Court, including:

Opening brief of appellant U.S. Steel
Brief of appellee Tax Commissioner
Reply brief of Appellant

In one of the amicus briefs, the West Virginia Municipal League declares that an end to the tax would be ruinous to West Virginia localities: "It is not a matter of crying wolf or 'Chicken Little, the sky is falling . . .' just turn out the lights on a great number of West Virginia municipalities and their programs."

The always excellent Goodwin firm filed this brief for the County Commissioners' Association.

The issue is whether West Virginia's coal severance tax violates the Import-Export Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 10, clause 2, which says: "No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress."

I understand from reading the Virginia Mountaineer that some coal companies are contemplating raising the same issue here in the Commonwealth.

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