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Famous Tax Quote #37 - Is Fido a dog?


Continuing our series on Famous Tax Quotes (quotes from court opinions with language that is colorful or that concisely states an important tax principle) today's tax quote is:

For instance, assume an ordinance taxes the keeping of pet dogs. Jo is assessed a tax for keeping Fido, and Jo appeals. The question “Is Fido a dog?” may be factual or it may be legal.  If Jo claims only that Fido is a really a cat, then the issue is factual.  No one argues that the legal definition of dog includes cats; the only dispute is regarding the actual nature of Fido.  On the other hand, if both parties agree that Fido is a prairie dog, the question “Is Fido a dog?” is a purely legal one.  There is no dispute about the nature of Fido; the only dispute involves what the legal meaning of “dog” is.  Of course if the city says Fido is a schnauzer while Jo says that Fido is actually a prairie dog, the question “Is Fido a dog” is mixed if both legal and factual aspects of the seemingly single question are in dispute. 

Indmar Products Co v Commissioner, 444 F.3d 771 (6th Cir. 2006).

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