Comcast, Corp. v. Dept. of Revenue

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Tax Law
  • Date Filed: 10-02-2014
  • Case #: S059764
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Linder, J. for the Court; En Banc.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under ORS 308.515(1)(h), cable television and internet access are “data transmission services,” and property so used belongs to “communication” business subject to central assessment.

In tax year 2009-2010, the Department of Revenue (Department) treated property used for cable and internet services as “communication” business and added Comcast, which provides cable television and internet services, to the central assessment roll. As a result, the real market value and maximum assessed value of the Comcast’s property was increased. Comcast challenged this designation in the Tax Court, arguing that “data transmission services” did not include their cable and internet services. The Tax Court concluded that cable television was not a “data transmission service,” but that internet access was. Both parties appealed, neither defending the Tax Court’s decision. The Department argued the legislature intended “data transmission services” broadly as any communication service that transmits electronic data. Comcast argued “data transmission services” only refers to a certain type of “private line” communication. The Court held “data transmission services” to broadly mean any service that provides the means to transfer data from one computer-like device to another. Consequently, both Comcast’s cable and internet services are “data transmission services” and property used for them are part of “communication” business subject to central assessment. The decision of the Tax Court was reversed, and the case is remanded to the Tax Court for further proceedings.

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