DIRECTV, Inc. v. Dept. of Rev.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Tax Law
  • Date Filed: 07-14-2016
  • Case #: SC S061294
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Brewer, J. for the Court.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under ORS 308.505(3), “data transmission services” means “services that provide the means to send data from one computer or computer-like device to another across a transmission network . . . [w]hether the data that the customer receives is data directed to it by the service provider itself or by some third party” is not a factor in this analysis.

The Oregon Tax Court set aside a determination by the Department of Revenue (Department) that taxpayer DIRECTV’s property in Oregon is subject to central assessment under ORS 308.505 to 308.665. The Department appealed that decision to the Oregon Supreme Court arguing that, contrary to the Tax Court’s opinion, DIRECTV was a “communications” business whose property is subject to central assessment under ORS 308.515(1). DIRECTV argued that because it purchased licenses for the audio and video data it transmitted, “it did not provide ‘data transmission services’ as the term is used in ORS 308.505(3).” The Oregon Supreme Court held, Comcast Corp. v. Dept. Of Rev., 56 Or 282 (2014), was controlling. In Comcast, the Court rejected the definition of “data transmission services” that the Tax Court relied on to make its decision. The Court held that under ORS 308.505(3), “data transmission services” means “services that provide the means to send data from one computer or computer-like device to another across a transmission network, Comcast at 315. “[W]whether the data that the customer receives is data directed to it by the service provider itself or by some third party” is not a factor in this analysis. Id at 332. Reversed and remanded.

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