Last week, we introduced two new areas of law in our ongoing examination of how the Court selects and decides cases: tax law and attorney disciplinary cases. This week, we’re taking a deeper look, asking our four usual questions: (1) does the Court take more cases won by one side or the other below? (2) does the Court reverse one side or the other’s wins more often? and (3) irrespective of who won below, does the Court reverse in this area of law more often than in the docket as a whole? Today: tax law.
The Court’s tax law cases are nearly dead-even between the two sides: 52.94% of the Court’s cases were won by the party challenging the tax below. Interestingly, the Court’s reversal rate is higher than the docket-wide average for both sides. The Court has reversed tax challengers’ wins 61.11% of the time, and has reversed government wins in tax cases 62.5% of the time.
In Table 571, we review the yearly totals for tax challengers’ wins affirmed by the Court. They’ve been few: the Court affirmed one each in 1995, 1999, 2001, 2006, 2013, 2014 and 2017.
The Court reversed one challenger’s win in 1991, two in 1995, one in 2003, 2006 and 2010, two in 2011, and one per year in 2012, 2014 and 2015.
The Court affirmed one government win in a tax case in 1993 and 1994, two in 2006 and one in 2007 and 2009.
The Court reversed two government wins in 1992, one each in 1994 and 1998, two in 2001 and one in 2006, 2008, 2013 and 2017.
Overall, the Court has reversed entirely in 60.61% of its tax law cases since 1991, a rate several points higher than its reversal rate for the entire civil docket. When we take into account partial reversals, the reversal rate rises to two-thirds. The Court reversed two thirds of its tax cases between 1991 and 1995. Between 1996 and 2000, the reversal rate was 50%. Between 2001 and 2005, the Court reversed in whole or in part in all four of its tax cases. Between 2006 and 2010, the Court reversed in 62.5% of its tax cases. Since 2011, the Court has reversed in tax cases exactly 60% of the time.
Join us back here tomorrow as we turn our attention to the Court’s attorney disciplinary cases.