801 Skinker Boulevard Corp. v. Dir. of Revenue, No. SC 92401.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtZEL M. FISCHER
Citation395 S.W.3d 1
Parties801 SKINKER BOULEVARD CORPORATION, et al., Appellants, v. DIRECTOR OF REVENUE, Respondent.
Decision Date26 February 2013
Docket NumberNo. SC 92401.

395 S.W.3d 1

801 SKINKER BOULEVARD CORPORATION, et al., Appellants,
v.
DIRECTOR OF REVENUE, Respondent.

No. SC 92401.

Supreme Court of Missouri,
En Banc.

Jan. 8, 2013.
Opinion Modified on Court's Own Motion Feb. 26, 2013.


[395 S.W.3d 2]


Ira M. Berkowitz, Marvin J. Nodiff, Law Office of Marvin J. Nodiff PC, St. Louis, MO, for the Taxpayers.

Deputy Solicitor General, Jeremiah J. Morgan, Attorney General's Office, Jefferson City, MO, for the Director.


ZEL M. FISCHER, Judge.

801 Skinker Boulevard Corporation (“801”), Union Electric d/b/a Ameren UE Company n/k/a Ameren Missouri (“Ameren”), and Laclede Gas Company (“Laclede”) (collectively “Taxpayers”) petition for review of the Administrative Hearing Commission's (“Commission”) denial of their request for a refund of sales tax, interest, attorney's fees, and costs, arguing that they are entitled to the exemption and refund of their state sales tax pursuant to § 144.030.2.1 Ameren and Laclede argue that their claims should not have been denied because they were authorized to make the claims on behalf of 801 pursuant to § 144.190.2, RSMo Supp.2003, and would remit any taxes obtained on 801's behalf to 801.2 This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to article V, sections 3 and 18, of

[395 S.W.3d 3]

the Missouri Constitution. The decision of the Commission, sustaining the Director of Revenue's (“Director's”) motion for summary decision and overruling 801's motion for summary decision, is reversed, and the Director is ordered to remit a full refund of the sales tax paid, plus interest at a rate of six percent annum.3 The parties are directed to the procedures under §§ 136.315.3 and 536.087.3 for consideration of any award of attorneys' fees in this case.

Procedural History and Facts

801 is a Delaware corporation that operates as a residential cooperative, consisting of members, all of whom own an exclusive right to occupy one of 39 residential units in the building in St. Louis, Missouri, owned by 801. 801 provides maintenance services to the units, common areas, and facilities, the cost of which is paid by its members through assessments. 801 sought a refund for sales taxes under § 144.030.2(23).

The refund request concerned state sales tax charged and paid on electric and natural gas utilities purchased from June 2006 through May 2009, used for the purpose of providing heating, cooling, lighting, hot water, and other services for the units, common areas, and facilities including hallways, lobbies, elevators, entrance ways, parking areas, generator, and fire pump. The common areas are on separate meters from the individual units, which have separate meters for each unit. While 801 is legally required to pay for the common area gas and electricity, each of the members are responsible for the cost of such utilities in an amount consistent with their proportionate ownership share of 801.

801 filed for a refund of the 2008 sales tax on its Ameren and Laclede bills in the amount of $11,993.17. Ameren filed for a refund on behalf of 801 of the sales tax for 2006, 2007, and 2009 in the amount of $10,028.55. Laclede filed for a refund on behalf of 801 of the sales tax for 2006, 2007, and 2009 in the amount of $17,407.96. Ameren and Laclede's applications were denied by notice. Ameren's rate classification for the electricity purchased by 801 for the common areas was “3M Large General Service,” a commercial rate. Laclede's rate classification for the natural gas purchased by 801 for the common areas was “C & I Class 3,” a commercial rate.

Taxpayers timely filed their complaint with the Commission, alleging the utilities were purchased for domestic use by the individual owners and residents of 801 in accordance with § 144.030.2. Taxpayers filed their motion for summary decision and the Director filed a cross-motion for summary decision. On February 7, 2012, the Commission rendered its opinion, denying Taxpayers' request for a refund of sales tax, interest, attorney's fees, and costs. Taxpayers appealed.

Standard of Review

“This Court reviews the decision of the [Administrative Hearing Commission] pursuant to section 621.189. Under section 621.193, RSMo 2000, the decision of the [Commission] is to be upheld when authorized by law and supported by competent and substantial evidence upon the record as a whole unless clearly contrary to the reasonable expectations of the General

[395 S.W.3d 4]

Assembly.” Street v. Dir. of Revenue, 361 S.W.3d 355, 357 (Mo. banc 2012) (internal quotations and citations omitted). The Commission's interpretation of state revenue laws is reviewed de novo. Custom Hardware Engineering & Consulting Inc. v. Dir. of Revenue, 358 S.W.3d 54, 56 (Mo. banc 2012). The Commission's findings of fact will be upheld if the findings are supported by substantial evidence on the whole record. Id.

Taxpayers bear the burden of demonstrating that they qualify for an exemption. Brinker Missouri, Inc. v. Dir. of Revenue, 319 S.W.3d 433, 436 (Mo. banc 2010). “Exemptions from taxation are to be strictly construed against the taxpayer and any doubt is resolved in favor of application of the tax.” Id. “The primary rule in statutory construction is to ascertain the intent of the legislature from the language used, to give effect to that intent if possible, and to consider words used in the statute in their plain and ordinary meaning.” Street, 361 S.W.3d at 357–58 (internal quotations and citations omitted). “In ascertaining legislative intent, the statute should be read in pari materia with related sections, and the taxing statutes should be construed in context with each other.” Id. at 358.

