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Tax Foundation Files Amicus Brief with Supreme Court on Property Tax Assessment Case

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Download Brief of Amicus Curiae in Support of Petitioners?CSX Transportation, Inc. v. State Board of Equalization of Georgia

Brief of Amicus Curiae in Support of Petitioners—CSX Transportation, Inc. v. State Board of Equalization of Georgia

U.S. Supreme Court No. 06-1287
Filed on July 30, 2007

by Chris Atkins and Brian E. Bailey

Summary of Argument
The Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976 (“4-R Act” or “the Act”) allows federal courts to hear challenges to a state’s property taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. assessment method with regard to railroads. Congress authorized such challenges, when it approved the 4-R Act, not merely to rescue a troubled industry, but also to protect the right of railroads to be free from discriminatory state and local taxation.

The courts below are in error insofar as they held that taxpayers may only challenge the application of an assessment method and not the method itself. This interpretation contravenes the Act’s textual command to consider a property’s “true market value,” not just one party’s estimation of that value. Such challenges are vital to give effect to the Act.

More broadly, this Court should not insulate assessment methods from challenge where Congress has demonstrated a desire to protect interstate commerce. Ensuring a transparent process, with the goal of determining “true market value,” is the best way to protect interstate commerce and individual rights, and uphold the text, purpose, and meaning of the 4-R Act.