U.S. Supreme Court Won't Hear Oklahoma Income Tax Law Case

Article excerpt

Royalty taxes will stay put. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a case challenging the constitutionality of an Oklahoma law requiring that income taxes be withheld from payments to royalty- interest owners who reside out of state.

The court's decision lets stand a March Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals opinion that upheld the law, which requires producers to withhold 5 percent from royalty payments to out-of-state interest owners, to be remitted to the Oklahoma Tax Commission for state income taxes.

Tax commission spokesperson Paula Ross said the agency was pleased with the high court's decision to decline to hear the case, but said the commission would have no further comment until it receives official word from the justices.

The case involved a lawsuit brought by the Panhandle Producers and Royalty Owners Association and others over the 2000 law. The plaintiffs asked the Supreme Court in October to consider the case, on which the justices declined to grant certiorari on Monday.

An Oklahoma trial court granted summary judgment to the tax commission, and the state appeals court affirmed.

Panhandle Producers, which represents royalty owners in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, argued that the law is unconstitutional because it requires income tax payments to be withheld only from royalty owners living in other states.

Nonresidents may obtain a refund of withheld amounts that exceed the taxes they actually owe.

Association attorneys argued that the law discriminates in two ways: by depriving nonresidents of the use of their money between the time taxes are taken out and when they receive any refund, and by requiring them to file returns to claim refunds of overpaid taxes, while Oklahomans with low incomes are not required to file returns. …