BLUE BELL CREAMERIES, LP v. RICHARD ROBERTS, COMMISSIONER, DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE, STATE OF TENNESSEE (Tenn. January 24, 2011).
Taxpayer is a Delaware limited partnership that produces, sells, and distributes ice cream in Tennessee and elsewhere. At issue in this appeal is the Tennessee Department of Revenue's excise tax assessment on capital gains from a one- time stock transaction between Taxpayer and its holding company. Taxpayer sought a refund in chancery court, challenging the validity of the tax assessment on statutory and federal constitutional grounds. Both Taxpayer and the Department moved for summary judgment. The chancery court granted summary judgment to Taxpayer, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment.
Based on the uncontested facts in the record, we hold that Taxpayer's capital gains were business earnings pursuant to the functional test provided in Tennessee Code Annotated section 67-4-2004(1) (Supp. 2000) and therefore subject to the excise tax. Additionally, we hold that the tax assessment was constitutional pursuant to the unitary business principle. We therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and enter summary judgment for the Department. We remand to the trial court to determine the amount of excise tax related to Taxpayer's capital gains.
Opinion may be found at: