Articles Posted in U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals

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Defendants, online booking companies, acquire inventories of hotel rooms at negotiated rates (wholesale rate) and rent the rooms to consumers at higher retail rates; they charge consumers a separate amount for hotel taxes. Defendants pay the taxes to the hotels, which in turn remit it to the state taxing authority. Plaintiff brought a claim on behalf of a putative class of New Jersey municipalities, alleging that basing the tax on the wholesale rate, rather than the retail rate, is a form of tax evasion. The district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on grounds of prudential standing ground, reasoning that the municipality was attempting to assert a legal right that was reserved to the Director of the Division of Taxation (aided by the Attorney General) to enforce municipal hotel occupancy taxes by determining the amount of tax due and then collecting the related revenue. The Third Circuit affirmed, reasoning that municipalities have authority to impose a local hotel tax under N.J. Stat. 40:48F, but enforcement is reserved to state officials. View "Township of Lyndhurst v. Priceline.com Inc." on Justia Law

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The Township brought a putative class action on behalf of itself and similarly situated New Jersey municipalities, alleging that defendants, companies who operate hotel booking sites online, owe unpaid hotel occupancy taxes. Defendants calculate the tax owed based on the negotiated rate paid by a defendant (wholesale rate), not the higher rate charged consumers (retail rate). Defendants pay the tax to the hotel, which remits it to the state taxing authority.The district court dismissed on grounds of prudential standing, holding that state officials have the right to enforce the statutory tax scheme. The Third Circuit affirmed. The Township is not the proper plaintiff. Authority to adopt a hotel tax is granted municipalities by N.J. Stat. 40:48F-1, but administration and collection are left to state officials. View "Twp. of Lyndhurst v. Priceline.com Inc." on Justia Law