State & Local Taxation Litigation
Goldberg Kohn serves as counsel in some of the most complex and high-stakes state and local taxation matters facing clients today. For decades the firm has represented Exelon Corporation's nuclear generation unit, and its predecessors including Commonwealth Edison, in disputes with local taxing districts and taxing officials regarding the property taxation of Illinois' six operating nuclear energy stations. For the last dozen years the firm has assisted Exelon in negotiating multi-year property tax agreements pursuant to Illinois law in these matters, which in many instances have been followed by contested tax years where the valuation of each nuclear station has been the subject of administrative hearings and appeals.
From 2008-2010 Goldberg Kohn also assisted Commonwealth Edison, one of the largest landowners in Illinois, in property taxation disputes regarding its extensive transmission and distribution right-of-way corridors, resulting in beneficial resolutions saving the company millions in tax payments. At any given time these disputes require litigation in the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board, various administrative Boards of Review in Chicago's collar counties, and in state court. Goldberg Kohn attorneys are adept in all of these forums. Through the firm's work Goldberg Kohn has assisted the client in developing a framework for valuing nuclear facilities, perhaps the most complex properties ever built, in property tax matters, and have marshaled that approach to substantial success in litigation and advantageous resolution.
Goldberg Kohn's work for Commonwealth Edison, the predecessor owner of the nuclear stations, established precedent-setting law in the classification of the property at nuclear power plants as either real estate or personal property. In a test case that went to the Illinois Supreme Court, the firm's attorneys developed extensive engineering evidence concerning the makeup of a nuclear facility and compared, from an engineering perspective, the physical characteristics of the machinery and equipment in that facility to significantly smaller industrial facilities in the rural county where the station at issue was located. The evidence showed that local officials were applying a different test to Commonwealth Edison than to other industrial facilities. After a three-month hearing the client won a comprehensive victory, which was affirmed on appeal. The result of that victory ultimately led to successful settlements of related issues at virtually all of Commonwealth Edison's nuclear facilities and resulted in refunds and savings to the company that exceeded a quarter of a billion dollars on a present value basis.
Goldberg Kohn's taxation expertise has also taken its attorneys to the United States Supreme Court. The firm represented the state of Illinois in the landmark Supreme Court case of Goldberg v. Sweet, 488 U.S. 252 (1989), which addresses, among other things, the constitutional validity of state taxes under the interstate commerce clause. The firm's experience extends to other cutting edge tax matters. For example, Goldberg Kohn represented Sprint Nextel and predecessor Nextel West Corp. in several class action cases involving the taxation of commercial mobile radio service (more commonly referred to as cellular service). In one of these cases the putative plaintiff class consisted of virtually every city in the state of Missouri. These matters were successfully resolved in a manner beneficial to the client.