State & Local Tax Blog

AL Loses in Bid to Classify Sale of Land/Plant as Nonbusiness Income

In a recent case decided by the AL Supreme Court, Kimberly Clark won its appeal.

Kimberly Clark had classified the income from the sale of timberland and a paper processing plant as business income. AL is a UDITPA state and as such follows the transactional test when it comes to classifying income. If the transaction can be said to occur in the normal course of business of the taxpayer, then it is business income. States are notorious for taking positions that are in their favor of course. Taxpayers are also wise to take positions in their own favor. In this case, the property sold was located in AL. Therefore, its no surprise that AL is going to take the position that the income from the sale is nonbusiness. Nonbusiness income is allocable as opposed to apportionable. Inasmuch as the property is located in AL, the income would be all allocable to AL, if AL could win their argument. AL argued that Kimberly Clark was not in the business of selling timberland and processing plants. In fact, Kimberly Clark had classified the sale as “extraordinary” in its own financial statements.

 

However, KC was able to show that in fact, it had conducted numerous of these transactions during the audit period. The Supreme Court found KC’s argument compelling and ruled in their favor. We can get you a copy of the entire hearing. Of course, AL still got some of the benefit of this transaction, but they wanted the whole thing. KC had argued in the alternative, that if the transaction was nonbusiness in nature, then the income should be allocable to TX. My guess is that KC had a limited partnership structure in place in TX
that could have generated a nice refund for KC in that case. The Supremes didn’t comment on the alternative argument since they ruled that it was business income.

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