Thursday, February 21, 2013

Supreme Court does algebra; hilarity ensues

Over at SCOTUSblog I've got a recap of the arguments in yesterday's hearing on the PPL Corp foreign tax credit case.  The justices seem to have had some fun with the formula and its many algebraic reformulations, but at the end of the day the discussion was not terribly enlightening.

I will note that by the end of oral argument I started thinking that maybe the government conceded too much in the case by stipulating that the windfall tax is a "tax" in the first place.  The government's answers to Justice Breyer's questions suggest that they now look at the windfall tax as in effect a purchase price adjustment, nothing more than an attempt for the UK to go back and claim a higher sale price in the privatization. Maybe you can call that a tax on value, but it's odd to say the least. Nothing to do now but wait for a decision, in which it will also be interesting to see what question the Court decides to answer.

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