Analysis

Section 144.030.2 authorizes state and local sales and use tax exemptions if the qualifications of the statute have been met.4

[395 S.W.3d 5]

Single or Master Meter

Taxpayers argue the Commission erred in overruling their motion for summary decision because the purchased utilities were for domestic use and the language of the statute regards utility service for common areas and facilities through “a single or master meter” for residential apartments or condominiums as exempt from the tax. The Commission's ruling states: “[801] qualifies for neither the residential rate classification, nor the single or master meter exemption.”

In determining statutory construction, this Court has said that “every word, clause, sentence, and provision of a statute must have effect.” Civil Service Comm'n of City of St. Louis v. Members of Bd. of Aldermen of City of St. Louis, 92 S.W.3d 785, 788 (Mo. banc 2003) (internal quotations and citations omitted). “[I]t will be presumed that the legislature did not insert idle verbiage or superfluous language in a statute.” Hyde Park Housing P'ship v. Dir. of Revenue, 850 S.W.2d 82, 84 (Mo. banc 1993). While this Court has interpreted the word “or” as conjunctive and synonymous with the word “and” in cases where it becomes necessary to effect legislative intent or avoid producing an absurd result, “the ordinary interpretation given to the word ‘or’ is not as a conjunctive ... and it never means ‘and’ unless the context requires such construction.” Hawkins v. Hawkins, 511 S.W.2d 811, 812 (Mo.1974) (internal quotations and citations omitted). “It should only be construed as ‘and’ only where necessary to give effect to the intention, and the substitution should not be made where such construction would be inconsistent with the intent as shown by the whole context and the circumstances or unless its literal meaning renders the sense dubious.” Id.

Here, the intent of the legislature may be gleaned by the plain language of the statute. The first sentence of § 144.030.2(23)(a) makes clear that, when an individual occupant in a residential premises uses a portion of purchased utility service for nonbusiness, noncommercial, or nonindustrial purposes, such utility service is determined to be for “domestic use” and is exempt from the state and local sales and use taxes. The second sentence of § 144.030.2(23)(a) extends such designation and exemption (“shall be...

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9 practice notes
  • Young v. Boone Elec. Coop., WD 76567
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • April 14, 2015
    ...effect,’ ” and that “the legislature did not insert superfluous words into a statute” (quoting 801 Skinker Blvd. Corp. v. Dir. of Revenue, 395 S.W.3d 1, 5 (Mo. banc 2013) )); Bateman v. Rinehart, 391 S.W.3d 441, 446 (Mo. banc 2013).5 It is unclear whether it is necessary to find the term “u......
  • New Garden Rest., Inc. v. Dir. Revenue, No. SC 94897
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • October 13, 2015
    ...as a whole unless clearly contrary to the reasonable expectations of the General Assembly.” 801 Skinker Blvd. Corp. v. Dir. of Revenue,395 S.W.3d 1, 3–4 (Mo. banc 2013)(internal quotations omitted); see also§ 621.193. “This Court reviews the commission's interpretation of the applicable sta......
  • Sun Aviation, Inc. v. L-3 Commc'ns Avionics Sys., Inc., No. SC 96280
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • October 31, 2017
    ...render the terms "construction" and "maintenance" meaningless. See, e.g., 801 Skinker Blvd. Corp. v. Dir. of Revenue, 395 S.W.3d 1, 5 (Mo. banc 2013) ; see also Matthew Davis, Note, Statutory Interpretation in Missouri, 81 Mo. L. Rev. 1127, 1136 (2016) ("Because eac......
  • St. Charles Cnty. v. Dir. Revenue, No. SC 92853.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • August 13, 2013
    ...that “every word, clause, sentence, and provision of a statute must have effect.” 801 Skinker Blvd. Corp. v. Director of Revenue, 395 S.W.3d 1, 5 (Mo. banc 2013) (quoting Civil Service Comm'n of City of St. Louis v. Members of Bd. of Aldermen of City of St. Louis, 92 S.W.3d 785, 788 (Mo. ba......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 cases
  • Young v. Boone Elec. Coop., WD 76567
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • April 14, 2015
    ...effect,’ ” and that “the legislature did not insert superfluous words into a statute” (quoting 801 Skinker Blvd. Corp. v. Dir. of Revenue, 395 S.W.3d 1, 5 (Mo. banc 2013) )); Bateman v. Rinehart, 391 S.W.3d 441, 446 (Mo. banc 2013).5 It is unclear whether it is necessary to find the term “u......
  • New Garden Rest., Inc. v. Dir. Revenue, No. SC 94897
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • October 13, 2015
    ...as a whole unless clearly contrary to the reasonable expectations of the General Assembly.” 801 Skinker Blvd. Corp. v. Dir. of Revenue,395 S.W.3d 1, 3–4 (Mo. banc 2013)(internal quotations omitted); see also§ 621.193. “This Court reviews the commission's interpretation of the applicable sta......
  • Sun Aviation, Inc. v. L-3 Commc'ns Avionics Sys., Inc., No. SC 96280
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • October 31, 2017
    ...render the terms "construction" and "maintenance" meaningless. See, e.g., 801 Skinker Blvd. Corp. v. Dir. of Revenue, 395 S.W.3d 1, 5 (Mo. banc 2013) ; see also Matthew Davis, Note, Statutory Interpretation in Missouri, 81 Mo. L. Rev. 1127, 1136 (2016) ("Because eac......
  • St. Charles Cnty. v. Dir. Revenue, No. SC 92853.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • August 13, 2013
    ...that “every word, clause, sentence, and provision of a statute must have effect.” 801 Skinker Blvd. Corp. v. Director of Revenue, 395 S.W.3d 1, 5 (Mo. banc 2013) (quoting Civil Service Comm'n of City of St. Louis v. Members of Bd. of Aldermen of City of St. Louis, 92 S.W.3d 785, 788 (Mo. ba......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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