Federal Courts and State Taxes: Some Jurisdictional Issues, with Special Attention to the Tax Injunction Act
Posted: 9 Dec 2012 Last revised: 28 Jan 2013
Date Written: December 6, 2012
Typically, controversies concerning state and local taxes are litigated in the state courts, but, for a variety of reasons, one of the parties to such a controversy may prefer to litigate in the federal courts. This article offers a general introduction to the jurisdictional rules and principles governing federal jurisdiction over state/local tax disputes, and to the jurisdictional barriers and hurdles that keep many state/local tax controversies out of the federal courts. The article provides a detailed analysis of the limitations imposed on federal jurisdiction by the Tax Injunction Act, and explores the relationship between the Act and doctrines of comity, a topic brought into sharp relief by the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Levin v. Commerce Energy, Inc. It also seeks to place judicial interpretations of the Act in the broader context of federalism concerns.
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